9 Sunnah Foods To Eat During Pregnancy
Dates are to Islam like peanut butter is to jelly and are known to be the fruits of paradise. They are mentioned throughout the Quran and in several Hadiths too. For example, when it was time for Bibi Maryam to give birth to Prophet Eesa (S), it is narrated in the Quran:
“A voice called out to her from under her: “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm toward you, and fresh, ripe dates will drop down to you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes …”
(Surah Maryam: 24‐26)
The Prophet (S) has also mentioned: “For pregnant women, especially when giving birth, the best food is dates, because Allāh (SWT) has sworn by its greatness and glory. And if women use ratb (a type of fresh dates) in these days, their newborn children, whether son or daughter, will be forbearing and patient.”1. They really are a blessed fruit, plus tasty too, so be sure to have a good supply of them at home.
The Science: Not only are dates superior as a religious function, but they are a fantastic food for one’s health too. Dates provide a mother with natural sugars, vitamins and nutrients, fibre, and plenty of antioxidants. Although dates are great to eat throughout your pregnancy, many midwives suggest starting on 6 small dates (or 3 larger medjool dates) a day from 36 weeks onwards. Whilst studies show that dates do not shorten labour as such, they are known to relieve the need of Pitocin (oxytocin intervention) which is used to stimulate contractions 2. Just don’t go overboard as it may contribute to an increased gestational weight.
MMM Tip: If you’re getting fed up with eating plain dates on a daily basis, change things up and dip them in chocolate, stuff them with peanut butter, or even make date energy balls or date milkshakes with them.
Quince, like dates, are held at a high superiority in Islam and have been featured in many narrations. When eaten by the mother, it is said that “her child is more sweet smelling and his/her colour is purer”3 as narrated by Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq (S). It is also noted that the Prophet (S) has said “eating quince makes the colour of the skin clear and full of freshness, and makes the child of a person beautiful and healthy as well”4.
The Science: Quince has been associated with fertility and pregnancy for several generations – in fact, it is known to be one of the earliest fruits – and are known for their numerous nutritional benefits. Studies have shown that 1 tablespoon of quince syrup is shown to help alleviate nausea for pregnant women and can be a great alternative to over the counter anti-nausea medication.5
You probably remember learning about the rivers of milk and honey that are in Paradise in Madressa all those years ago so it makes sense that honey was one of the Prophet’s favourite things to consume. It has also been mentioned in the Quran and hadiths that honey is essential for good health and contains many healing properties.
“Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you]. There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed, that is a sign for a people who give thought.”
Surah An-Nahl 16:69
The Science: Honey for babies up to the age of 1 is a complete no-no due to the bacteria that can occasionally be present in a jar of honey and can lead to infant botulism. However it is completely fine for pregnant women to consume honey throughout the 9 months and even post pregnancy too, thanks to all of the goodness it contains. From being used in a warm glass of milk to cure pregnancy insomnia to being eaten by the spoonful to help decrease your allergies or to battle that sore throat, honey is a great staple to have in your maternal diet.
You know figs are going to be a sunnah food when they have an entire surah named after them – Surah At-Tin – and the first verse states: “I swear by the fig and the olive” (Surah At-Tin 95:1). A companion of the Prophet (S), Abu Darda, has also narrated that when the Prophet (S) was presented with a plate of figs, he said “to eat it & if anyone asks me that any fruit has been sent from Paradise , so I will say this is the fruit (fig)”.6
The Science: Figs are great during pregnancy for many reasons including their skyrocket high potassium levels, which puts the humble banana to shame, plus their good amount of calcium and iron. As they are high in omega-3, figs are great for the brain development of a foetus. And if you’re suffering from the terrible morning sickness of the first trimester, many pregnant women swear by figs in helping to alleviate the nausea.
Pomegranates are recommended to be eaten every Friday before breakfast through the duration of your pregnancy and are known to make the child righteous.7 It is also said that eating one pomegranate brings noor (Noble light) to a person’s heart and shaitan will not whisper into their ears for 40 days.8
The Science: Like many of the fruits mentioned on this list, pomegranate is a great source of vitamins and nutrients for the mother as well as providing a good dose of iron and energy too. In fact, due to the high levels of polyphenols present in pomegranates, consuming one glass of pomegranate juice a day has been known to help with a condition called Inauterine growth restriction (IUGR) which occurs due to a problem with the placenta.9 This condition can lead to problems in the baby’s brain development and can even cause a stillbirth so make sure to get your pomegranate fix daily.
6. OLIVES AND OLIVE OIL
Like dates, olives are one of the most blessed fruits in Islam and both olives and olive oil have many references in the Quran.
“And it is He who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest”
Surah Al-A’nam 6:141
In terms of hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (S) said “Eat olive oil and use it on your skin and hair, for it comes from a holy tree”.10 It is also suggested that consuming olive oil cleanses the liver as well as that of the child’s.
The Science: But they aren’t just for a religious function, olives and olive oil have been used medicinally for the last few centuries. Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils to consume in not just a pregnant woman’s diet but anyone’s diet too. It has a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which aids in the brain development of that baby whilst in the womb and post-birth as well, plus contains a good dosage of vitamin A for the baby’s vision.
Drinking milk has been mentioned a few times throughout the Quran. One of the more notable mentions is from the following Surah that states milk is one of the three rivers found in Paradise:
In it are rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey pure and clear.
Surah Muhammed 47:15
It has also been suggested in the Quran that cow’s milk is pure and should be consumed as it is easy to drink:
“There is instruction for you in cattle. From the contents of their bellies, between that which is to be eliminated (from the animal’s body) and (its) blood, We give you pure milk to drink, easy for drinkers to swallow.”
[Surat an‐Nahl: 66]
The Science: Milk is an incredibly rich source of calcium that helps to form strong bones in the growing baby and aids in the transport of oxygen to the foetus. It also contains vitamin D which, according to a study, can prevent allergies forming in the child in the future. Lest not forget all the proteins, amino acids, and fatty acids that are packed in a glass of milk that is used in developing the baby’s nervous system. 11
Watermelon had a special place in the Prophet’s (S) life and was something he ate regularly. He recommended it especially to pregnant women: “None of your women who are pregnant and eat watermelon will fail to produce offspring who are good in countenance and good in character.”. It was also narrated from the Prophet (S) “No pregnant woman eats watermelon with cheese, except that her newborn child becomes beautiful and of a nice figure.”12
The Science: Watermelon is one of the healthiest fruits to exist and is a fantastic snack for all pregnant women. Not only do they have a high water content, which is great in combating dehydration, it also contains natural fruit sugars which can help to alleviate morning sickness. Another fun fact, watermelon contains a high amount of lycopene, an antioxidant, which can help to reduce the risk of preeclampsia by up to 50%.13
Qawoot is a powder made up of wheat, barley, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, melon seeds, purslane seeds, coriander, hemp-seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, peas, sesame, pistachio, coffee, cardamom, cinnamon, almond, and sugar – all roasted and then ground up. Phew – those are a lot of ingredients. Unfortunately, sourcing the powder is pretty much impossible in most countries so it is recommended to eat these ingredients on their own.
It is suggested that both parents should eat qawoot or the ingredients leading up to conception and during pregnancy as it is narrated that a man told Imam as-Sadiq (as): “O son of the Messenger of Allah (SwT), a son has just been born who is weak and simple-minded.” Imam replied: “Why didn’t you eat qawoot? Eat that and recommend your family to do so too. Surely, qawoot makes flesh grow and makes the bones firm, and a son will not be born from you except that he is strong.” 14.
The Science: As mentioned above, qawoot is made up of numerous ingredients which all carry great benefits for a pregnant woman. For example, almonds and pistachios are a great way to consume healthy fats in your diet.
And there you have it, 9 sunnah foods to eat during pregnancy. Don’t feel bad if you are unable to source or stomach the above items, this is just a list of recommended foods. All the best!
Related: What to do after Baby is Born according to Islamic Rites.