Assalamu’alaikum all and Jummah Mubarak to you!
Forgive me for my consistent disappearances. Once I’ve figured out how to balance a baby with everything else…I’ll blog about it 🙂
For now, I have mastered fasting and nursing the little one with the help of Allah (swt). I wanted to make up the fasts I missed while pregnant so as not to accumulate too many. I know as a nursing mom I have a valid excuse, but it really was not too hard to space them out during the winter days. Unfortunately, I only was able to make up about half and now during the longest hours I am trying to wrap them up, Insha’Allah.
Here are some helpful suggestions that have been working for me thus far.
Intentions and du’a. Before any form of worship, always begin with a sincere intention for the best rewards. Fasting while nursing is a challenge, and the only helper through any challenge is Allah (swt). Make du’a that Allah (swt) make it easy for you. Remember you are fulfilling your obligations to Him (swt) while performing another major act of ‘ibadah, nursing – double the reward!
Water, water, water. Drink plenty of water from iftaar to suhoor. I keep a gallon of water on my bedside table to refill my glass without having to go to the kitchen every time. I got used to drinking water at room temperature because it is good for you and your stomach! Breast milk is 88% water, so aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the night.
Eat a healthy and balanced suhoor. Before I began fasting, I looked up the kinds of foods that would keep me feeling full longer and even more importantly hydrated. The best foods are complex carbohydrates and fruits because they take longer to digest, give you more energy, and retain water. Add oatmeal, brown rice, other whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables to the mix during your suhoor meal.
Healthy snacks between Iftar and Suhoor. Eat nutritious snacks in between Iftar and Suhoor. Most of the time, it is difficult to eat a full meal during Iftar time. I like to eat half of my meal at Iftar and the rest a little after ‘Isha. Keep in mind, I also sleep later and finish chores I didn’t have the energy for while fasting before I go to bed.
Prenatal vitamins and breast milk boosters. One of my major concerns about fasting was that I did
not want it to interfere with my breast milk production. To try to avoid this problem, I looked up natural ingredients that boost production. Traditionally the following are known to help: fenugreek (methi in Urdu), fennel seeds, anise seeds, blessed thistle, and garlic. I found fenugreek to be the most popular and effective among nursing moms. Many of these come in different forms, some alone and some together. You can drink it in teas, take it as tablets, or even just buy it in its original form. Just make sure there aren’t any side effects. Right now I am drinking Mother’s Milk tea between Iftar and Suhoor 3-5 times a day. However, this can become costly quickly, so I will look into making my own tea using fenugreek seeds. Oh and don’t forget your prenatal vitamins! I take mine after my suhoor.
Plenty of help from dad. My husband has been immensely supportive and without me even asking – still in shock – he occupies my daughter as much as he can, especially during those difficult final hours before Iftar. Get him to help in the kitchen, too! My husband’s been cooking once or twice a week. You can also have him prep while you cook or vice versa. These fasts would have been close to impossible if I didn’t have his help.
Plan ahead. Plan your Ramadan meals, tasks, chores, Iftar gatherings, and anything else you have going on ahead of time. As a teacher, one of the first lessons I learned is that things run smoothly and efficiently when you are prepared even if they don’t go exactly as planned. It may take a little more time, but it is always worth it. Take these few weeks before Ramadan to plan out a Ramadan menu, freeze meals, chop veggies, spread out your chores, etc. It will make a world of a difference and give you more time to focus on yourself spiritually. Here’s a great post from My Halal Kitchen to prepare for Ramadan.
Do not overburden yourself. Remember at the end of the day your first duty is to your own health and that of your baby’s. If the fasts are becoming too difficult and you feel unwell or your baby isn’t getting enough milk, you have the option to skip that day’s fast and make them up later. Try fasting every other day or every two days. Do what works for you. This is a mercy from Allah (swt) on us.
Let me know if you have tried any of these tips and if you have any to add!
Hope you have a blessed Ramadan!