Pregnancy, breast feeding and prenatal care

Breast feeding is naturally Islamic, rewarding and healthy

“Mothers suckle their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the term”.

(Baqara: 233). This quranic verse is encouraging mothers to breastfeed. Here are some comments from traditional scholars;

Qazi Sanu Allah (d;1810) said, “This is a command that is presented as a narrative for the sake of emphasis” In other words it’s the mother’s responsibility to take care of the child. However if she is incapable of breastfeeding because of health problems then it is no longer an obligation”.

Imam Razi (d.1215 ) said, “this is not obligatory it is highly recommended”.

MA Sabuni a contemporary scholar of quran comments “It is obligatory on mothers to suckle their babies for two whole years”. (Safawat-tafsir- 1994 Damascus).

It is the child’s right to be suckled for two years. The Quran is encouraging Mothers to breastfeed and for very good reasons. This goading to breastfeed a child is perhaps because breast-feeding is the best way to nurture a baby. The world health organisation in its reports on breastfeeding mentions several advantages of breastfeeding: –

According to the report breast milk is: –

  • The optimal nutrition for a baby since it has right amounts of nutrients and minerals
  • Mothers’ milk contains antibodies, immune components like anti bacterial, antiviral and anti parasitic. They provide protection against microbes, as well as stimulating the baby’s immune system.
  • Mothers’ who breastfeed are at lower risk of getting Breast cancer.
  • It is recommended that the baby should be exclusively breastfed for first six months. After that it should continue for the first year and even the second year

In addition to these physical health benefits of breastfeeding there are some psycho-social and spiritual benefits as well: –

  • The physical contact between the Mother and baby enhances the bond between them
  • The whole process breastfeeding symbolises compassion, mercy, love and care, the baby feels safe and wanted, the mother also feels valued and enriches the experience of motherhood.
  • The lullabies mother sings help in the sensory and speech development of the baby. This soothing experience is beneficial for the mother and the baby.

The Messenger praised the Mother who breastfeeds. Anas narrated that the Messenger (SAW) said: “When she has delivered and the milk flows and the baby suckles, the mother receives a reward for every suck the reward of one good deed” (At-Tabbarani).

Conception and pregnancy are miraculous

Conception and Pregnancy are wonderful signs of Allah’s creation. The Quran outlines the process of fetal development in the mother’s womb: –

“We created man from an essence of clay, then we placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place, then we made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into s lump of flesh and we made the lump into bones and we clothed those bones with flesh and later we allowed him to grow and mature. Glory be to Allah the best of Creators”. (Mu’minun: 12-14)

Pregnancy is described vividly as a miracle, for nine months the mother is nurturing, caring and developing the baby in her body. It’s an amazing period of joy, anticipation and hope. Sister Humera Khan points out the significance of pregnancy, “It is Allah who has ultimate power over whether a child will be conceived or not. While having children is an important part of Muslim family life, the Quran states clearly that not every couple will conceive a child and that not all conceptions will result in the ultimate birth of a child. Aisha, one of Prophets’ wife never conceived a child.”

(Cycle of Life by Humera Khan – An-Nisa Society 1997)

Pregnancy is not an illness but a natural bodily function. The body is designed to cope with extra emotional and bodily stress, it’s a natural event. Mental and physical health of the mother and father even before conception can have an impact on the pregnancy. That is why Muslim couples must maintain their Moral and Spiritual health all the time, this means being kind, forgiving , patient, modest, appreciative and fair. This will result in a healthy lifestyle where there are positive relationships of love and care. This will have an effect on the growing baby.

A simple healthy lifestyle during pregnancy

Here are three steps:

1. Engage yourself in five daily prayers with full concentration on the lord’s care and love. This will not only help you spiritually to be in tune with the Divine but provide you physical exercise too, by the way performance of five daily prayers burns nearly 500 calories!

2. Be relaxed and grateful to Allah for the gift of conception and pregnancy

3. Always eat healthy food; quran teaches, “eat from healthy wholesome food that God has given you and thank Him for all the gifts” this includes lots of fruit, vegetables lentils and avoid smoking – its harmful and haram – forbidden.

Prenatal health checks are important for you:

Islam teaches we must care for our bodies. We are very fortunate that our country offers one of the best health service in the world. The Prenatal health checks provide an excellent support to pregnant women they help to identify any potential problems and help to allay fears and anxieties about pregnancy.

Islamic teachings constantly emphasize matters of hygiene, health and well being. God is not only our protecting Creator but loving friend who takes care of us “anything good that happens to you is from God; anything bad is from yourself” (An-Nisa:79)

When we ignore, misuse and tamper with our bodies we cause harm. A Muslim is responsible for this wonderful machine that God has given to him, this means taking care of it and looking after it!

Pregnancy is a great miracle that needs care and attention, I believe that the Prenatal health checks are an important way of ensuring that pregnant women receive the highest care they deserve.

The life of the Prophet provides a good example of how to keep healthy: he used to walk fast, some companions could not keep up with him; He used to race even with his wife, who reported that on one occasion the prophet won the race but the second time she won. He urged Muslims to teach their children archery, horse riding and swimming.

During pregnancy the woman has a double responsibility she has to care for herself as well as the unborn baby, she is a trustee. The Quran teaches “Whoever saves a single life it is as though she has saved the entire humanity.” (Maida: 35)

Disease and illness are a result of disharmony between body and spirit, Islam stresses maintaining harmony, so that we remain healthy. The quran explains this idea of balance; “He has set the balance, so that you may not exceed the balance” (rahman;7). It is important for Muslim women to take full advantage of the wonderful health facilities we have in britian. This is even more important during pregnancy so that you can have healthy children.

One of the most effective ways of taking care of our bodies is to watch what we eat. In our consumerist society there is every danger of falling prey to indulging ourselves and over eating. Nearly 30% of Brits are obese, this is a serious problem as it causes high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. The best remedy is to eat moderately, the Prophet taught “fill one third with food, one third with water and leave one third empty”.