5 Helpful Tips To Do Fasting When Breastfeeding

Fasting is an integral part of several religions in the world. For many, it is a way to display their undeterred faith in the God they pray to. Hence, whether a person should fast or not is a deeply personal choice. But is intermittent fasting while breastfeeding safe? Restricting your calorie intake during nursing may impact your breast milk supply. Besides, eating less than recommended during lactation could affect your overall health. Hence, carefully consider the pros and cons of continuing fasting while nursing to ensure your and your child’s good health. So, read this article to know more about the safety of fasting when you are breastfeeding your baby.

What Does Religion Say About Fasting While Breastfeeding?

In most traditions, breastfeeding women are encouraged not to fast.

Most religions are flexible when it comes to fasting during breastfeeding. Here’s what the major religions have to say about the issue:

  • If you are a Muslim and planning to fast during Ramadan, wait. According to Islamic law, a breastfeeding mother does not need to fast. But missed fasts must be compensated for at a later date (1).
  • According to Jewish tradition, a breastfeeding woman is required to fast on Yom Kippur. But there is room for flexibility for individual cases (2).
  • Hinduism is pretty flexible when it comes to fasting and breastfeeding. Most breastfeeding women are encouraged not to fast and ensure adequate nutrition to support baby’s growth and development.
  • Nursing Catholic women are exempt from fasting during Lent (3). Women can offer other sacrifices like giving up eating their favorite food during Lent instead.
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What Does Science Say?

Prolonged fasting while breastfeeding may lead to premature weaning.

There isn’t enough research to show how fasting can affect breastfeeding or milk production. But the studies done on the subject show that there is a marked difference in breastfeeding relation during fasting (4). The studies indicate that fasting can lead to premature weaning and an abrupt end to breastfeeding.

But these issues arise only after a prolonged period of fasting (like during Ramadan). But one-day fasting has no impact on breast milk.

How Does Fasting Impact Breast Milk:

The fat content in breast milk does not change when you fast for a day. But the same cannot be said for the longer duration of fasting. We already know that inadequate nutrition does not change the composition of breast milk (5). The same can happen while fasting. But fasting can lead to deficiency in other nutrition in breast milk.

Therefore, adequate hydration is crucial while breastfeeding during fasting, as inadequate water intake and electrolyte balance can impact milk production, immune system function, and overall maternal health.

Fasting For Breastfeeding Mothers – Impact:

If fasting leads to weight loss, it may be time to rethink your priorities. This is because breast milk will leach fat off your body to compensate for inadequate fat in your diet. Therefore, breastfeeding combined with fasting might not be safe for both maternal and infant health. If you want to lose pregnancy weight, fasting is not the answer. Instead, it may impact your metabolism, blood sugar levels, and leave you malnourished.

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Tips To Make Fasting Easier While Breastfeeding:

If you want to breastfeed and fast in tandem, you’ll need to keep a few points in mind:

1. A Good Breastfeeding Diet:

Make sure you are getting a good breastfeeding diet when you do eat. If you are cutting out a few specific food items, like meat, from your diet, compensate with supplements.

2. Drink As Much As You Can:

Drink enough water before and after your fasting period.

Breastfeeding can leave you thirsty. So, make sure you are getting enough fluids. This is important especially during summer months to avoid dehydration. If you can’t drink water while fasting, make sure to drink enough of it before and after your fasting period.

Sharon Tjaden-Burkes, a mother of two, exercised and ate a calorie-restricted diet after childbirth but didn’t lose much weight. Then, around 13 months postpartum, she learned about intermittent fasting (IM fasting) from one of her friends. From about 14 months postpartum, she started following the IM fasting.

She says, “At almost 18 months postpartum, I’ve returned to my pre-pregnancy weight, and I’ve lost an additional two pounds. If you’re thinking about intermittent fasting, I will say that the first week is probably the hardest. I was starving until I would eat at 10:00 a.m. But drinking water helped. After a week or so, my body had re-adjusted to a new normal, and it’s not nearly so hard to make it to 10 a.m. now, several months later, as it was then. Not only did I lose weight, but I think that fasting helped to reset everything in my body (i).”

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3. Postpone Heavy Chores:

If you can, try to postpone chores that take up a lot of energy for later.

4. Rest As Much As You Can:

Rest more to conserve your energy when fasting while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can be draining. And if you are fasting, you may feel more dehydrated. So, rest when you can, as much as you can to keep your energy conserved.

5. Keep An Eye On Your Baby:

There is a slim chance that your baby may get less milk while you fast. So keep an eye on her. If you notice fewer wet nappies, greenish poop, weight loss, etc. talk to your doctor.

Seeking guidance from a healthcare provider or lactation consultant can be helpful when considering fasting while breastfeeding, as they can provide personalized recommendations and support.

So, should you fast while breastfeeding? That depends on you. If your child is older and has started solids, fasting will not have a big impact. But if your baby is younger than six months, you can avoid fasting.

Key Pointers

  • Most religions provide a conditional solution for fasting while breastfeeding.
  • It is crucial to consume small, frequent meals, stay hydrated, rest, conserve energy, and monitor the baby’s condition during fasting.
  • Intermittent fasting during the initial stages of breastfeeding may lead to insufficient nutritional intake for both the mother and the baby.
  • Extended fasting may further result in premature weaning and affect breast milk composition.

Article written by Baby Plumbing

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