Ramadan Fasting and Breastfeeding

Ramadan Fasting and Breastfeeding

The Islamic month of Ramadan, practised by many Muslims all over the world, starts around 10-11th March this year. For those who observe Ramadan it is very special time of year – of faith, fasting, family and community.  Pregnant and breastfeeding women are exempt from fasting if it affects their or their baby’s health and for some women this can be a hard adjustment.

At the Hearts Milk Bank, we understand how important and valued breastfeeding is in Islam from our research and studies around the use of donor human milk and milk kinship. Having spoken to many Muslim families, we know how central to faith the breastfeeding journey can be, including during the month of Ramadan. We have explored some of the questions about breastfeeding in Ramadan in more detail here to help you make an informed choice that suits you and your baby best. Please have a read and share your thoughts and tips too.

Fasting in Ramadan involves abstaining from food, water, smoking and sex between the break of dawn and sunset. It is an act of worship that is considered obligatory for all adult, healthy and well Muslims. It is also a time for community, acts of charity and giving and family coming together for meals and prayers.

For breastfeeding mums, Ramadan can be difficult – from the broken sleep due to waking up before dawn to breakfast, the extra social commitments, hunger and thirst if fasting or feeling like you are missing out on a special month if not fasting. Fasting can also affect milk supply for some and this can also lead to stress, worry and disappointment.

If you are breastfeeding and thinking about fasting during the month of Ramadan it is important to remember that the exemption is there to ensure you and your baby’s wellbeing. Breastfeeding itself is an act of worship and therefore missing fasts because your milk supply may be affected, is also an act of worship. Missed fasts can be made up later in the year when your baby is older, or the fasts are shorter and less likely to affect your milk supply.

Fasting for Ramadan is a personal decision and if you decide to do so and are concerned that your breastfeeding may be affected, please speak to your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist who can offer further advice.

Wishing you all Ramadan Kareem from the Hearts Milk Bank!