An expert from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised pregnant and breastfeeding women to take the necessary precautions if fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Women with pregnancy complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure or anaemia are generally advised to avoid fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Breastfeeding women are also advised to have a general health check to ascertain their fitness and ensure their baby’s well-being before undertaking fasting.

Pregnant women with underlying health conditions should avoid fasting in order to protect themselves and their unborn babies from any unwanted complications, according to Dr Faten El Taher, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics/Gynecology at the HMC Women’s Wellness and Research Center.

However, pregnant women who are willing to fast during Ramadan should seek their doctor’s advice throughout the month to make sure that fasting is not affecting their baby.

Dr El Taher said that there are concerns that fasting may affect how well a baby grows in the uterus (womb), or that fasting may be linked to premature labour. She added that there is usually an increase in the number of pregnant women visiting the Emergency Department during Ramadan due to fasting.

Some studies suggest that more babies are born early if their mothers fast during Ramadan. If Ramadan coincides with the summer months, this means hot weather and long days, which puts pregnant women at greater risk of dehydration due to a low fluid intake. This could induce premature labour and subsequently lead to preterm births.


Dr El Taher suggested that fasting pregnant women should contact their doctor as soon as possible if they are experiencing these symptoms:

  • Not putting on enough weight or are losing weight
  • Constantly thirsty
  • Urinating less frequently or if their urine becomes dark-coloured and strong-smelling. (This is a sign of dehydration and can make them more prone to urinary tract infections or other complications)
  • Suffering from headaches or other pains, or fever
  • Nauseous or start vomiting

She added that doctors should be notified ‘straight away’ if there is any noticeable change in the baby’s movements, such as if the baby is not moving around or kicking as much; having contraction-like pains – this could be a sign of premature labour; and they feel dizzy, faint, weak, confused or tired, even after they have had a good rest.

According to Dr El Taher, if any of these instances occur, women should break their fast immediately and drink water containing salt and sugar or an oral rehydration solution. They should also contact their doctor immediately.

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