Pregnant women ‘can fast if no complications arise’

SRINAGAR: Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, although pregnant women are exempted from it if it poses a risk to their health. Despite the health implications, several expecting mothers still choose to fast.
Asma Rafiq, 31, an expecting mother, decided to fast during this Ramadan. “Fasting in Ramadan is obligatory, and I fast out of my own will. Pregnancy shouldn’t become an excuse for not observe the fast,” she said.
On seeing her enthusiasm, Asma’s gynaecologist recommended her to fast on alternate days. “I don’t fast every day. I fast for one day followed by a day of rest. Fasting on alternate days helps me keep my energy levels up,” said Asma.
Experts say pregnancy is a ‘physiological process’ and not a medical disorder unless it’s not a high-risk pregnancy.
“As a doctor I cannot tell my patient whether she should observe fast or not. It’s an individual decision that a woman has to make. If there are no complications associated with pregnancy, then she must not be discouraged to do so,” said Dr Zahida Shah, clinical exercise specialist and lifestyle and weight management consultant.
“If an expecting mother is fasting, she should increase her visit to the consultant doctor in order to keep a check over her and foetal health. In addition, urine examinations should be conducted on weekly basis,” Dr Shah said.
Health experts say that pregnant women can fast at no risk of premature birth upto the 20th week of pregnancy.
“If a pregnant woman is suffering from certain conditions such as diabetes, renal/kidney stone, uncontrolled hypertension, anaemia, twin pregnancy, it is not advisable for them to fast at any cost.
“But if she is free from al theses conditions and feels that there is no risk to her and her baby’s health, fasting is advisable only up to 20th week and not beyond,” nutrition expert from Fortis Healthcare, New Delhi, Andleeb Basu told Kashmir Reader.
Islamic scholars say that pregnant women are exempted from fasting but are expected to make up the days they have missed once the baby is born.
“As per Islamic law a pregnant woman has a clear permission not to fast, and to make up the missed days later. If she is unable to do this, she must perform ‘fidyah’ (a method of giving alms in compensation for missing fasts). If a pregnant woman cannot fast after the childbirth for any reasons, she must donate some money as charity,” said Abdul Waqaas, a local preacher from Rainawari area of Srinagar.