Verified by Patricia Shelton MD
Patricia Shelton holds a Doctor of Medicine degree and a Bachelors degree in neuroscience, both from the University of Washington.
It’s your first baby, and you’re excited to be pregnant. So you’ve been reading up on what to expect and how to care for yourself during pregnancy.
But there’s one thing you’re unsure about – what is safe and not safe to eat during pregnancy? More specifically, can you have seafood while pregnant?
You’re not alone. Pregnant women often wonder if eating seafood is safe. Here’s what you need to know.
Can you eat seafood while pregnant?
Yes, you can eat seafood while pregnant. As a general category, seafood is packed with essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. There are many nutrients in it, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein helps your baby’s cells grow and develop, while omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain and eye development. Therefore, these nutrients must be provided to both the mother and the baby during pregnancy.
However, specific types of seafood are higher in mercury, which can harm you and your baby. So, although it’s safe to eat seafood, you should still be picky about which seafood you eat and how often you eat them.
Which seafood is safe during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the best seafood to eat is fish low in mercury. These include salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, and trout. Other seafood includes mussels, shrimp, oysters, scallops, and tilapia.
Avoid Albacore and yellowfin tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and all seafood high in mercury. These kinds of seafood can accumulate high levels of mercury in their bodies, which can be harmful to both you and your baby.
What’s the best way to enjoy seafood during pregnancy?
As suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating 2 to 3 servings of low-mercury fish per week is the best way to enjoy seafood during pregnancy.
Like any other food, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. So, even though seafood is packed with nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy, you should still lessen your intake to avoid consuming too much mercury.
If you’re unsure which fish are safe to eat during pregnancy, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Tips when consuming seafood during pregnancy
Of course, as with anything else you eat during pregnancy, there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to seafood. Here are a few tips:
- Eat a variety of seafood to get different nutrients
- Cook seafood properly to avoid foodborne illness
- Avoid raw or undercooked seafood
- Check local advisories for safe seafood consumption
- Limit the amount of seafood you consume
Eating seafood during pregnancy is perfectly safe and can even be beneficial during pregnancy. However, not all seafood is created equal.
Avoid fish that are high in mercury, and be sure to cook seafood properly to avoid foodborne illness. Following these tips will help you enjoy a healthy and delicious pregnancy diet.
If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor or midwife. They can help you determine what’s best for you and your baby.