Many Islamic traditions teach us about the importance of caring for one’s health and what…
Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Receiving the news that we are expecting a child is one of the most exciting times in our lives; at the same time, it can also create a sense of anxiety and stress. Islamic tradition, by virtue of the Prophet and his family (pbut), offers us an array of advice and wisdom as to how we can transform this experience into one that is God-centric and an opportunity to connect ourselves and our children with the Creator.
Upon a child’s birth, the lives of the parents, and specifically the mother, transform in many ways. As much as the rhetoric around pregnancy can contribute to worry, the mother occupies a sanctified position in the eyes of God. God states, “We have advised the human being to be kind to his parents; his mother bore him with hardship and delivered him while suffering a great deal of pain.”1
The Quranic recognition of the difficulty that pregnancy and childbirth induce alleviates some of the burden, as we recognize that God is with us, even during this difficult time. The teachings of our infallible guides provide us with important advice in terms of diet, exercise, worship, and supplication to make this time a more positive experience.
Diet and Exercise
As exciting as it is, pregnancy is a delicate and miraculous time for all women. One of the most important things to do (and it is what every mother would want to do) is to create the best environment for the fetus to be able to develop properly. To do this, it is important to follow a healthy diet during this time. Eating foods that are in rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains is crucial for the baby’s growth and development. Traditions from the Holy Household (pbut) teach us the benefits of consuming certain foods. For example, narrations tell us that the Prophet (pbuh&hp) said: “Eat quince…and feed it to your pregnant women, for it benefits your children.”2
Furthermore, studies show that regular exercise has numerous benefits for expectant mothers. Exercise “can improve your posture and decrease some common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. There is evidence that physical activity may prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), relieve stress, and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.”3
Exercise not only benefits the mother, but it is also good for the fetus’s health. Studies show that babies born to mothers who were active during pregnancy had better heart health and advanced brain development.4 The benefits of healthy eating and exercise can be found here, and they can specifically transform a woman’s pregnancy into a better overall experience.
Of course, it is important for expectant mothers to consult their doctors and medical professionals for direction on acceptable exercises during pregnancy.
Recommended Acts of Worship
The religion of Islam provides holistic instruction in terms of how to connect with God throughout our pregnancy and into labor by recommended supplications and acts of worship.
One of the most important things to pray for is having a child that will be among the righteous. We see numerous examples of different prophets in the Holy Quran praying for God-conscious children. For example, God states, “Abraham prayed, ‘Lord, grant me a righteous son.’”5 Another example is of Prophet Zachariah when God states, “Zachariah prayed to his Lord there, saying, ‘Lord, grant me, by Your Grace, virtuous offspring. You hear all prayers.’”6
Furthermore, at just eighteen weeks, the fetus’s ears are developed and can hear the mother’s heartbeat, voice, and even some loud sounds from outside.7 Since the unborn child can hear in the womb, what better words should we channel to them than the blessed words of God. God states, “We reveal the Quran which is a cure and mercy for the believers.”8 The word of God has unlimited blessings and will benefit both the mother and the unborn child, as studies show that the mother’s mental health has an effect on the fetus.9 Click here to learn more about the importance of reciting the Holy Quran.
Moreover, reciting supplications that were taught to us by the Holy Household (pbut), offering the night prayer, and being in constant remembrance of God are all acts that bring immense blessings. Cultivating a spiritually healthy mind and heart has a direct and positive effect on the fetus.
Childbirth and Delivery
Between thirty-seven and forty weeks, the unborn child will be ready to enter this world. It is a very exciting time for parents as they will be able to finally meet and hold their little one for the first time. For many women, the idea of childbirth is frightening, especially for first-time mothers. Speaking with our doctor about what to expect, asking for exercises that reduce labor pains, and asking for types of medication that help with labor pains can all help make childbirth less fearful.
However, no matter how prepared we are, sometimes things take a different direction and situations become beyond our control. Some women may experience a long and difficult labor. This is one of those times to put our trust in the hands of God. The Holy Household (pbut) have given us supplications to recite during a difficult labor. For example, there was a man who came to Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p) and told him that his wife was about to die from the pain of labor. The Imam (p) told him to go back to his wife and recite the following verses from the chapter of Maryam from the Holy Quran, “When she started to experience (the pain of) childbirth labor, by the trunk of a palm tree in sadness she said, ‘Would that I had died long before and passed into oblivion.’ Then she heard the baby saying, ‘Do not be sad. Your Lord has caused a stream to run at your feet. If you shake the trunk of the palm tree, it will provide you with fresh ripe dates.’” The Imam (p) then told the man that after the recitation of these verses to recite in a loud voice, “When God brought you out of your mother’s wombs, you knew nothing. He gave you ears, eyes, and hearts so that perhaps you would give Him thanks.” Then say, “Oh labor pain, remove yourself! Leave in the name of God!” Imam al-Baqir (p) told the man that after reciting this, childbirth would be over for her with the help of the Almighty.10
Another tradition reports that Imam Ali (p) said, “I know two verses from God’s book [the Quran], that can be written for a woman who experiences difficult childbirth. [These verses] are to be written on the skin of an antelope, and then wrapped around her waist. The verse ‘In the name of God and by God, After every difficulty there is relief. Certainly, after every difficulty there comes relief’ should be written seven times. And the verses, ‘People, have fear of your Lord; the quake (of the physical realm) at the Hour of Doom will be terribly violent. When that hour comes, every breast-feeding mother will drop her baby out of fear and every pregnant female will cast off her burden. You will see the people behaving as though they were drunk, while, in fact, they are not drunk. They only will look such because of the severity of God´s torment’ should be written once.”11
Furthermore, there are no words to describe the feeling we get when we finally hold our little one for the first time. The emotions of love, happiness, and excitement fill our hearts as we snuggle our bundle of joy, and we should be nothing but thankful to the Almighty for all His blessings.
Bits of Advice
1. Take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is crucial to your well-being and the well-being of your child. As stated above, following a healthy diet, exercising, and being spiritually healthy are all steps we can take to have a healthy pregnancy.
2. Stay connected to God: As mentioned above, it is important to take care of our spirituality throughout the pregnancy, as it fills us with blessings and creates a very positive environment for the little one.
3. Give your child a good name. This a good time to contemplate a good name to give the baby. It is vital to choose a good name for our children because people will call them by that name for their rest of their lives. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) states, “Some of the child[ren’s] right[s] over [their] parents are that they give [them] a good name, teach [them] how to write, and get [them] married when [they] become of age.”12
1. The Holy Quran 46:15, Quranic quotes in this blog are from the Muhammad Sarwar translation.
2. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 63, p. 176.
3. Johnson, Traci C., “Pregnancy and Exercise,” WebMD, September 9, 2018, https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy#1.
4. Dennis, Jen and Paige Fowler, “How Third-Trimester Exercise Benefits Your Baby,” Parents, accessed January 8, 2020, https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/fitness/why-pregnancy-workouts-build-better-babies/.
5. The Holy Quran 37:100.
6. The Holy Quran 3:38.
7. similac.com, accessed January 8, 2020, https://similac.com/pregnancy/18-weeks-pregnant.
8. The Holy Quran 17:82.
9. “Can Fetus Sense Mother’s Psychological State? Study Suggests Yes,” ScienceDaily, November 10, 2011, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110142352.htm.
10. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 92, p. 116-117.
11. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 92, p. 116.
12. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 71, p. 80.
1. قال تعالى: ((وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا)).
2. روي عن النبي (ص): “كلوا السفرجل …. وأطعموا حبالاكم فإنه يحسن أولادكم”
5. قال تعالى: ((رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ)).
6. قال تعالى: ((هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ ۖ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ)).
8. قال تعالى: ((وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا)).
10. روي عن جابر بن يزيد الجعفي أن رجلا أتى أبا جعفر محمد بن علي الباقر عليه السلام فقال:
“يا ابن رسول الله أغثني، فقال: وما ذاك؟ قال: امرأتي قد أشرفت على الموت من شدة الطلق، قال: اذهب واقرء عليها “فأجائها المخاض إلى جذع النخلة قالت يا ليتني مت قبل هذا وكنت نسيا منسيا، فناديها من تحتها ألا تحزني قد جعل ربك تحتك سريا، وهزي إليك بجذع النخلة تساقط عليك رطبا جنيا ” ثم ارفع صوتك بهذه الآية ” والله أخرجكم من بطون أمهاتكم لا تعلمون شيئا وجعل لكم السمع والابصار والأفئدة لعلكم تشكرون، كذلك اخرج أيها الطلق، اخرج بإذن الله ” فإنها تبرأ من ساعتها بعون الله تعالى.”
11. روي عن أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام: “إني لأعرف آيتين من كتاب الله المنزل، يكتبان للمرأة إذا عسر عليها ولدها، يكتبان في رق ظبي ويعلقه في حقويها ” بسم الله وبالله إن مع العسر يسرا، إن مع العسر يسرا – سبع مرات – يا أيها الناس اتقوا ربكم إن زلزلة الساعة شئ عظيم، يوم ترونها تذهل كل مرضعة عما أرضعت وتضع كل ذات حمل حملها، وترى الناس سكارى وما هم بسكارى ولكن عذاب الله شديد ” مرة واحدة يكتب على ورقة وتربط بخيط من كتان غير مفتول، ويشد على فخذها الأيسر فإذا ولدته قطعته من ساعتك، ولا تتوانى عنه.
12. روي عن النبي (ص): “من حق الولد على والده ثلاثة: يحسن اسمه، ويعلمه الكتابة ويزوجه إذا بلغ.”
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