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Ramadan fasting ‘going well’ despite mislaying house keys: pregnant British Muslim

LONDON: Apart from accidentally leaving her keys at home on the first day of Ramadan, pregnant British Muslim Sabra Beekar said fasting during the holy month had been manageable so far.

Although pregnant and breastfeeding women are exempt from fasting during the holy month, many Muslim women choose to fast during their pregnancies or when lactating because others around them do the same.

The 35-year-old translator said: “I’m choosing to fast this year despite my pregnancy because fasting during Ramadan has always been part of my life. My family and friends are fasting and it’s something I’m trying out for now.

“Fasting on the first day of Ramadan this year went well, and I didn’t feel tired or thirsty. I drank plenty of water the night before and went to bed early after iftar.

“I did leave my keys at home when I went to pick up my eldest daughter from school which meant that we had to get the bus to my husband’s workplace so we could let ourselves back in, but apart from that, my day went pretty smoothly,” Beekar added.

Now 18 weeks pregnant with her third child, Beekar noted that she did not fast during her first pregnancy because the holy month fell during the summer that year and the fasts were much longer.

During her second pregnancy, she fasted during the first week of Ramadan but stopped after she started to feel unwell. Her doctor recommended that she did not continue, and she took the advice.

The Islamic calendar system is lunar-based and shifts by around 10 days earlier each year, so fasting hours can vary by season and geography.

This year in the UK, a fast will last around 13 hours at the beginning of the holy month, creeping up to 15 hours by the end as the clocks go forward by one hour at the end of March to mark the beginning of British Summer Time.

Beekar said she gave special attention to her diet, making sure she ate a balanced iftar and drank plenty of water. For their first iftar, she made her family a traditional Algerian meal consisting of vegetable and meat soup, a meatball dish, and salad. She served fruit for dessert.

She planned to continue fasting during Ramadan but would stop if she detected any warning signs such as feeling very thirsty or tired.

“Pregnant women have to take good care of their health in general. They must be sure that they are able to fast and consulting a doctor or midwife is very important.

“Drinking lots of water before and after fasting to ensure they stay hydrated during fasting hours is key, and so is listening to your body,” Beekar added.

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