First Day of Fasting + Lactation Granola Bars

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Practicing tajweed after Fajr Prayer

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IMAG0550 Ingredients for bars and my eldest daughter

Ramadan Mubarak.  I pray this month brings us all closer to Allah (swt).  I am fasting and nursing my 8 month old.  So, I thought I’d share part of my journey with you all.  By the way, ALL NURSING MOTHERS CAN DELAY THEIR FAST.  THIS IS A PERSONAL CHOICE.  FASTING IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR EVERYONE.  I have years of experience fasting and I know my limits.  If needed, I will stop fasting at anytime.

As soon as I heard the moon was sighted I started drinking more water and eating fruit, knowing the night would end soon and that my husband was headed out to Tarawih at a close masjid. We sat with our kids for a while and talked about Ramadan and what it means.  I took my prenatal vitamins, prayed and went to bed pretty late.  Actually I passed out on the prayer rug, lol.  In the morning I went to work (I am only part time).  I felt pretty good, no headache or anything.  In fact I had a feeling of fullness almost all day, weird eh? Very careful to pace my self and not get frustrated, the day passed quickly.  Toward the end of my shift my mouth was a bit dry because I do a lot breastfeeding education.  So I found it easy to refrain from unnecessary chatting with co-workers.  I was noticeably more focused and patient with helping mothers & babies latch.  I spent my lunch break in a private consult room praying dhuhr, making dua, dhikr and reading Quran.  My phone died so I was unable to read translation:(  That’s when I got the fun idea of making some lactation breakfast bars.  When I got home from work my daughter nursed right away on one side.  No changes noticed, she reached out my lap and played as usual.  She is starting to crawl so nursing sessions are a lot shorter.  She also eats mixed fruits, vegetables, meat and grains several times a day and is being gradually weaned from breastmilk.  I should mention that my daughter does not like expressed breastmilk and is not supplemented with formula.  She drinks water or juice using a sippy cup and eats soft foods while I am at work.  My close friend, a very loving sister who lives nearby is great with her.  The house was decorated with streamers by the kids.  About two hours before Magrib my tummy got a lil rumbly so I got my kids involved in helping me pour and mix ingredients for these no-bake lactation bars.  I used flax seed meal which has fiber, lignans (phyoestrogens help boost milk) and Omega 3’s.  The oats have iron, fiber, antioxidants and also increase milk.  The vegan brewer’s yeast from beet molasses has B vitamins, chromium (helps control blood sugar), and probiotics.  Oh, and the yeast also helps increase milk production.  For this reason non-Muslims, commonly use beer to increase milk production, astaghfirullah (this contains alcohol).  Be careful not to buy Brewer’s yeast from beer, I got mine from Whole Foods.   The lovely smell of frankincense filled our home, soothing    our minds as we got ready to break our fast.  My older two children “fasted” for the last 2-3 hours.  My husband prepared an iftar meal of comfort foods, including his famous crunchy fried chicken Alhamdulilah.  Probably not the healthiest but I was thankful to not have to cook.  Sisters, if you are fasting and nursing….it’s very important to have a supportive partner.  I had been craving coffee but settled for pineapple juice knowing that caffeine would not be good to start out with.  Why? Because caffeine can make my baby hyperactive, give me a headache as well as a crash.  It also is diuretic, meaning it will make you urinate more which can lead to dehydration.    So I broke my fast with dates, pineapple juice, whole wheat baguette from Whole Foods and homemade herbed butter.  After we prayed we ate and  opened small gifts from my oldest daughter.  This is a tradition in our home.  A few times during the month one child (we have four) is taken somewhere inexpensive like the dollar store and allowed to choose and wrap gifts for everyone.  She bought me a new organic coffee from the Congo (Whole foods exception) and a Starburst candle.  I was so happy to be able to smell this fruity candy I no longer eat because it is not halal in the U.S. She also snagged some candy bracelets for herself which was reminiscent of my childhood.  The gifts definitely made us enjoy this special first night of Ramadan together.  I kept the water pitcher near me, making sure to fill my cup when I noticed I hadn’t drank in a while.  I took my two of my three small prenatal vitamins (for nursing also, I’m not pregnant).  They are flatter and smaller than those common horse pills I have trouble swallowing.  My kids had fun marking our first day of Ramadan on a big calendar (again, dollar store) with stickers.  They were proud that they took part in “fasting”.  We prayed, got the kids ready for bed, I rested and my husband stayed up to work and pray more.  I woke up around midnight and felt right away that my breasts were fuller of milk than usual.  In past years I have noticed this due to the surge of fluids and nutrients at night.  I nursed my daughter in the side lying position and fell off back to sleep.  Almost 2 hours later my husband came to wake me but I was alert nursing my daughter again.She stayed sleep and I floated downstairs to eat suhooIMAG0561r.  I started with a few glasses of water and fresh juice my husband made the previous evening with the juicer.  The juice contained two bunches of kale, two beets, strawberries and orange juice.  You can see the colors in the picture.  Juicing or making smoothies is a great way to hydrate and get extra nutrients from foods you may not have the energy or appetite to chew.  I was surprised to taste the lactation bar, it tasted just like a granola bar with a blend of coconut and almonds.  My kids will enjoy them.  By the way, anyone can eat these and it won’t cause them to make milk.  After suhoor we prayed and we spent some time together practicing tajweed.  I made it a point to start learning more Quran in Shaban and a beautiful sister and fellow mommy volunteered to teach me.  She is very flexible, joining me at a different time each week.  In the picture you will see that I am wearing a one piece, stretchy prayer garment and using a large print Quran with a stand.  If I have to hold my baby this makes it easier to continue reciting.  Underneath I am wearing a comfy knit maxi dress.  As I go into my second day of fasting I have many goals and know that I should eat better and obviously drink more.  Sisters, it’s very important to aware of your needs and address any concerns about milk supply.  If me or my child’s health was in danger I would seek help and not continue fasting.  I have fasted the last few years and know my limits.   InshAllah tomorrow is another good day.  How did your first day go?

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Lactation bar and prenatal vitamins

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Frankincense resin in burner

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Green and white streamers line our living room walls

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One piece prayer garment is a must-have item for every Muslimah

*I paid for all these items myself, I did not get paid for this post and the opinions are mine.


Easy Lactation Bars

Recipe from http://www.homemademothering.com by Maureen 5/17/14

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup almond butter

1 tablespoon vanilla   -I used non-alcoholic vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

3 tbsp brewer’s yeast – from vegetarian source

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

  1. On medium heat blend sugar, oil, milk.
  2. Next turn off heat, set aside and add vanilla and almond butter.
  3. In a separate bowl mix oats, almonds, yeast and flax meal.
  4. Add warm, liquid mixture to bowl.
  5. Mix and pour into greased pan.
  6. Pat down and cover.
  7. Refrigerate for two hours.

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  8. Cut and enjoy.

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Preparing Your Child Care Provider for Your Breastfed Child

Six weeks after the birth of my second daughter, I felt pressured to return to work.  I had already started pumping and storing my breastmilk, and was struggling to find openings at daycares close to my home.  I was relieved when my Muslim neighbor informed that she would accept my children into her  licensed, in-home daycare.  She invited me to tour her home and at the end of the visit I told her that my newborn daughter would be fed breastmilk.  In a thick arabic accent she replied “Why do you do this?  You don’t use Good Start?  It’s really good for babies!.”  This should of been a red flag for me, but in a rush to get home, I simply replied “no”, and left.  To make feeding my child easy for her, I thawed the breastmilk overnight and filled sterilized bottles with individual servings.  I tucked a note in my diaper bag with instructions on how to warm the bottle, feed my child and store any leftover milk.    Our children went off to daycare and I went back to work.  However, after a few weeks, my husband and I observed that she was not properly handling the breastmilk which I partly blame myself for because I never addressed her preference for formula or reminded her of the note in the diaper bag.  Eventually, we decided that it would be best for me to quit my stressful nursing job and I became a fulltime stay at home mom, alhamdulilah.  Looking back on this experience, I realize that not only is there a knowledge deficit about breastfeeding in the Muslim community but also among child care providers.  Because working interferes with the nursing relationship, many mothers end up switching to formula when they go back to work.  Consequently, the majority of child care providers have little to no experience with breastfed children.  By preparing yourself and your child’s caregiver, you can ensure that your breastfed child is in good hands.

Choosing a child care provider

  • Choose a daycare that is close to your job.  Therefore, you can nurse right before and after work.  Ask your boss if you can leave work to breastfeed on breaks.
  • Choose a child care provider who has a positive attitude and supports your plans to continue breastfeeding.  A good caregiver will: allow you to breastfeed on-site before and after work, ask questions, be open to discuss your concerns, help to determine how much milk to serve at each feeding and will communicate any feeding problems.   A quality provider will not ask for back-up formula, express disgust with breastmilk, discourage you or feed your baby right before your arrival (because you will have told them that you want to breastfeed when you get there).
  • Choose a provider who has experience with breastfed children or who is at least willing to learn how to handle breastmilk.  Make sure that they are comfortable feeding your child before you rush off to work.

Prepare your child care provider by:

  • Making a date to spend a few hours together before you return to work. During this time, she can observe your babies hunger cues and you nursing, discuss any concerns and ask questions. You will be working as team so its important that you have a honest, open relationship.
  • Providing written information about the proper handling and storage of human milk.
  • Investing in wide-base bottles and teats that resemble the breast.
  • Letting her know if you want your child to receive a pacifier for comforting.
  • Demonstrating how to feed your baby the bottle. Many breastfed babies bottlefeed easier with the paced feeding method which mimics the natural flow of milk.
  • Labeling all bottles with your child’s name and the date the milk was pumped. Some mothers also number the bottles to ensure that they are used before the next is opened.
  • Introducing the bottle or cup-feeding to your baby a few weeks before you return to work. If the baby won’t take it from you, have someone else do it at least once a day.
  • Showing her how your bottles are put together. Some of the more expensive styles have many parts and can be confusing.
  • Asking her if you can store extra milk in the freezer.
  • Giving her an opportunity to practice by having her watch the child for at least two short visits before you return to work.
  • Discussing how she should feed your infant in case there is an emergency and you are not able to pick-up on time.

Additional Resources

Bottlefeeding Breastfed Babies– Nice article by author and IBCLC

How to Meet the Needs of Breastfed Babies in Childcare– Wonderful PDF, great for providers!

Bottlefeeding a Breastfed Baby: Ideas for Day Care and Others-Short handout PDF

20 Tips for Working and Breastfeeding

Parents Guide to Breastfeeding and Child care Centers

Insh’Allah this information is useful for those Muslimah’s who have to return to work or school.  Please Help Spread the Barakah of Breastfeeding by Following my Blog and telling others about it.

Exclusive Pumping: An Alternative to Breastfeeding

One of most discussed topics in the Mommy Wars is breastfeeding versus formula feeding.  Often left out the conversation is exclusive pumping, an alternative that gives  the child the benefits of breastmilk while  also providing the  flexibility of bottlefeeding.  According to Medela.com, there are many reasons why a mother may not be able to breastfeed, which include:

  • Premature or ill baby
  • Anatomic problems in baby
  • Baby who will not latch on to the breast.
  • Severe engorgement, pain, mastitis, inverted or flat nipples
  • Painful breastfeeding
  • Poor or no help with early breastfeeding causing mom to stop breastfeeding
  • Unnecessary advice recommending weaning
  • Temporary medical crisis involving medications
  • Mother who has psychological issue around breastfeeding, i.e. sexual abuse victims
  • Desire to pump exclusively without medical or other indication
  • Perceived low supply

Under these circumstances, most mothers are encouraged to formula feed, but exclusive pumping is a safer, less expensive, and more nutritious alternative.  If you are considering pumping exclusively, here are some tips to get you off to good start:

If Possible, Be Prepared

We all can’t predict if there are going to be issues that prevent us from breastfeeding.  However, if you know you want to exclusively pump or have been informed that your child will have some medical issue, prepare yourself before you go into labor.  Invest in a good pump and learn how to use it.  It is easy to get lost amongst all those tubes, bottles, flanges, valves and breastshields.  If you think you would enjoy pumping “hands-free” buy a bustier.  Don’t forget to pack your pump and supplies in your hospital bag.

Get Support

Tell your doctor and pediatrician that you plan to exclusively pump.  Join a community support group and attend classes to help you learn the basics.  Consult with a lactation consultant or breastfeeding peer counselor.  There are also many awesome online groups such as the Breastfeeding Muslim Mothers Support Group on Facebook. 

Tell Your Boss

If you will be returning to work, learn your company’s policies regarding pumping and breaks.  Make sure you tell your supervisor that you will need pumping breaks before your first day back.  In the U.S., you can take as many unpaid, reasonable breaks as you need to pump, until your child is one year old (See Workplace Support in Federal Law).   Also, your workplace must provide a private space to pump that is not the bathroom (U.S. only).

Pump Often & Early

Pumping in the first few weeks will help to establish your milk supply.  Once you have recuperated after delivery, start pumping every two hours for 15-20 minutes.  It may help to set a timer on your phone.

Have Sabr (Patience)

Initially there will only be an ounce or two in the collection bottles.   But remember, the more you pump, the more milk you will produce. Though you may feel exhausted, avoid trying to rush the process by putting the pump on high suction.  Start on the lowest setting and gradually work your way up to the stronger suction.  I highly recommend the Medela Pump in Style because it automatically switches suction settings after a few minutes.

Be Consistent, Be Consistent, &…Be Consistent

It is especially important to consistently pump in the first few weeks when your milk supply is being established.  This will help to prevent low milk supply, engorgement and mastitis, which can lead to an infection in the tissue of the breasts.  After sometime, your pumping schedule will slow down and you will only have to pump according to your baby’s needs.

Many women struggle with maintaining their milk supply because it can be easy to get in the habit of delaying (or skipping) pumping sessions.  Naturally, milk supply is better regulated when the baby directly latches on the breast but, this does not mean that you can’t be successful.  Be confident and try your best!

Make Dua

Committing to pumping exclusively can be challenging.  Pray that Allah (swt) provides you with the sustenance and patience to continue giving your baby breastmilk.

Store with Care

After you pump, ensure that the closure of your storage container is secure.  I almost cried when all my milk spilled into my bag on my first day returning to work.  If you will be returning to work, ask if you can store your milk in the refrigerator or invest in a cooler bag with ice packs. Breastmilk can be kept in the refrigerator for 8 days and in the freezer for 3-4 months.    For more information on storage guidelines, please refer to the following links:

Dr.Sears

Medela

La Leche League

Kellymom

Helpful Products

I love Lansinoh Storage Bags because they stand upright when filled with milk and have a double zipper which helps to prevent your milk from leaking out. In the past, I have lost my days milk using flimsy, cheaper bags.

These breast packs are a safe and natural alternative to those old-fashioned gel packs. Made of cotton and all -natural flax seed, they can be used warm or cold to relieve breast discomforts. Perfect for the Green Mama!

Lansinoh is not paying me, these really are my favorite nursing pads. They are the most soft, absorbent and leak-proof.

Here are some additional resources:

Articles- Kellymom

Book & Resources- ExclusivelyPumping.com

Blog- Exclusively Pumping Rules

Yahoo Group- EPers

Support Board- Exclusively Pumping

Great tips from an experienced mom- Laura’s Pumping Page

Free, Online Lactation Consultant Support from Medela

Jazakallah Khayr to the sister who gave me the idea for this topic.

16 Tips for Fasting & Pumping During Ramadan

Tips for Pumping During Ramadan

  • Make dua, breastfeeding, pumping and fasting can be challenging.
  • Be consistent. This will help to maintain your milk supply.
  • Make a routine for pumping at work or home. Set the time, place, chair, etc. Prepare your equipment the same way each day.
  • Let your boss know that it is Ramadan. Provide them with a resource such as The Working Muslim in Ramadan Guide for Employers.
  • Pump at night or in the early morning. Pumping between iftar and suhoor will ensure you get good output.
  • If you pump during the day and notice a dip in your supply, set aside time to pump after you have regained your energy from eating and drinking.
  • Nurse on demand when you are with your child.
  • Avoid skipping nursing or pumping sessions, even if your supply looks like it’s lowering.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take a supplement to increase your milk supply such as fenugreek.
  • Use a double pump instead of a single. Double pumping yields more milk.
  • Re-hydrate overnight. Make sure you are drinking enough fluids when you are not fasting.
  • Avoid overeating. Eat a well-balanced diet with many fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep a few things that remind you of your child in your bag such as photos, a shirt, toy or recording of them. This will help you relax and encourage let-down while you are pumping.
  • Prepare and pack your supplies (storage bags, breast pads, clean bottles, cool packs etc.) at night or before suhoor.
  • Invest in a bustier so you can be hands-free while pumping.

Oh No! I Forgot to Put on Breast Pads!

A few days ago as I was entertaining some guests at my home, and someone informed me that I was leaking.  I suspose that I was so into the conversation that I did not notice that the left side of my shirt was completely drenched with breastmilk.  I had forgotten to put on breast pads.  In the comfort of my home, I conveniently changed my clothes and rejoined my guests.  However, for many, this embarrassing situation usually happens when outside the home.  Here is a way to control leakage if you notice that you forgot your trusty nursing pads. If you feel a “let-down” (tingley feeling) or are nursing on the opposite side, apply pressure to the nipple area with your hand.  If you are not breastfeeding at the time, you can conspicuously cross your arms across your chest, applying slight pressure.  Do this until you feel the sensation of milk flowing go away.  If you do this at the start of your let-down, your top shouldn’t get wet but if it does you might be able to re-wrap your headscarf to drape over the wet spots.

Alhamdulilah, leakage does not last forever.  It is a sign that your body is regulating milk production and will go away with time (insh’Allah).

For the future, here are some ways to prevent leakage issues:

  1. Wear nursing pads, Lilypadz or save your milk by using Milkies Milk Savers.  Always keep an extra pair in your purse.
  2. Wear patterned tops.  If you leak, the wetness is less likely to show than on a solid colored top.
  3. If your baby is with you, nurse often.
  4. Avoid missing feedings.  If you have to be away for a prolonged period, plan to pump.
  5. If your breasts get too full, don’t be afraid to hand express!  The milk can be simply wasted or collected in a sterile container.
  6. Use a towel or cloth diaper to catch the milk on the leaking side.

Pre-Ramadan Tip for Nursing Moms, Start Pumping!

Lansinoh Storage Bags are the best! They stand upright when filled with fresh milk (preventing spillage) and are super easy to close with a double zipper. Don’t forget to label your milk with the date and time.

Most Muslimahs are lighthearted about breastfeeding and fasting. While most sisters have valid excuses, some assume themselves exempt from participating in Ramadan without even considering if there is a genuine fear for themselves or their child. It is a myth that fasting in an Islamic manner (refraining from food and drink from sun up to sun down) causes low milk supply. Scientific research on West African Muslimahs has shown that fasting does not cause low milk supply, but does change the composition. Remember, breastmilk is always changing so this is not detrimental. Breastmilk does diminish from severe dehydration, which can be easily prevented by hydrating overnight with water or juice. It is my firm belief that if we trust in Allah (swt) and make intention to gain His pleasure by fasting, He will provide all the sustenance needed for the baby and mother. By His mercy, he has given the breastfeeding mother an allowance to abstain from fasting should a fear arise for her child or herself. Over the next few weeks I will share tips on how to stay healthy while fasting and breastfeeding.

If you plan on breastfeeding during Ramadan this year, start preparing now. My first tip is to start pumping during Shaban (or earlier) and freeze the milk. Generally, twice a day (evening and morning) should be sufficient, but mothers of younger infants may be able to pump more often. This will provide a back-up supply, as your body adjusts to fasting and in case you sense a dip in your supply. Also, if you are worried about your milk composition changing, this will ensure your baby gets all the nutrients he needs. Supplement with this breastmilk as much as you like and avoid using formula. If you wish, you can continue to pump at night during Ramadan to maintain your back-up supply for the future (or if your baby decides to have a growth spurt during Ramadan!). If you do not use the milk, it will be good for 3-6 months in the freezer. Consult a lactation consultant for further questions or concerns.

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