Introduction: Fasting during the month of Ramadan is compulsory in the Muslim faith. Although pregnant women may be exempted, many still choose to fast while others are more careful in practising it. This survey examines the practice of fasting among pregnant Muslim women in Singapore based on the prevalence in relation to factors such as parity, social and economic circumstances. It also analyses the factors that influence the decision to fast and the successful completion of the fast, and examines their knowledge, belief and attitudes on fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
Methods: This is a retrospective study of all Muslim women who were pregnant and received antenatal care in our hospital during the month of Ramadan from 17 November 2001 to 16 December 2001. A four-page questionnaire was mailed to all eligible subjects in March 2002.
Results: Of 202 eligible subjects, 125 responded via mail and 57 via the phone, yielding a response rate of 90 percent. Most women chose to fast during pregnancy, and they do so with adequate support from their spouses and family members. Most of them do not experience any adversities during fasting and even if they do, most were able to overcome them. Most women adopt a positive attitude towards fasting. However, there is a lack of basic religious knowledge among many pregnant women pertaining to the Muslim law of fasting during pregnancy.
Conclusion: Doctors and health workers need to understand the religious obligations of a Muslim towards fasting during Ramadan. Only through this can a doctor adequately counsel Muslim patients and allow informed decision with regards to fasting. With respect to pregnant women, provisions are allowed for them not to observe fasting.