Fasting While Pregnant?

Q. Are pregnant women exempt from the fast before the celebration of the Eucharist? It’s not an infirmity, but often pregnant women feel faint or nauseous if they don’t eat frequently. Also, if a pregnant woman feels queasy from morning sickness, is it best not to take Communion?

Lindsay, via email

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

The guidelines for proper reception of holy Communion help us get the most grace out of this encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. Practicing Catholics, in the state of grace, who have abstained for at least one hour from “food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine” (Canon 919), may receive holy Communion. That same canon points out that “the elderly, and those who are suffering from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the blessed Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something.”

I think it’s reasonable for a pregnant woman to consider herself exempt from the Eucharistic fast, if such a practice were to make her faint or ill. If she feels “queasy from morning sickness,” it would be best to refrain from holy Communion until she feels better.

The guidelines of the Church for proper reception of holy Communion are ecclesiastical laws, and therefore admit of exception.