Fasting during Pregnancy… Is it Safe?

I was in the late third trimester of my first pregnancy that karwachawth came. As the last two years, this year too I had kept the fast for the well-being and longevity of my beloved husband. Little did I have an idea of what was going to come my way! All day long, I didn’t even feel any desire for food but yes, as the evening approached, I started yearning for water. I took it as a similar natural reaction of my body like it was during my previous two Karwachauth fasts. Finally, the moon appeared and after performing all the rituals, we were having our dinner. Just then, I started getting drowsy and feeling extreme exhaustion, fatigue and palpitations. I told my husband about my condition and we immediately ran to our doctor.

When we reached out to her doctor, she literally almost shouted on us for being so careless. I would like to emphasise that she is one of the best gynaecologists that one could ever have.  It was just her concern that made her scold us. She was worried that it was only about 15 days left to my delivery and how could I be so stupid to remain hungry without having even a single drop of water for the whole day? How could I be so careless to forget about the baby in my womb? She asked me “Are you having proper movements?” Wait! I simply forgot about them!  It was only when she asked this, I remembered, I have not experienced any baby movements for the last 20 hours approximately. She told me, “Are you sure? It can be a sign of major concern! ”My heart sank for a minute and with a heavy heart I told her, “Yes, I am sure of no movements for long.”

She immediately admitted me for a NST (Non-Stress Test). The test is basically done to measure the fetal movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement and lasts around 20-30 minutes. I cannot even explain how were we feeling! We were completely lost until I felt the baby’s movement within some 30 minutes during the test. Yes, by God’s grace I felt it when the nurse used the buzzer during the test. After some time the doctor, along with list of precautions and prescriptions, instructed me to have full bed rest the day onwards till my delivery. Since then, we learnt a lesson for life that it is good to be spiritual but at the same time we need to take care of our health too.

There are many festivals of all the religion when the devotees observe fasts to please their dieties and to show their devotion. The pregnant ladies always remain in a dilemma as to whether they should fast or whether is it actually safe to keep a fast during pregnancy?

So , if you are also having the similar concerns, here are a few things that can help you come out of this dilemma:

1. Take Extra Care if you are Fasting for Long Spells: Many women decide to fast in pregnancy due to their personal beliefs, religious fear, etc. I don’t say to neglect the religion and customs but yes, if you want to fast for long spells ( Navratris, Ramzaan, etc.), do take extra care of yourself.

2. Don’t Fast Hard: There are festivals in which it is common to keep fast without water (Karwachauth, Ahoi Ashtami, Teej, Ramzan etc.) for long. When you are pregnant,refrain yourself from fasting waterless the whole day rather observe fast by having either of the fruits, dryfruits or milk , etc. during the day so as to keep you energetic. Remember it is not only you who will be starving but your baby too. She is totally dependent on you for necessary proteins, nutrition and vitamins. Fasting strictly for long period in pregnancy can be harmful for your baby and can cause you headaches, fatigue, fainting, dizzy spells or severe acidity.

3. Your Doctor’s Opinion does matter: If you really want to fast, just consult your doctor and seek her opinion. She is the only one who knows your medical history and health conditions the best. There is no harm to observe fasts if your doctor allows you. However, most of the doctors do not agree on fasting for a longer period in pregnancy.

4. Remember the Effects of fasting during Pregnancy: Fasting long during the pregnancy could increase a woman’s risk for premature birth. It may even effect the development of the foetus. Fasting in pregnancy carries certain risks for the unborn baby such as abnormal breathing movements, low birth weight, and reduced gestational period. If you suffer from extreme exhaustion, fatigue, palpitations, etc. after fasting, speak to your doctor right away.

5. Keep a note of these Tips for Fasting in Pregnancy: Pregnant women need constant supply of essential nutrition, vitamins, proteins, etc. for the well-being of themselves and their babies. Before you actually start your fast, make sure to drink a lot of water to keep you hydrated and let the fruits play an important role during the day. When you break your fast, break it with a light meal consisting of healthy and nutritious food. At any point in time if you feel like you are not feeling well or your body is reacting in an unusual manner; reconsider your decision of fasting.

Always remember, your baby is your responsibility and it is your duty to protect her. In such a situation it is always recommended to listen to the experts for they are the ones who know your condition better than yourself. I am sure even you will also not like to take any chance in whatsoever manner!

Live Happy, Live Healthy! Happy festivities! 🙂

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