Ramadan in UAE: Can pregnant women fast during the holy month? Experts explain

Medical professionals in the country advise those with medical conditions, including diabetes and high cholesterol, on how best to navigate spiritual practices


Angel Tesorero

Published: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:39 AM

Staying fit during Ramadan involves maintaining a healthy balance between spiritual practices, dietary habits and physical activities, doctors in the UAE have advised.

Preparing one’s body for a month-long of fasting is equally important – particularly for those who are diabetic, with high blood pressure and cholesterol level, and pregnant women.

Here are some tips from UAE doctors:


Fasting during pregnancy

Dr Naela El Sayed Ismail, specialist obstetrics and gynaecology at Prime Hospital Dubai, told Khaleej Times: “Pregnant women who are willing to fast during Ramadan should seek their doctor’s advice throughout the month to make sure fasting is not affecting their baby.”

“It is important for pregnant women to follow up with their doctors before they decide to fast. Fasting is not mandatory for pregnant women, It depends on their condition and capability to fast,” she added.

Dr Ismail noted it is not medically advisable for pregnant women who have complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure or anemia to fast. “Pregnant women with these underlying conditions should avoid fasting to protect themselves and their unborn babies from any further unwanted complications.”

Dr Saba Khalid, specialist family medicine at Prime Medical Centre, added: “Pregnancy can be physically and emotionally demanding so it is important to get enough rest and avoid strenuous physical activities. If you experience any discomfort or health issues during fasting it is important to break the fast and seek medical attention.”

Pointers for pregnant women before fasting:

  • Decision of pregnant women to fast depends on their condition and capability to fast
  • Plan your fasting based on the following food types

- Low glycemic carbohydrates like whole meal bread, oats and sweet potatoes

- Rich fibre food like leafy vegetables and fruits which helps in preventing constipation

- Protein rich food like eggs, fish, meat, and chicken should be well cooked and fresh

Fasting for diabetics

Dr. Bashar Neamat Sahar, specialist endocrinologist at Saudi German Hospital Dubai, said: “If you have diabetes and you are willing to fast during the whole month of Ramadan, it is important to visit your specialist doctor first and get proper advice how to adjust your medicine before Ramadan.”

“Those who have low risk and have controlled diabetes at baseline do not need to adjust the medication,” he added.

Dr. Ghassan Aldadah, internal medicine consultant at Saudi German Hospital Ajman, also advised to maintain sugar level in safe range. “It is highly recommended for diabetic patients to do certain lab tests such as HBA1C (to measure average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months), cholesterol, and other vital signs to evaluate whether they are capable of fasting or not.”

“During fasting, if the patient experiences any of the following signs such as heavy sweating, extreme fatigue, fast heartbeat, severe thirst, and dizziness, he/ she must do measurement of blood sugar. If findings are 70 or less or 300 or more, then immediately the patient has to break fasting,” Dr Aldadah added.

Precautions for diabetics to stay healthy while fasting

  • Make sure you have a glucose meter and know how to use it
  • Meet your dietitian ahead of time to discuss a plan for potential medication adjustments that may be needed, as your meal timing and usual eating patterns will be different during fasting
  • Know what actions to take if you have high and low blood sugars during your fast
  • Schedule a Ramadan preparation visit with your healthcare provider and diabetes care team before the start of Ramadan.

Fasting for those with co-morbid conditions

Those with co-morbid conditions like hypertension, migraine, and hyperlipidemia (high lipids and cholesterol) should make some changes in their food habits and life style during Ramadan,” advised Dr Srinivas Rao, internal medicine specialist at NMC Speciality Hospital Dubai.

Tips to stay healthy

  • Those who are hypertensive should have reduced salt intake
  • Patients with migraine will get frequent relapses during Ramadan due to more caffeine intake and less water intake. So, reduce caffeine intake and increase water intake as much as possible
  • Follow a low-fat diet. Consume less fatty foods and eat more vegetables to avoid hyperlipidemia during Ramadan
  • Exercise to control body physiology. Do medium intensity activities like walking and jogging, especially after breaking the fast or after Suhoor
  • Get enough sleep to give rest to the vital organs


Angel Tesorero

Published: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:39 AM

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