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Intermittent fasting while pregnant – Is it safe?

intermittent fasting while pregnant

Can a woman fast while pregnant?

Intermittent fasting while pregnant requires a very delicate balance. The pregnant women who avoid eating for any time period while expecting a baby produce ketone bodies. These are the molecules produced by the liver during the time of low food intake and have dangerous effects on the developing fetus.

To avoid any risk, the most important thing is to consult your doctor before fasting. Unplanned decisions can lead to severe consequences regarding the baby’s health.

Is intermittent fasting while pregnant safe?

Talk to your doctor before considering whether it is safe to fast while pregnant or not. It depends on multiple factors, like the trimester you are currently in or any underlying medical condition you and your baby might have. Fasting while pregnant can be dangerous if a woman is in the first trimester. As it is the developmental phase of the fetus and all the organs are developing. Insufficient supply of nutrients to the developing organs can lead to permanent impairment.

Water plays a very important role in the development of the baby. Dehydration can lead to low amniotic fluid, preterm labor, and other birth defects. To avoid these symptoms, drink plenty of fluids, including fruits and vegetable juices before fasting.

 

Warning signs of intermittent fasting while pregnant

Break the fast immediately once you experience any of the symptoms given below

  • Dizziness
  • Losing weight
  • Dark-colored urine or reduced frequency of urine. As they are the signs of dehydration
  • The decreased baby movement inside the womb
  • Labor like pains

You can continue fast if it is not causing any problem or symptoms but eat healthy after breaking the fast.

Does intermittent fasting while pregnant affect the baby in the womb?

Intermittent fasting while pregnancy does not directly affect the baby inside the womb. However, it can have long term outcomes.

Apgar score

The Apgar score of the babies of the women who fasted in pregnancy is almost the same as the babies of women who didn’t fast.

Low birth weight babies

If the woman fasts for long periods, the fetal growth can be affected due to insufficient supply of nutrients. As a result of which the babies born are mostly low birth weight, also the organs that are developing can be impaired permanently. The after-effects that can develop in later life include kidney impairment, type2 diabetes leading to coronary heart disease.

Cognitive impairment

The decreased supply of nutrients to the fetus while fasting can lead to increased cortisol level, which can result in cognitive impairment in babies.

How to prepare a pregnant woman for fasting?

Planning before fasting is essential and it also makes fasting easier

  • Limit your intake of addictive substances like coffee, tea, alcohol, and cigarettes at least 2 weeks before fasting season. It will reduce toxins from the body. It will also minimize the withdrawal symptoms you might feel during fasting.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, including water, fruit, and vegetable juices.
  • Avoid food with high sugar content and high-fat content. Reduce the consumption of meat and dairy products. Instead of that, add more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Get proper sleep at night
  • Consult your doctor; get a proper medical check-up to see if there are any complications like anemia or gestational diabetes.
  • Monitor your blood glucose level once you start fasting.

Useful tips for intermittent fasting while pregnant

Continuous fasting for an extended period while pregnant is strictly prohibited, but a woman can fast for a few days. Here are some useful tips a woman must know for being at safe side.

Consult your doctor

Every woman is different; their bodies work differently. So, to avoid any risk and to keep the pregnancy safe, it is essential to consult your doctor before fasting. Get your proper medical done to understand if there is any complication. Monitor your blood sugar level frequently while fasting.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can be very risky for both the mom and the baby inside the womb. Drink plenty of water before fasting to stay the hydrated the whole day. Water plays a vital role in the development of the baby. Dehydration can lead to low amniotic fluid, preterm labor, and birth defects.

Eat healthily

Avoid caffeine-containing drinks, high sugar level food, and fatty food. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables. They are a natural source of sugar and minerals and will help in maintaining energy level. While breaking fast, avoid eating heavy foods like a fried chicken on an empty stomach won’t be good for the baby.

Avoid getting tired

To avoid getting tired, simply avoid any physical activity or walking for a long distance. Try to stay at home. Keep your body at rest; stay calm. This is because the body has a higher stress level while fasting.

Avoid long periods of fasting

Fasting for more extended periods can affect the baby. A pregnant lady can’t keep a fast for more than a day. Don’t feel guilty when you are pregnant and choose not to fast; even your religion calls for it. Most faiths give a pregnant woman a little relaxation, as the health of the mother and the baby is the top priority.

 

How to break the fast in the best way?

  • Include carbohydrates like whole wheat and grains, high dietary fiber food such as vegetables, fruits, and, pulses as they are a source of high energy.
  • Avoid food with high sugar level as they elevate blood sugar level, causing dizziness.
  • High protein diet such as meat, eggs, nuts, and beans are good for baby’s growth.
  • Instead of eating food with high-fat content, eat healthy food like potatoes and chickpeas.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated drinks.

 

Significant risks involved in fasting while pregnant

Intermittent fasting while pregnancy is not a right decision and can have significant effects on the baby’s life. Some of them are

  1. Decreased amniotic fluid due to dehydration resulting in preterm labor
  2. Low birth weight babies
  3. Renal impairment in babies
  4. Type 2 diabetes
  5. Miscarriage
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