Top tips for fasting on the frontline this Ramadan

By Zeenath Uddin, Head of Quality and Safety Midwifery coronavirus Employment Caring For You campaign

The Ramadan start date for 2024 is expected to be on 10 or 11 March. Lasting for 29 or 30 days, Ramadan will end around 9 April, with the celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr.

Here are our top five tips to help make sure you get the support you need during Ramadan.

1. Communicate with your manager and co-workers about your upcoming fast and give them a heads up about Ramadan:

  • What Ramadan is
  • What you will be doing
  • How long it lasts
  • What it requires of you

2. Plan ahead for your upcoming shift. If you start work at 8pm, you will probably pray three or more prayers at work (maghrib, isha, and fajr). If you start in the morning 8am you will pray Zuhr and Asr)

3. Take time to plan out your worship.

  • Allocate space and time for your prayers so that you can excuse yourself, pray and come back. Always communicate with your manager when leaving the ward, as this may mean having someone briefly watch your patients and vice versa. If your facility does not have a prayer room, speak with your manager about a designated space to pray.
  • Always communicate! Your colleagues are kind, generous and understanding than you may think.

3. Nutritious, high energy foods. As you plan for your worship at work, also plan for your nutrition. Try and pack enough food for the night but also enough food for suhoor (preparation for starting the fast) if you are working nights. If working days ensure you have a meal prepared for yourself if you can’t get home on time. Ramadan is a month to teach self-restraint and self-reflection. Consider eating nutritious and high energy foods at iftar (breaking of the fast). When planning meals, think nutrient-dense foods to maximize efficiency.

I, personally, keep my food choices as simple as I can – some of my high energy snacks include:

  • protein shakes
  • dates
  • mylk (milk alternative) delicious!
  • nuts
  • protein sandwiches
  • oats
  • baked potatoes
  • low GI foods

4. Plan ahead for your shift, including prayers. Working in maternity can be unpredictable, but, try your best to have a plan for the whole shift period. Be mindful of your break. Use that time for Quran recitation, dhikr, or even going to the chapel, an empty room and making your own Taraweeh/offering extra prayers (during the night).

5. Be exemplary. Your character, your etiquette, and demeanour will go a long way, so be the best example of yourself! Pack extras and share food with your staff. For example, people love dates; they don't usually eat them. And you know everyone loves ethnic food so be ready to share the love!

What does Ramadan mean to me by Amina Ed-Deen, midwife, Guy's & St. Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust

Ramadan is commonly and well known for the act of fasting - whereby Muslims refrain from any form of food and drink during day light hours.

However, Ramadan signifies much more than the simple act of fasting alone. Muslims are also required to refrain from swearing, committing any acts of violence and committing any negative deeds. It is a time when a Muslim is presented with the opportunity to reflect on their life, actions and deeds from the previous year and contemplate their purpose in life for the coming year - and a time to connect with God, ask for forgiveness and to feed the soul and not just the body.

Working long hours on the ward during Ramadan can be tough - and ensuring I am well hydrated and eating slow-energy release foods during the hours where I am allowed to eat and utilising break times for a power nap, rest and contemplation can help to function well during the day. Also, it is extremely helpful when my colleagues and line manager are supportive, understanding and respectful of this very important act of my faith that I choose to practice.

For me, Ramadan is a time of spirituality and mindfulness - where I try to utilise every opportunity to remember God, understand the meaning of fasting, increase acts of charity and endeavour to be good to those around me.

Muslims are encouraged to perform acts of goodwill during Ramadan as the reward of every good deed is multiplied 70-fold - It is a time that many of us prepare for and await the arrival of every year.

Ramadan mubarak!