Leaving Your Nursling for Hajj

Each year thousands of mothers leave for Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.  Many go for up to 3 weeks.  Some choose to tote their young children but many forgo this option as it can add stress to an experience that usually only comes once in a lifetime. Going for hajj takes years to months of preparation.   Careful planning is also key to leaving your nursing child. Ideally, we all would have a wet-nurse or nanny. But most people have to leave their child with someone outside the home.

First, have a loving, trustworthy, adult caregiver who your child has a good relationship with like their grandparents or a very, very, VERY close friend. You want someone who will be patient with them at times of separation anxiety. Young children may cry at bedtime or run to the door seeking you out.   Clever distractions and lots of hugs may be necessary to keep them calm. Make sure their home is child-proof. As a reminder write down your child’s daily routine, medications, food preferences and favorite activities.

Secondly, tell your child about your exciting trip. They will learn best from picture books, crafts and active play.   Point out airplanes, show them the Kaba, and tell them that you will be leaving and coming back inshAllah. An older toddler may be able to understand more than a baby. Ask them if there are any special dua that they want you to do while at Hajj.

In case communication is limited or reception is bad during the trip, record videos of yourself. There are also recordable storybooks and stuffed animals available. Make a calendar counting down to when you comeback. A small gift can be given for each day. Plan play dates or small outings for each week you are gone. Buy and wrap Eid gifts before you leave.

It will be important to decide if you will continue nursing or wean. If you will continue nursing:

  • Express milk in advance and store in the freezer. To warm, place in a bowl of warm water- never microwave or cook on stovetop. Have someone else give a bottle at least twice a day. If your child has never had bottles they may refuse it. Using a cup or spoon will be much easier.
  • Have your caregiver mix breastmilk in their food. If you do not have stored breastmilk, use donor milk from a foster mother or choose a halal formula.
  • Learn hand expression. You will need to remove your milk every few hours to maintain your supply. Though it may sound tedious, hand expression will be easier and requires no electricity like a pump. Pack a good hand pump as backup.  Unfortunately, you may not be able to properly store or travel back home with the milk. If you meet another mother with her child present in Mecca, consider milk-sharing.  In a warm room that is 80+ degrees F, the milk will be good for about 4 hours.  Review milk storage here.
  • Pack breast pads and a few empty bottles/bags.
  • Lastly, make sure you stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle, pace yourself and take naps.

If you choose to wean avoid the cold turkey method because it can be very painful and can cause mastitis. Gently lessen nursing sessions in the weeks before you leave. There may be some sleepless nights but it will be worth an easier transition for everyone involved. Know how to keep yourself comfortable in case you get engorged. The less your child nurses, the sooner your milk will dry up. But, it usually takes longer (a few weeks) for women who have been nursing longer to stop producing milk. So, you may still need to pack breast pads.

Most importantly make dua and ask Allah to make it easy for you.  May Allah accept your Hajj and make it a source of blessing for your family.  Please make dua for me sisters.

sources:  www.kellymom.com and http://www.virtualmosque.com “8 Ideas for Little Children Left at Home while Mother Performs Hajj” by Umm Ameen 8/28/15

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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

I Passed the IBCLC Exam

Three years ago when I started this blog, I learned so much.  I truly enjoyed sharing the benefits of breastfeeding with the world. Knowing the demand for nurses with the lactation certification, my mentor encouraged me to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. It seemed daunting, and it took me almost two years to figure out where to start. Last year I got serious about this goal, with the hopes of having a more meaningful career and being able to give families more specialized breastfeeding support. I studied for a year, and sat for the exam last year on the day of Eid ul-Fitr. We made the Eid prayer, shared breakfast and headed for busy downtown Chicago. While my husband took my three daughters to the nearby lakefront in their sparkly dresses and hijabs, I was in a high-rise nervously clicking away for 3 hours. Alhamdulilah, I passed. Also thanks to all of your prayers and support I have my dream job!  I now work at a hospital, educating and assisting new families with their newborns. I am learning a lot, and each day is a challenge. It’s beautiful to see the face of a new mom when her baby finally sustains a latch. I see a lot of moms with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and who have had C-sections. Some days I’m called up to a delivery room or on another hospital floor helping mothers who are sick but still breastfeeding. It’s truly a blessing to do this work.

This Spring, I hope to revamp the Suckled Sunnah website and offer more “live” support such as classes, webinars or consults. Your suggestions are welcome. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I have also written a book, The Muslim Companion to Breastfeeding, which should be available later this year, inshAllah. It’s taking me longer to write but is well worth the wait. I didn’t just want to give you all a 21 page E-book with stuff you could of Googled! So, please stay tuned. If you would like to review or donate a picture as a breastfeeding/babywearing Muslimah please email me at suckledsunnah@gmail.com.

Currently I am preparing some materials for a Ramadan Series. This would include info for women interested in learning more about how to manage fasting while breastfeeding. Once again, I am learning a lot and I look forward to sharing this information with you. Thank You.

Breastfeeding in Your Birth Plan

It is important that mothers initiate breastfeeding shortly after birth.  To ensure your needs are met and to create the optimal environment for natural feeding,  include the following things in your birth plan (it is not necessary that you include them all):

  • I would like the baby to be placed skin-to-skin immediately after birth (umbilical cord does not have to be cut yet).  That is, before the baby is washed or has drops placed in his eyes.  If the baby needs extra warmth, a blanket can be placed over him.
  • I would like all newborn procedures delayed until after the first feeding, and done with the baby lying on me or being held by me.
  • Allow my baby to explore my breast at his own pace.  I would like to give the baby an opportunity to self-latch.
  • I would not like my baby’s mouth to be suctioned unless medically necessary.
  • Please do not give my baby artificial nipples such as teats, dummies, or pacifiers.
  • Unless medically necessary, I do not want my baby to receive supplemental feeding such as glucose water or formula.  If supplementation is needed, I would like to discuss my concerns with a pediatrician and lactation consultant.
  • In the event of a c-section, I would like to hold the baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible after surgery.  If I am unable to for some time, I would like my husband/relative to hold the baby skin-to-skin.
  • I want my baby to stay in my room with me, so that I can hold my baby skin-to-skin as much as possible.  To ensure your modesty is protected, have your nurse put a sign on the door indicating that you do not want male caregivers and/or that you everyone must knock, state who they are, and wait for a response.
  • I would like help in establishing a comfortable and effective latch, and learn different positions for nursing my baby.  I would also like assistance in learning hand expression, how to recognize swallowing, and what to expect in the days following discharge.
  • If I encounter any breastfeeding problems, I would like help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
  • If I am separated from my baby for medical reasons, I want to use a breastpump to help establish my milk supply.
  • Do not give me any formula promotional material including the free formula diaper bags, coupons and crib cards.
  • Please provide me with resources for breastfeeding support in my community such as lactation consultants, clinics, groups and/or organizations.

Free Birth Plan Creator

Is Your Vitamin Halal?

Noor Vitamins are certified Halal and affordable.

If a mother eats a reasonably, well-balanced diet, taking vitamins are not necessary.  To find out why, checkout this article by Kellymom.  SubhanAllah, Allah (swt) has made our bodies very efficient at producing milk for our babies.

However, with the demands and stress of postpartum life, many women fall short of eating a truly, nutritious diet.  Therefore, many women continue take a multi-vitamin to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need.

“O you who have believed, eat from the pure things which we have provided you” (Quran 2:172).  Did you know that most brands use haram ingredients to make their vitamins?  Many people do not think it is important to check the pureness of vitamins, but as narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA), the Prophet of Allah (saws) said, “a time will come upon the people wherein a man will not bother what he intakes; whether from Halal source or Haram” (Bukhari).  Gelatin derived from pig fat or bones, is often used in vitamins as a softening agent.  Alcohol may also be used to make certain ingredients in vitamins.  Also, fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K often come from non-halal sources.

S’ad RA relates: Allah’s messenger (saws) said “O S’ad purify your food (and as a result) you will become one whose supplications are accepted. I swear by He in whose hands the soul of Muhammad (saws) lies, verily a servant (of Allah) tosses a Haram morsel in his stomach (due to which) no deed is accepted from him for 40 days” (Tabarani)

We all want our deeds to be accepted by Allah (swt).  Therefore, it is important that you check your vitamins with a resource such as Muslim Consumer Group or contact the company to verify if the vitamins are safe to consume.

To make it easy for you, I have compiled a short list of halal vitamins.

Noor Vitamins (Certified Halal by Islamic Services of America)

Halvit (IFANCA certified)

Nutrition Enhancement

Salaam Nutritionals

Vitamin Corner

Landau Multivitamins, Minerals, and Prenatal Vitamin

Maxi Health Multivitamins, Minerals, and Prenatal Vitamin

Solgar Multivitamins and Minerals, Calcium Citrate & Vitamin D

Zahlers Multivitamins and Minerals

If you know of anymore halal vitamin products, please contact me.

Islam Protects and Promotes Breastfeeding

Islam protects the breastfeeding relationship by providing rights and provisions that ensure the mother and child attain optimal benefits.  Here is a small list of examples that make breastfeeding easier and more achievable:

  • Breastfeeding is the right of the mother.  If she is willing no one can keep her from doing it.
  • Breastmilk is the birthright of a child.
  • As a part of marriage, husbands provide emotional, moral, physical and financial support.
  • After birth, women are given a generous 40/60 day (depending on madhab) maximum resting period while she is still bleeding (nifas). During this time she is not obligated to fast or pray (Sunnipath).
  • Sexual intercourse with one’s husband is not allowed while a woman is bleeding (nifas) after childbirth.
  • With a valid excuse, breastfeeding women can delay their fasts and make them up at a later time.
  • Children must honor their parents as mentioned in the translation of Surah Luqman verse 14, “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents; unto Me is the final destination”

The following are derived from Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 233:

  • The recommended full term of breastfeeding is 2 years.  This is the perfect amount of time because there are many benefits (please refer to this post).
  • Breastfeeding does not have to be a hardship. No one can force a woman to breastfeed.mm
  • Weaning early is permissible if a mother and father wish to do so.
  • If the parents choose to, they can hire a wet-nurse to feed the baby.
  • If the father/husband is not available e.g. he dies, his heir is responsible for facilitating his responsibilities for feeding the child.
  • Women have no obligation to work outside the home to provide food, clothing, or maintenance of the household. In general, and within reasonable means, this is the responsibility of the husband.
  • It is the father’s responsibility to find and pay for a milk-source if the mother does not breastfeed.
  • If a woman is divorced and still breastfeeding she has to be maintained (or compensated) by the ex-husband.