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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Ramadan E-Book: Nurse Your Baby and Your Soul

Unfortunately despite my intentions to do several webinars before Ramadan, I was unable to meet my goal this year:( Could of used some help from you tech savvy sisters, mashAllah. InshAllah I can try again next year or if you feel it would be a benefit to have a FREE live webinar about fasting in Ramadan while breastfeeding, let me know.  My presentation is ready and I can still do them. In the meantime, I prepared a concise E-book with all the information that will beneficial to mothers who choose to fast this Ramadan. Nurse Your Baby and Your Soul: Ramadan Prep for Breastfeeding Mothers discusses how to prepare for fasting and be successful this Ramadan.  Includes tips on staying hydrated, energized and maintaining your milk supply.  Updated list of best foods for suhoor, the early morning meal.   Here is the link to purchase.

12 Great Suhoor Foods for Breastfeeding Moms

Dates

The best form of suhoor is dates as understood from the following hadith of the Prophet (saws), “How excellent are dates as the believer’s suhoor.” [(Sahih) Abu Dawood (2/303)]

Fresh Fruit

Prepare a fruit salad and refrigerate the night before to save time and energy.

Green Smoothie/Juice

Green foods increase the fat content of breastmilk and will give you an energy boost. Collards, spinach, kale, wheat grass, or any other green leafy vegetables can be juiced or chopped into smoothies. Spirulina, kelp, barley grass, alfalfa leaf and herbs are also great green foods to add to your morning drink. Here is an easy recipe for a Green Smoothie for Breastfeeding Mothers.

Boiled Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. If boiled eggs are too bland for you, boil them the night before and make an egg salad or egg curry.

Oatmeal

Oats are the most commonly used food to increase milk supply in the U.S. It is one of the most nutritious foods and contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Save time by mixing raw oats and water the night before and placing the bowl in the refrigerator. In the morning it will be thickened and can be eaten cold or warm. Stir in dried fruits, nuts and butter for a boost of nutrients. Oats can also be prepared in advance as granola or breakfast bars for suhoor.

Hummus

Chickpeas are known to increase milk supply. Also, the sesame seed butter or tahini is a strong source of calcium. I highly recommend making your own hummus because it is less expensive and easy. For an extra boost of nutrients and to your milk supply, add extra raw or roasted garlic.

Baked Yams

Baked yams can be prepared the previous night and eaten cold or warmed in the morning. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and butter for extra flavor.

Lentil Soup

Make a pot of soup to last a few days.  Add fennel for if need to increase your milk supply. Mung beans and fava beans (foul) are great alternatives.

Raw Almonds

Nuts are great for suhoor because they require no preparation. Macadamia nuts and cashews are also known to support milk supply.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Again, these can be prepared the night before and served cold or warm. Add flaxseed to your batter for extra nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Here is a recipe for Mama’s Milkie Morning Pancakes. And here is another delicious recipe, Almond Butter-Flaxseed Pancakes.

Beet Muffins

Reddish vegetables are full of beta-carotene which is needed in extra amounts during lactation. Beets are a wonderful source of minerals and iron. I made these muffins the other day and they were delicious! If you don’t like beets, these carrot muffins are great as well.

Water

I know this isn’t a food but it is important that you hydrate yourself when fasting. Avoid filling your stomach with water at suhoor. Instead, be conscious of your fluid intake starting at Maghrib and moderately drink throughout the night.

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.

Must Read: A Guide to Healthy Fasting

While doing some research for posts, I stumbled upon this article republished on Sunnipath. Anyone who fasts could definitely benefit from the information, but this article is especially helpful for the many women who fear or have experienced the hardship of breastfeeding and fasting. It helped me to understand the changes that occur in the body, the factors that make the fast difficult, and provided info on what could be done to make it more comfortable. Please check it out and tell me what you think.

A Healthy Guide to Fasting by Sue Visser

Not Fasting? Ways to Benefit from the Blessing of Ramadan

Breastfeeding women who are not fasting often feel “left out” during Ramadan.    However, Ramadan is not only about  abstaining from food and drink.    This time of self-purification and restraint is designed to help us attain taqwa so that we can be closer to our Creator.  Therefore, we there are many things a woman can do to benefit from the barakah of this holy month.

  • Set goals and make a plan to achieve them this Ramadan.
  • Adthkar- Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah (swt).
  • Cook and Serve Others- Prepare food for guests at your home or for the community iftar at your local masjid.  If you know a family in need or who could use the help, cook in advance and deliver it to them before sundown.   If you can’t cook, buy dates, drinks,sweets, bread or fruit to give to others.
  • Dua- Make dua as much as you like.  Remember, dua is the essence of worship!
  • Quran- If you are not in state where you can’t touch the Quran, make it a priority to recite and memorize Quran each day.  You can also benefit by listening to recitation more often during the day.
  • Sadaqa- Give money towards charity.
  • Tawbah & Istigfar- Repent and ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness of your sins.
  • Community Service Participate in activities that involve helping others or the environment.
  • Salat- Pray fard prayers on time.  Focus on developing your khushu.  If you wish, make extra prayers.
  • Sunnah- Make more of an effort to practice the sunnah with everything you do.
  • Salawat-  Send blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (saws).
  • Reflection- Ponder about death and the Day of Judgement.
  • Jumuah- Listen to the khutbah attentively and think about its message.
  • Protect your Spiritual State- Make more of an effort to guard your eyes, ears and tongue from harmful interference.
  • Take care of your body by eating tayyib, halal foods.  Keep yourself clean and groomed.  Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Protect your heart by avoiding things which are doubtful.
  • Strive hard in the last 10 days of Ramadan.  Take advantage of this time by waking in the night to worship Allah (swt).

Oh No! I Didn’t Make-up My Missed Fasts from Last Year!

I recently stumbled upon an online debate among sisters about whether or not a breastfeeding mother had to make-up her missed fasts from Ramadan.  Despite the fact that Allah (swt) has been merciful by given the breastfeeding woman a dispensation to be excused from fasting during the holy month (with a valid excuse), many of the women in the group felt that it was too much of a hardship to make-up those missed fasts.  As a mother of three children born very close together, I know that it can be challenging to make-up fasts.  However, whether we are still breastfeeding, pregnant with the next child, or have some other excuse for delaying, it is still obligatory to compensate for those fasts and Allah (swt) is the final judge.  Islam is designed to make ease for us, and insh’Allah we can do better at fulfilling the debts we owe to Allah (swt).  Since I am in no way a scholar, I would like to refer you all to a question-and-answer  from Seekers Guidance about making up missed fasts if they are not made-up before the next Ramadan.  There are links to more related Q&A at the bottom.
Making of Missed Fast

June 5th, 2009

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I missed some fasts because I was breastfeeding. I was not able to make them up before the next Ramadan because I was still breastfeeding. Do I need to pay an expiation because I have not made them up before the next Ramadan?

Answer:   By clear texts of the Qur’an and Sunna, and consensus of the scholars, it would be obligatory to make up those missed fasts–gradually, without undergoing hardship.

In the Hanafi school, a nursing woman unable to fast is obligated to make up the missed days, but does not have to give any type of expiation (fidya). [Ibn Abidin/Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar].

In general, no expiation is needed for delaying making up one’s unperformed fasts until the next Ramadan comes in.

This is because it is not obligatory to make up one’s fasts immediately. [Halabi, Multaqa al-Abhur; Marghinani, al-Hidaya]. It is, however, recommended to make up one’s fasts as soon as possible, in order to clear one’s debt to Allah. [Shaykh Zada, Majma` al-Anhur Sharh Multaqa al-Abhur, 1.250; Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadir, 2.354-355]

The reason it is not obligatory to make up one’s fasts immediately is because Allah’s command, namely His saying, “…and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (then fast the same) number of other days” [Qur’an, 2.185], is unconditioned, and the purport of unconditioned texts is decisive until another decisive text conditions it. [Mahbubi, al-Tawdih; Marghinani/Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadir Sharh al-Hidaya, 2.354-355]

Thus, all we have been commanded to do is to fast any same “number of other days” to clear our debt.

However, one should be careful because if one dies without having taking reasonable means to make up the fasts–such that one’s delay was unexcusable–then one would be considered sinful. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar] One should keep track of unmade-up fasts and make arrangements for expiation payments to be given from the discretionary third of one’s wealth upon death, in case one dies unexpectedly, as death is wont to happen.

Wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

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Here are more Q&A from SunniPath

Do I need to pay Fidya for missed fasts?

Not Fasting After Childbirth