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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Review: Nursing-Friendly French Jilbab

I have been stalking websites that sell French jilbabs ever since the blogger OldSchoolHijabi began writing about them. When she posted about Tasnim Collections I was excited. The site was simple, in English and the jilbabs were more affordable. I bought two, a navy and dark purple. Though shipping was a bit delayed (which customer service did notify me of), I was so happy to receive my package from Morocco one afternoon. I was travelling that day so I decided to throw it on and give it a try. The fabric immediately felt light and I love the drape. As a mom of four kids under the age of 6, I appreciated the long khimar which included a headcovering that tied behind the head and sleeves.   It’s an all-in-one outfit! The jilbab was not see through and the elasticized cuffs made it easy to do wudu. I wish this style of dress was more accessible in the U.S. because it really felt like the ideal, modest dress. The best part of this jilbab was the chest zipper. It allowed me to wear my 5 month old daughter in a front carrier and breastfeed with ease. I wore a blue jean jacket over it just because I like layers and it helped to “guard” her while nursing in public. Plus she was in the carrier which left me hands-free to juggle my other three tots! It came with a matching gathered skirt with an elasticized waist.   This was super comfortable while driving over 100 miles. When I arrived to my destination I didn’t want to take it off. In fact, I wore it each day because it was so quick to put on for prayer and errands.   Plus, if my daughter tugged on it or sat on my lap it didn’t come off. My only cons are that I wish I bought a longer skirt, the shipping could be quicker and as a slim person less fabric on the khimar would be nice. But overall I adore it and will use it for years inshAllah.

I think each nursing mom should have one of these. With Ramadan approaching, this would be something nice to wear to late night tarawih prayers or gatherings. InshAllah, I will be doing a Ramadan Prep Class for Breastfeeding Mothers which will discuss ways to improve fasting, maintain milk supply and save energy. Be on the lookout for my post Sisters.

By the way, I was not paid or received any incentives for this review. I purchased the items with my own money. The opinions are my own.IMAG0096_1_1

The Benefits of Breastfeeding the Full Term of 2 years

The translation of Surah Al-Baqarah verse 233, states “Mothers should nurse their children for two full years — for those who wish to complete the full term of nursing. It is the duty of the fathers to feed and clothe them with correctness and courtesy — no self is charged with more than it can bear. No mother should be put under pressure in respect of her child nor any father in respect of his child. The same duty is incumbent on the heir. If the couple both wish weaning to take place after mutual agreement and consultation, there is nothing wrong in their doing so. If you wish to find wet-nurses for your children, there is nothing wrong in your doing so provided you hand over to them what you have agreed to give with correctness and courtesy. Have taqwa of Allah and know that Allah sees what you do.”

According to Sunnipath.com this verse “implies that it is the moral and religious responsibility of the mother that she breastfeeds her child…and indicates that breastfeeding for two years is the child’s right on his/her mother.” Despite Allah’s (swt) recommendation to breastfeed for two years, many mothers wean early assuming breastmilk has no benefits for the child beyond one year of age. This is partly due to the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends breastfeeding “for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.” However, Allah’s (swt) infinite wisdom prevails, as there are many physical, spiritual and emotional benefits of breastfeeding toddlers up to two years.

Immune System Protection

Unlike cow’s milk, breastmilk has antibodies in it that prevent diseases and help fight infections.

Prevents Digestive Problems

The lining of the intestinal tract and kinetics of digestion and absorption attain complete function in the second year of life. Also, a child will have all their milk teeth, which stimulate production of gastric juices that help foods to completely breakdown in the stomach. Therefore, a child who is breastfed the full term, will be more capable of depending on solid foods for nutrition and be less likely to experience issues like constipation and diarrhea.

Adequate Nutrition

Toddlers can be picky eaters. By providing them with breastmilk, you can ensure that they are receiving all the nutrients they need to grow.

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

29% of energy requirements

43% of protein requirements

36% of calcium requirements

75% of vitamin A requirements

76% of folate requirements

94% of vitamin B12 requirements

60% of vitamin C requirements

Dewey 2001

Higher Intelligence

In general, breastfed children perform better than formula fed children. However, studies have shown that the longer a child is breastfed, the better they performed on intelligence tests.

Emotional Well Being

Breastfeeding creates an emotional bond that makes it easier to calm-down an overstimulated or irritable child. Also, nursing instantly comforts a child who has been hurt or is ill. Lastly, due to the fact the child’s dependency or “baby” needs are being met, they will be more outgoing, confident and independent.

Fewer Allergies

Breastfed children are less likely to have food allergies, asthma, eczema and related issues.

Easier weaning

It is natural for an older child to gradually self-wean. As they will be more emotionally mature, they will be able cope better when they are completely weaned from the breast.

Weight Loss for Mom

Breastmilk production burns almost 500 calories a day. Weight loss may be more rapid with extended breastfeeding.

Natural Child Spacing

Breastfeeding stimulates hormones that may prevent you from ovulating and delay the return of menstruation. This is known as Lactation Amenorrhea Method and is a legitimate way to prevent pregnancy.

Prevents Dehydration During Illness

This my favorite benefit because I have personally experienced the gratification of being able to feed my child when she is sick and won’t eat (or drink) anything else. Most importantly, breastfeeding helps to prevent dehydration which can worsen an illness and can be life threatening for a child.

Pre-Ramadan Tip for Nursing Moms: Fast a Few Trial Days

Many people are challenged by the first few days of Ramadan. In addition to waking early for suhoor, unsatisfied hunger and thirst can be quite discomforting. Subhan’ Allah, Allah is Merciful and provides us with so much barakah for fasting in the holy month. The transition from Shaban to fasting consistently in Ramadan, can be eased if a few trial days are fasted before the start of Ramadan. This is especially true for a breastfeeding mother, who may experience more thirst (and hunger) than the average person. Prepare yourself by fasting one or two days a week and becoming familiar with how it will feel. This will also help prevent your milk supply from drastically changing or decreasing. If you fear dehydration, set a schedule to drink extra fluids during the night and see if it works for you.  A breastfeeding woman needs 13-16 cups of fluid daily.  Avoid caffeinated drinks such as soda and tea that may contribute to dehydration.  Try different combinations and amounts of food to see what makes you most comfortable during the day.  Breastmilk production burns about 200-500 calories a day.    Depending on your activity level, you may need to consume 2,000 to 2,700 calories per day.  However, these demands may change while fasting because the body’s complex metabolic systems adapt to fasting, lowering caloric needs to maintain body function.  For this reason, it is unnecessary to overeat at suhoor and iftar.  Focus on quality of food and not quantity.  Keep a simple food and fluid log/diary to keep track of your progress and to develop a plan for Ramadan.  Most importantly, make dua that Allah (swt) gives you the strength to endure fasting despite the demands of your body while breastfeeding. Remember, it is not food alone that gives us the fuel to live in this world. Allah (swt), Ar-Razzaq (The Provider) is the ultimate source of all our physical and spiritual sustenance.  Also, do not feel like this is a competition, if you have fear for the health of yourself, or your baby, it is permissable to make-up the fast at another time. May Allah (swt) make it easy for us all.

Babies Are Born to Breastfeed!

Newborn doing the Breast Crawl

Alhamdulilah, Monday evening I gave birth to a precious baby girl.  Since I breastfed my other two daughters, I was confident that I would be successful at feeding her naturally.  Soon after delivery, we did skin-to-skin.  She found her way to the breast, latched on and started sucking.  She nursed beautifully.  There was no prodding, no painful sucking and no crying fits.  Then it dawned on me, Babies Are Born to Breastfeed!  Not only does Allah (swt) give us free-flowing milk for our newborns, He brings them into this world with the physical ability to feed from the breast.  This is a miracle we often take for granted and forget in this modern world.  Remember, the only reason a baby can bottle-feed is because he thinks it’s a breast!  Despite the vast array of classes and books offered these days, breastfeeding does not necessarily have to be taught, it’s a natural human (and animal) instinct.   While babies are in the womb, they receive all their nutrients from mother’s blood via the placenta connected to the umbilical cord.  However, after birth the cord is cut and the baby’s only source of nutrition is the breast.  Attracted to the scent of the milk, and with the darkened, erect areola in easy sight, the baby can feel and crawl their way to the breast.  The rooting and suckling reflexes make self-latching possible.  And, Voila!  Baby is Breastfeeding.  This phenomenon is known as the Breast Crawl, best demonstrates how a newborn can breastfeed without any help.

After the intense experience of childbirth, Allah (swt) makes it easy for us by providing the baby with the natural ability to simply breast-feed.  No extra money, supplies or people are needed.  Breastfeeding is universal and can be done by any woman, anywhere.  Subhan’Allah, Allah is is Ar-Razzaq.  We should show our gratitude by making dua and remembering Him often.  Please make dua for my family and I as we will be going home today from the hospital, insh’Allah.   Please Follow my Blog and Help Spread the Barakah of Breastfeeding.