Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO) has launched an awareness campaign through its Sharjah Baby and Family Friendly Project on its social media platforms to inform and advise breastfeeding mothers who want to fast during Ramadan.

Although breastfeeding mothers are not obliged to fast during Ramadan, especially if a mother fears it may affect the health of her baby, UAE-based research on 26 nursing women found that fasting during Ramadan did not significantly change the composition of breastmilk (although other studies have made different conclusions).  

Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, said: “While wishing everybody blessings of the Holy Month, SCFO reminds breastfeeding mothers who wish to fast to seek a professional medical opinion before deciding what is best for their babies. They may also consult religious scholars if they feel they are unable to fast and breastfeed. The intermittent style of fasting during Ramadan can usually provide enough time for a healthy, well-nourished mother to eat and drink between dusk and dawn. However, it is important that breastfeeding mothers have accurate information.”

She added: “It is with this in mind that SCFO has launched this awareness campaign through its Sharjah Baby and Family Friendly Project. While many believe that fasting is detrimental to breastfeeding women, scientific studies show that fasting can be beneficial as long as the mother remains hydrated and healthy. We urge all breastfeeding mothers who are fasting during this Ramadan to follow the campaign on social media and safeguard themselves and their children.”

Running on @sharjahbabyfamilyfriendly, the campaign aims to support nursing mothers with accurate information, advice, and helpful tips on the right breastfeeding and nutritional practices to keep them and their baby healthy and energetic through the Holy Month.

Fasting preparations

Nursing mothers are advised to start pumping milk after or in-between breastfeeds and refrigerate it (chilled or frozen). The expressed breast milk can be given to the child when required before Iftar.

Dietary advice

Mothers are advised to delay the Suhoor meal until it is close to Imsak time. The meal should contain ingredients rich in complex carbohydrates, protein as well as high-fibre vegetables which will offer steady energy supply through the day.

They are also advised to eat a healthy, balanced meal for Iftar and follow it up with several small meals until Suhoor. Drinking plenty of liquids such as water, herbal tea, fresh juice, soup, etc., in small quantities throughout the allowed period is also recommended.

Breastfeeding women should also focus on eating food and/or herbs that stimulate milk production, such as oats, nuts, sesame seeds, pasta, fenugreek, moringa leaves and asparagus, among others.

The campaign resources advise against drinking too much water or liquids just before fasting, as liquids are generally quickly expelled from the body and will make the person thirstier during the day.

Activities during the day

Breastfeeding women are advised to spend time in quiet activities such as reading the Quran, and playing with the children, while avoiding any kind of strenuous activity during the fasting period and taking a nap whenever possible.

The campaign suggests mothers monitor their babies for signs of dehydration, such as the change in urine colour or passing less urine.

Read more:

Where to find breastfeeding support in the UAE

Online breastfeeding clinics and antenatal support