Puis-je jeûner pendant la grossesse ou l’allaitement ?

Le Ramadan, Jeune Esther, Yom Kippour… According to different religions, pregnant or breastfeeding women can face questions about fasting. However, fasting can be risky in certain cases. Dr. Isabelle Héron, a gynecologist, explains the potential risks for both the mother and child, as well as offers advice regarding fasting during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Is fasting during pregnancy dangerous?

“Except for patients with chronic illnesses requiring a balanced diet, fasting poses no danger to either the mother or the baby. What is dangerous is stopping eating for several days in a row and not having any drink for over 12 hours,” explains the obstetrician.

For pregnant women with gestational diabetes, insulin-dependent diabetes, or type 2 diabetes induced by insulin, fasting may pose a higher risk and require more controlled responses as they may be asked to monitor their blood sugar levels before and after meals, possibly up to four to six times a day, to reach specific blood sugar goals. In such cases, insulin regimens may need to be adjusted, which can impact diabetes control. Therefore, any pregnant woman who wishes to follow fasting, whether for therapeutic, religious or intermittent purposes, should always inform her obstetrician or gynecologist beforehand to ensure that fasting is not contraindicated, does not harm her, and does not harm her baby.

Can pregnant women fast during Ramadan, Purim, or Yom Kippur?

From a medical point of view, patients with no medical history or certain health problems can observe the fast of Ramadan without risk. However, in cases of high summer temperatures, it is highly recommended to maintain adequate fluid intake throughout the day, says Dr. Isabelle Héron.

According to a practical guide from the Great Mosque of Paris, pregnant women experiencing difficult or high-risk pregnancies, those who have recently given birth, and those breastfeeding their babies (up to two years old) are exempt from fasting. The same applies to sick people, travelers, pre-pubertal children, and women who have their periods during Ramadan.

What are the recommendations for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers regarding the Esther or Yom Kippur fast?

In Judaism, several traditional holidays revolve around fasting. The same recommendations for fasting during Ramadan apply to the Esther fast. Pregnant women in their third trimester and those who have given birth within the past 24 months are exempt from the Esther fast. For Yom Kippur, which involves a 25-hour fast, a pregnant or breastfeeding woman is required to fast if the pregnancy is progressing well. However, the religion allows pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat in certain cases. Nevertheless, it is not recommended for women who have just given birth or had a miscarriage, or whose babies are sick to fast.

Is intermittent fasting recommended during pregnancy?

Intermittent fasting involves not eating for several hours to allow the digestive system to rest and eliminate toxins accumulated in the liver and kidneys. Skipping breakfast or dinner to prolong the normal nighttime fast poses no risk to the mother or baby, says the obstetrician. However, the disadvantages can be morning fatigue or sleep disturbances. It is important for the two other meals of the day to be balanced to meet all vitamin and mineral needs.

Can mothers breastfeed while fasting?

Breastfeeding while fasting is not contraindicated. However, if the patient is not adequately hydrated, lactation will be reduced and she may be too tired to breastfeed her baby. Therefore, it is important to stay well-hydrated and have a varied and balanced diet during the break of the fast. The mother’s fasting also has no impact on the quality of her breast milk, which remains nutritious and provides everything her baby needs. It is important to continue to respect the needs and feeding schedule of the baby.

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