God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear: in his favour shall be whatever good he does, and against him whatever evil he does. O our Sustainer! Take us not to task if we forget or unwittingly do wrong! “O our Sustainer! Lay not upon us a burden such as Thou didst lay upon those who lived before us! O our Sustainer! Make us not bear burdens which we have no strength to bear! “And efface Thou our sins, and grant us forgiveness, and bestow Thy mercy upon us! Thou art our Lord Supreme: succour us, then, against people who deny the truth!” (Al-Quran 2:286)
I’m learning something this Ramadan. I’m learning something besides the all important lessons of self-restraint, belief in Allah (swt) and mercy towards the poor. I’m learning about my own inner strength. I’m learning that Allah (swt) has inundated women with an immense power…the power to give birth, care for her child and nourish that child with her own milk. I have been fasting and nursing this Ramadan, and it is teaching much about my own abilities.
If you have never nursed a baby, let me first tell you that it is not an easy feat in and of itself. In order for a woman to produce enough milk to nourish a baby, she must consume extra calories and up her fluid intake. When I first had Zakiyyah, I would never have been able to imagine fasting and nursing her. I was thirsty constantly. I would fill a 32oz. bottle of water and finish it off before lunch. I was also extremely hungry; I ate more than I had when I was pregnant (if that’s possible). As Ramadan neared, I began to feel apprehensive about it. While I didn’t want to miss another Ramadan, I didn’t want to tax my body too much, or put Zakiyyah’s health in danger by lowering my milk supply. I read many Fatawa, and spoke to women who done it themselves. Some women told me that it was impossible, some thought I was crazy for even considering it, some said it was manageable, but definitely a challenge. I began to think that many women in impoverished countries nurse their children and survive while eating much less than I would even while fasting. That changed my point of view. Eventually, I decided to at least give it a try, if I failed I vowed that I would just say “Alhumdullilah,” and make up the days later. I also made du’ah that Allah (swt) would make it easy for me.
Before Ramadan started, I began to improve my diet, in hopes of preparing myself for the challenge. I began to up my water supply and eat more whole grains and protein. I went to my local Farmer’s Market and bought whole grain breads and Organic Dairy products. The first day of the fast, I drank a lot of water during Suhur, and ate whole grain bread, and a bowl of oatmeal with milk. Again, I made du’ah.
I have been fasting since, with the exception of one day when I felt sick. As we near the halfway point, I am so greatful that Allah (swt) has placed within me the ability to fast and nurse. It has not been easy, but it is not unbearable, alhumdollilah. Most importantly, my milk supply has not noticably diminished. I hope and pray that I will be able to continue, and that my fast will be accepted. (amin)