**DISCLAIMER: We are NOT in any way affiliated with the What to Expect When You’re Expecting franchise.**
by Zainab Yate
As a breastfeeding peer supporter, I see many Muslim women every week who struggle with becoming a new mom/parent, and breastfeeding. The cultural practices and misinformation new parents receive from in-laws, relatives and even friends perpetuate their problems, resulting in many Muslim parents not being able to reach their parenting goals.
Islam places a lot of importance in the role of guardianship in parenthood. It makes clear that your children are only trusts, given to you by Allah for a short amount of time, to do your best by. With this role comes accountability, and the belief of judgement by Him who entrusted these gifts to us.
It is wise to take parenting duties very seriously as you enter it in your lifetime. So, here are some tips for you in sha Allah:
The Fard, the Sunnah & the Customary
Doing the “right” thing isn’t often black and white for many of us because of lack of Islamic education, and uninformed family and friends who surround us. An example of this is an aqueeqah or the slaughtering of an animal for the child’s birth.
It is not obligatory, but rather recommended.
For example, if you end up having a C-section, or you and the child are not well, are not close to any family or do not have the money, then you may not logistically be able to hold an aqueeqah and instead delaying it when it is more appropriate and feasable. It is up to you and your husband to decide what to do based on your ability and circumstances.
Make Informed Decisions
Do not be forced into making decisions you do not want to make, or you are uncomfortable with. Knowing why you are doing certain actions gives you a good platform to be confident in, but don’t feel you have to justify yourself to anyone.
Part of being a parent is to take the burden of the consequences of decisions you have made, based on your research, and it should ultimately be up to both you and your spouse to decide what is in the best interest of your child, and how you go about it.
Things like circumcision are very contentious subjects now in the 21st Century, and can be met with a lot of hostility outside of the Muslim community. So read up on the benefits of circumcision, but also the risks (as it is a surgical procedure), so you make informed decisions.
Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices
Giving birth and bringing up a child is no easy feat to tackle. In fact, Islam teaches us that raising children will be the single most important thing most people will have to do in this world. Part of becoming a good parent means doing it with dedication, and consequently self-sacrifice.
Women usually have to put their education and careers on hold, sometimes having to give them up completely!
Babies take a lot of care, and demands are high even before they are born. So, make sure read up on newborn behaviours, get rid of or consolidate as many debts, duties and unnecessary worries and stressors before your baby is born. By doing so, you can commit to your new role while reducing your stress levels and worries, so you can focus on being a nurturing parent, and look after the trust Allah sub hana wa ta’ala gave you.
Your baby is a new life, so you should treat it like one and make time and space for it, in sha Allah.
About the Author
Zainab’s background in academia is in Medical Ethics and Law (Imperial College, MSc), and she is researching her doctorate in Bioethics. Her working background is in Public Health and commissioning with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. She is Alt. Vice Chair and named qualitative lead of north London Research Ethics Committee, with the Health Research Authority in the UK (HRA). She is also a member of the Kings College London Research Ethics Governance and Policy Committee (KCL). She has been a breastfeeding peer supporter with the NHS for a number of years and is the owner author of the resource site for mothers and healthcare practitioners on Breastfeeding/Nursing Aversion and Agitation (BAA), www.breastfeedingaversion.com, where she researches and writes for the viewers of this site, to try to understand what BAA is and why it arises. She also regularly produces factual videos on breastfeeding, parenting, life topics, and is the owner of ‘Factavid’ on Facebook/YouTube.
Informative videos on the above can be found here:
Skin – to – skin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2sKSz9rwlU
Breastfeeding : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3BMashAOCA&t=24s
1. Modanlou HD. Avicenna (AD 980 to 1037) and the care of the newborn infant and breastfeeding. J Perinatol. 2007 Sep 6;28(1):3–6.
2. Lancet T. Breastfeeding: achieving the new normal. The Lancet. 2016 Jan 30;387(10017):404.
3. Victora CG, Bahl R, Barros AJD, França GVA, Horton S, Krasevec J, et al. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet. 2016 Jan;387(10017):475–90.
4. Al-Binali AM. Breastfeeding knowledge, attitude and practice among school teachers in Abha female educational district, southwestern Saudi Arabia. International Breastfeeding Journal. 2012;7:10.
5. Can the mother ask the father for payment in return for breastfeeding her children from him? – islamqa.info [Internet]. [cited 2017 Jan 3]. Available from: https://islamqa.info/en/130116
6. Islam M, Rahman S, Kamruzzaman, Islam M, Samad A. Effect of maternal status and breastfeeding practices on infant nutritional status – a cross sectional study in the south-west region of Bangladesh. Pan African Medical Journal [Internet]. 2013 Dec 12 [cited 2017 Jan 6];16(139). Available from: http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/16/139/full/#.WG93g1OLTIU
7. Cassidy T, Tom AE. Ethnographies of Breastfeeding: Cultural Contexts and Confrontations. Bloomsbury Publishing; 2015. 280 p.
8. Ozdemir R, Ak M, Karatas M, Ozer A, Dogan DG, Karadag A. Human milk banking and milk kinship: perspectives of religious officers in a Muslim country. J Perinatol. 2015 Feb;35(2):137–41.
9. Gilʻadi A. Infants, Parents and Wet Nurses: Medieval Islamic Views on Breastfeeding and Their Social Implications. BRILL; 1999. 212 p.
10. Preventing Ethical Dilemmas [Internet]. Medscape. [cited 2017 Jan 6]. Available from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/457485
11. McFadden A, Mason F, Baker J, Begin F, Dykes F, Grummer-Strawn L, et al. Spotlight on infant formula: coordinated global action needed. The Lancet. 2016 Jan;387(10017):413–5.
12. v084p000F6.pdf [Internet]. [cited 2017 Jan 6]. Available from: http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC1721205/pdf/v084p000F6.pdf