Fasting PSA for Pregnant & Nursing Mamas

Monday, February 8, 2016

Every year around this time I notice a common thread of questions in various facebook groups and online forums - "I'm pregnant/nursing - do I have to fast? Is it really that bad if I do? Should I just do it anyway even though I'm exempt?"

And inevitably, somebody chimes in with, "I fasted when pregnant/nursing/whatever and it was fine!" and I start worrying about overly-scrupulous women who will take this to mean that they can fast, because so-and-so did it with no problem! 

I get it, I do - you want to keep up with what life was like pre-kids, and it shouldn't be such a big deal to cut out the snacking, right?

But it really can be. There's a reason pregnant & nursing women are exempt from the requirement to fast!

From the USCCB:

Q.  Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?A.  Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women.  In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.

You are nourishing another human being.  Even if your body can go for a day with minimal sustenance, you don't necessarily know the effect that will have on your milk supply if you're nursing - for me, every time I've tried to fast while nursing it's dropped my milk supply drastically and takes about a week for it to fully recover (which I only know because for my first four babies I was working and pumping while away from them, so I could base that on when my pumping amounts returned to normal). And poor Cammie learned the hard way, too - don't make the same mistake!

So may I implore you to choose a different penance? Here are some ideas:

- Give up social media or the internet for the day
- Eat a normal amount, but choose foods that would be a penance for you to eat (don't go out of your way to buy nasty food, but maybe cold leftovers that aren't the tastiest, or wheat toast instead of white)
- Do one large meal and two small, but only snack on liquids (broth, milk, juice, smoothies - you'll get calories but sometimes you just want something *crunchy* so you'll be depriving yourself a little, at least)
- Avoid sweets for the day
- Skip the sugar in your coffee
- Pray an extra rosary
- Park in the least-convenient parking spot everywhere you drive

There are plenty of other sacrifices you can make - just pick one!

Thanks for reading! You might also be interested in this list of my posts about Lent, which includes our favorite meatless recipes, Lenten crafts for kids, and two awesome devotionals for women. If you're interested in learning more about our family, click here!

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