Pregnancy is not a disease in itself but there are significant physiological and anatomical changes that may pose some discomfort to the pregnant woman. According to the scholars, pregnant women can be categorised into 2 as far as fasting is concerned:
1. The one who is healthy and fit, who is able to fast without any jeopardy on herself and her baby.
2. The one who is sick and weak, who is unable to fast because of perceived harm on her and her baby.
For pregnant women in category 1, fasting is waajib. The same ruling applies to breastfeeding mothers (after 40 days of postnatal bleeding).
As for those in category 2, they are expected to stop fasting and repay the missed days after childbirth and before the next Ramadan. They fall in the same ruling as the sick or traveller. The evidence for this concession is in a hadith reported by Imaam Ahmad from Anas bin Maalik Al Ka’abi: “Allaah has relieved the traveller of fasting and half of the prayer as He relieved the pregnant and breastfeeding women of fasting” (hasan)
Pregnant women can fall into category 2 due to conditions such as:
*Severe hyperemesis gravidarum (nausea and vomiting with metabolic derangement and marked weight loss)
*Infections like Malaria, respiratory or urinary tract infections etc.
*Pre existing medical conditions with worsening during pregnancy, eg. Sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, etc.
*Longstanding infertility or recurrent miscarriages in the past or bleeding in the present pregnancy (fear that fasting may lead to pregnancy loss)
*Any other condition necessitating hospital admission and aggressive treatment.
Dear mothers, study yourself but do not assume. Discuss with a qualified doctor who also knows some basic fiqh of fasting and let him advise you on which category you fall into.
“… and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you… ” (Qur’an chapter 2 verse 185)