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