I found this article via Reddit. It’s a couple years old, but I think it’s pretty relevant considering both the fact that Ramadan started a couple of weeks ago and … well … it’s pretty damned important.
Pregnant Muslim women who fast during Ramadan are likely to have smaller babies who will be more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood, according to new research. […] The trend was clearest if the fasting was done early in the women’s pregnancy, and during the summer months, when long hours of daylight called for them to go longer without food.
For a lot of people this just reinforces the obvious when considering tradition of either a religious or cultural sort: they should give way to reality as necessary. I understand the importance of keeping some traditions alive, if only to serve as a reminder of where you came from, the history of your people, or as a way to keep in mind the struggles of those who are forced to go without.
But when one of these requires that you not eat at all during the day for an entire month … and you happen to be pregnant, you might want to consider that some things are more important than tradition and just go eat whenever you’re hungry. Especially when you consider the consequences to the child you’re going to bring into the world – in this case, a 20% higher adult disability rate.
Although pregnant women may request an exemption from fasting, they are expected to “make up” the fasting days missed during pregnancy after their baby is born.
… because nothing fortifies breast milk like not eating all day. Though I have it on good authority that for all intents and purposes you don’t eat after you give birth anyway. Nor do you shower, sleep, or use the can for longer than 20 seconds at a time. So, who knows? There might not be that much of a difference.
To be fair, it’s not like this everywhere. Obviously, here in America, it’s up to the individual. We know a Muslim couple, and the wife didn’t fast while she was pregnant or when she was getting her PhD. “How can you study properly or nourish your unborn child when you’re not eating?” she’d say. Good point. Additionally, some imams in the Muslim community in Great Britain maintain that if fasting does harm to either the mother or the child, then it shouldn’t be done at all … especially during the summer months.
Still, in many other parts of the world, social and family pressure might be enough to drive them to do it anyway regardless of the consequences. In those cases, it may be less about doing what’s right and more about doing what you’re told.