Happy belated Eid!
As many of you might know a couple of days ago was the celebration (Eid) of the end of Ramadan. Ramadan for those who might not know, is a holy month in Islam where the revelation of the Quran was sent from God by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohamed (saw). During this month all Muslim are prescribed to fast from dusk to sunrise, abstaining from food, water,intercourse and provocative behavior during this period of time. Those who are sick, old, pregnant or nursing can opt out from fasting if one fears of his own health or the health of the baby. Those who cannot fast, should according to some Islamic scholars feed the poor for everyday of not fasting and if your reason not to fast is due to pregnancy or nursing than making up the missing fast is also recommended at a later time. However, there are differences of opinions on how a breastfeeding/nursing women should complete her missing fast, so I would make your own research if that is something you are interesting in knowing more about.
In this month, all Muslims are encouraged to increase their prayers, recitation of Quran and overall spiritual level and relationship with Allah (God). Also, in this month it is better to give to charity, ask for God’s forgiveness and His blessing and conduct good morals and overall behavior. However, being a mother of multiple little ones, all of the extra worshiping that should be done in this month can be a bit intimidating since we are already cramped for time. This is why I came to write this post to encourage us mommies and give tips and tricks, that I hope can be useful to you for your next Ramadan. As a nursing mother, I was scared of the impacts that fasting might have on my baby. I had concerns on whether the baby would loose weight or worst if my milk supply would finish.
The age of your nursing baby should be the first step on deciding whether to fast or not. My youngest was 9 months and I personally felt comfortable to fast as she is eating and drinking liquids. On the other hand if your baby is younger, feeding on demand and not eating, it would have been a serious factor on whether or not you would want to fast. With that said, there are people who still fast and are nursing their newborn. Personally, I found that fasting with babies that are 6 months or younger is harder on the mother but the baby will be fine. With all the research that I gathered from scientific to experience is that the milk will adjust to the fasting and will not impact your baby. With that said, mothers are the best of judge, so be super alert and attentive to ones body is the key. What I would recommend is to fast a couple of days before Ramadan to see how your body and baby reacts to the fasting.
Let’s say you are a nursing mother who has decided to fast and you and your baby are completely healthy than keep reading for some tips I have gathered that will help you throughout your fast.
First tip I would suggest, is regarding time. How can you use your time wisely? What are some things I can do to give more time to read the Quran and make extra efforts in Ramadan?
- Cut out social media platforms. If you are like me, I used to spend time looking through my Instagram while nursing. During Ramadan what I used to do instead was reading the translation of the Quran on my phone while nursing and I was able to finish the whole translation.
- When kids are playing and distracted try to read 1-2 pages of the Quran in Arabic (if you know how), at a time.
- Plan your iftar (breaking of the fast) ahead of time.
- Stalk up on groceries, especially during the first week where your body is still adjusting to the fast.
- Make goals for Ramadan. What would you like to accomplish and reflect on how that could be done throughout the month?
- Organize your house so it can be more efficient and less time consuming.
- Go out, don’t stay at home but do activities where the kids can play and you can sit down and retain some energy while you supervise, like the park.
- Change your kids bed time to later at night, so you don’t have to wake up super early. If you kids are older, you can wake them up to eat suhoor (breakfast) before dawn and they can try to fast with you ( all depends on the kid’s age).
- Make sure you nap at some point in the day, especially if you live in hot areas like Egypt, the heat and sun can have a big toll on you if you do not rest properly.
The next couple of tips are related to nutrition, how to eat well and stay hydrated.
- Never, never, never miss suhoor (breakfast before dusk). I know when you were young, you could sleep through Ramadan without waking up for suhoor but as a nursing mother that is impossible. Put 2, 3 alarm clocks if you have to, in order to be on the safe side.
- Eat suhoor with protein dense food. My suhoor would be something like; eggs, fool (egyptian beans) with bread, homemade granola that I made with oats, nuts, seeds and raisins on yogurt. Believe it or not that kept me very full throughout most of the day because of all the protein and fiber.
- This should be a no brainer but still people can undermine it, is drinking enough water. Being hydrated is the key to fasting while nursing. We are not our young teenage selves anymore and taking care of our bodies is a necessity
- Don’t forget your vitamins. I would take my multi vitamins in the morning for suhoor and calcium vitamins for iftar (dinner).
The next several tips are about refining a deeper connection and relationship with God especially during the month of Ramadan.
- Pre-plan what you want to achieve during Ramadan. For me, I wanted to finish reading the Quran either it would be in the English translation or the Arabic.
- I wanted to get the most out of Ramadan, so I disconnected mostly from social media and social outings.
- I wanted to make dawah (invitation) towards Islam. I spoke highly and passionately about Islam but most importantly, I wanted to encompass the examples I was preaching.
- I wanted to pray as much as possible, so I made sure I prayed the sunnah and taraweh prayer.
- Reciting the Quran was a prominent goal of mine during Ramadan.
- Making du’a and dikhr at all times.
- Paying close attention to my conduct being reflecting on my flaws and how I can work towards change.
- Increasing my knowledge in my faith in all type of aspects such as learning Arabic, memorizing the Quran and listening to lectures.
This was all possible only by prioritizing what was most important for me to accomplish during the month of Ramadan. I cut out the hours I was wasting in social media and watching tv. I also disconnected from my social atmosphere. I wanted to focus mainly on accomplishing all that I wanted for Ramadan and anything else could wait afterwards. I also redefined what I wanted to accomplish after Ramadan. Self growth was a huge goal of mine in the month, trying to pay close attention to my conduct and developing healthy habits. If you are like me, with little kids, nursing and wanting to have a deep connection with God in Ramadan than know that it’s ok to change the rules in your household, for example, letting your kids watch a little bit more t.v so you can concentrate properly in your prayer or rejuvenating your energy by taking a nap. This month is not about spending all day long in the kitchen so it’s totally acceptable to eat left overs and ask for help from your spouse and relatives if you feel like you cannot manage a proper iftar.
I hope all our prayers, fast, du’ah and extra efforts get accepted. I hope Allah alleviates all our hardships and blesses with ease. May He forgives us for our sins and shortcoming and may He keep us in the right path. May we see another blessed Ramadan! Ameen.