Do I fast if I'm nursing?

Last year I was pregnant, so I know I didn’t have to fast. This year I have a 4 1/2 month old baby who is exclusively breastfed. Do I fast or not? I will do it if I’m supposed to, but I don’t want to deprive my baby if it isn’t necessary. I have looked online and can’t seem to come up with a definitive answer. I have no other medical conditions such as diabetes, etc that would preclude fasting. Thanks for a quick answer!

To clarify, I am doing other forms of penance. These include a second meatless day besides Fridays during the week, saying 5 decades of the rosary daily, and doing the devotional found in the Magnificat Lenten Companion. Thanks again.

Remember that a fast does not mean, “no food at all”. It means one full ‘regular’ meal, and two smaller meals which, taken together, do not ‘add up’ to another FULL meal.

For example, instead of having toast, cereal and eggs for breakfast with fruit and coffee (a ‘full’ meal) you would have perhaps toast and a grapefruit (which is less than half caloriewise of the ‘full’ meal).

Instead of having salad, sandwich, fruit, and a sweet for lunch, you’d have a simple salad and fruit. Less than ‘half’.

And for dinner-- regular dinner.

No ‘eating between meals’ except tea, coffee, or necessary fluids.

You still have ‘meals’, you’re hydrated, you might be a little hungrier than usual until dinner but you’ve taken your needs and your baby’s into account–and you’ve made your fast.

God bless.

(Mother of 3)

No, pregnant and breastfeeding moms, DO NOT have to fast! I will find documentation at a more sane hour, lol.

But you can give up unecessary foods that don’t help you or your baby during regular meals.


True, one does not ‘need’ to fast; but if one can do so comfortably and safely, I think that would be a good thing.

Myself, I was a little on the hefty side when my children were younger, so I could quite easily fast with no ill effects at all. Others who are thin already, or have children with heavy nursing requirements, might find even a ‘regular’ fast too much. You could always consult your doctor to be sure.

As a side bar, you know how the requirements for fast are basically 18-59–well my mother, at 77, has been, and will, fast, despite being tiny and with a few health problems, because her doctor (bless his heart) has said she’s fit to do so. So if people for the good reasons listed (and others we may not have) cannot fast–don’t worry. My mom’s got your back. :smiley:

Exactly. Do NOT fast as in eating too little. Give up sodas, sweets, whatever, but you are exempt from fasting.

Yes, and I’ve heard/read time and time again that we are not to do more than required (when it comes to fasting) without direction from a spiritual advisor.

So nursing mommies, find other ways to be penitent, but do not limit your healthy food intake! Especially if your baby is still breastfeeding as the main source of nutrition.


Those who are excused from fast or abstinence

Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.


Its a little late to answer this now… at least for Ash Wednesday, but it may be relevant for Good Friday, or for others next year :). I think if there is any doubt about one’s ability to hold to the fast, that it is probably wise to consult your doctor. In almost every category of exemption, there are those who can keep to the fast with no harm (or even with benefit) and those to whom the fast would threaten their health. A doctor should be able to tell you pretty readily if the rather mild Catholic Fast would cause any problems.


Okay, now that we’re halfway through the day, I can get back to find out the verdict. :slight_smile:

I have decided to fast. Normally when I fast I do bread and water only from sunrise to sunset with a regular supper. Today and Good Friday I will modify that by eating a small peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk for breakfast. For lunch I had two hardboiled eggs and a slice of bread with butter with water to drink. Tonight I’ll have fishsticks and macaroni with the family. I’m also not having my customary one soda of the day, nor am I having coffee or tea (even decaf! :yawn: ). I am also staying away from those Dove Dark Chocolate hearts that my DH brought me last week for Valentine’s Day. That’s a lot harder than the soda! LOL!

I guess that it was always easier for me to do a hard fast so that I wasn’t tempted to overeat. It’s so hard to gauge when I have enough to keep up strength, but haven’t eaten enough to get over my hunger.

I did pray over this this morning at Mass, so I feel this is where the Spirit has led me. I wasn’t comfortable with my normal level of fasting, but I also wasn’t comfortable doing nothing (even if I am excused! I even felt guilty last year when I was pregnant!). I think this middle of the road path will do okay for my dd. Thanks for all of your input!

Nursing is definitely in realm of ‘accepted exceptions’. I could not do a total fast this year if I wanted to! I’d keel over dead. Your body NEEDS food to make milk for the baby. I am doing exactly what the rules say, 2 small meals and one regular meatless meal. Most years I do only water, or bread and water, but not this year! Gianna needs me to be well nourished so she can get what she needs.

Edit: OK, posted at the same time as you! You’ve got the right idea!

I tell you what, it would be easier for me to give up my shoes for Lent rather than chocolate, more so since I am also breastfeeding.:wink:

I too am breastfeeding my 6 week old and I have struggled with the fast thing for today. As it is now after 1 (Indiana time) I have kept my breakfast and lunch small and like so many of you have not had that “full” feeling. The soda thing today is harder than I thought and I have a huge headache but I am determined it is all water today! lol

I think you need to do what feels right to you. I have been pregnant or nursing (a few of them actually pregnant AND nursing) for the past 4 Lents (I have 4 children under the age of 4). I did not even attempt a bread and water fast, but the normal prescribed fast (and abstinence) did not hurt me or my children one bit. I did make sure to stay hydrated on water on the days I fasted, and I tried to make sure what I did eat was healthy (i.e. a high protein, high fiber granola bar for breaskfast, and a smoothie with wheat germ, yogurt, and fruit for lunch). However, if I had been in my first trimester (where I had to eat nearly constantly to keep from vomiting), I probably wouldn’t have fasted. As for abstaining from meat, there are plenty of other ways to get protein.



Pregnant or nursing mothers, or anyone with any kind of health problem that makes fasting inadvisible, were never required to fast anyhow. It’s two days, of two small meals and one large meal, hardly a huge sacrifice, more symbolic of the lenten change of heart we are working form.

i don’t fast while nursing or pregnant…i have to eat more than i normally do just to keep up with the nursing…i focus on ohter fasts, just not food

Just to contribute my part, I have always considered nursing a very clear dispensation for fasting. It takes more calories than pregnancy, since the baby is bigger. That would be especially true for moms with small babies who are getting most or all of their calories from milk.

I would say nursing women are free to fast just those two days if they choose to, but only if they do so with prudence, making sure they take something to eat right away if they feel weak or bad in some manner. And I would say if the woman is only just starting to nurse a baby, and getting her milk supply established, she should definitely avoid it as a matter of prudence; the baby needs that milk!

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