Pregnant During Lent and Fasting Question

I was reading the ‘Meat List for Lent’ thread and started to wonder: if a woman is has a high-risk pregnancy during Lent and her doctor tells her not to abstain/fast at all, is it permissible for her to practice some other form of penance or mortification on Fridays? Thanks for any input!

Absolutely. You can give up the TV for instance.

To fast does not have to mean that you aren’t eating, it means that you are giving up something that is uncomfortable for you. It’s the act of giving up something that is the most important.

of course, you can substitute some other penance that wouldn’t be harmful in anyway. pregnant women are not required to fast anyway.

Pax tecum

Thank you so much, IrishDude45, as that’s what I’ve heard! Would you kindly provide me with something definitive from the CCC or elsewhere? I thought the only people who were not required to fast were the ill or those who were outside of the age restrictions. I couldn’t find anything specifically about pregnant women.

(Yes, I really think that pregnant women are exempt from fasting, but I would like to find out where it’s stated. Thanks for any help!)

I, too, understand without having the exact reference, that pregnant women are exempt from fasting and abstinence.

However, if that were not the case, I think it’s quite possible to observe what the Church requires without endangering either the mother’s or the baby’s health.

There are only two fast days - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these days, one may have one full meal and two small meals, all meatless. There is no restriction on beverages, including nutritious, protein-rich milk.

On days of abstinence, it is not required to abstain from protein foods, but from the flesh of warm-blooded animals and birds. That leaves plenty of protein-rich foods still on the menu - fish, eggs, cheese, beans, soy products, peanut butter, milk…

Could it be that many doctors are not Catholic and still have in mind the more rigorous fasting of the past when they make their recommendations?


Canon Law 1983

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence.
“Besides those outside the age limits (i.e. age 14-60), 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.”

The Church defines fasting as one main meal and two small meals per day. Fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by food drinks eg, milk shakes, but not broken by milk itself. Aside from these minimum penitential requirements Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves…

You guys rock for your quick and intellectual answers! The particular OB/Gyn is Catholic.

Trishie, I googled your quote and think that it came from EWTN? Thing is, it’s Colin B. Donovan, STL’s editorial, but not explicitly mentioned in the CCL.

(I realize that I sound like someone who comes here and wants a Catholic to talk about “chapter-and-verse” when we have a different understanding of Sacred Tradition. Believe me, I’m not trying to be such a pain in the neck.)

Catholic Culture gives similar guidelines for Lent, and I found this thread that helps a little. But nothing specifically, explicitly stated. I even mosied on over to the USCCB site but couldn’t find anything there, unless I’m not using the search correctly.

I actually asked my Priest this morning after Ash Wednesday services. I am pregnant and don’t eat seafood and am on medication for nausea and vomiting having lost weight. My Priest told me that I should not be changing my diet. That being said, I just can’t eat meat on Ash Wed or Good Friday so I’m not eating any today. Children are not included in fasting and if you think about it, you’re growing a young child inside of you so it makes sense. I’m just trying to turn the TV off in the evenings and go upstairs and spend time in prayer instead and work on my relationship with Christ.

bernadetteoc wrote:

I’m just trying to turn the TV off in the evenings and go upstairs and spend time in prayer instead and work on my relationship with Christ.

Exactly! That’s what we should be focusing on, people! There is far too much emphasis on the not eating meat thing as if that is an end in itself. Fasting and abstinence are there to turn our minds to God, whether by giving up meat, or giving extra to the poor, or switching off the TV or whatever.

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