Whether you catch it yourself or reel it in at the grocery store, eating fish can be part of a healthy diet during pregnancy. Research suggests that there are significant health benefits to eating fish. It's extremely nutrient dense, rich in high quality protein, and low in saturated fat and sodium. Not to mention the fact that it contains omega-3 fatty acids, a unique kind of fat that's extremely beneficial. Eating a variety of fish during pregnancy may:
prevent high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a combination of symptoms during pregnancy that include high blood pressure, edema, swelling, and changes in reflexes.
enhance the baby's brain development.
promote the birth of a full term baby with a higher and healthier birth weight.
There is a caution, though. Because of environmental pollutants, some varieties of fish may be contaminated with mercury or PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pollutants which can cross the placenta and be harmful to your baby. To safely include fish in your diet during pregnancy, follow these tips:
Never eat raw fish or raw shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels, or sushi. They can harbor several serious viruses.
Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish because of mercury contamination.
Limit golden or white snapper, tuna steak, and albacore tuna ("white" tuna) to 1 serving per month.
Limit canned light tuna to 1-2 6-ounce cans a week. (It's considered safer than fresh.)
Be adventurous in sampling the wide variety of fish available, including bass, catfish, clams, cod, crab, croaker, flounder, freshwater perch, haddock, herring, lobster, mackerel, marlin, ocean perch, orange roughy, oysters, halibut, pollack, red snapper, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and sole.
Limit your consumption of fish caught by friends and check local safety advisories for guidelines. If you can't obtain safety information, limit your total fish consumption to 6 ounces per week. To read the entire 2004 FDA & EPA advisory or get answers to frequently asked questions, click here.
Seafood and listeria
Listeria is a type of bacteria found everywhere. Listeria can cause a food-borne illness called listeriosis, which is extremely dangerous for a pregnant women and her unborn baby. Listeriosis can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, and fetal death. A pregnant woman is more susceptible to Listeriosis because of the normal pregnancy changes that affect your immune system.
Listeria are unusual because they can grow at refrigeration temperatures of 40 degrees or below. Only cooking kills them. Therefore follow these food safety tips:
"Be adventurous in sampling the wide variety of fish available, including bass, catfish, clams, cod, crab, croaker, flounder, freshwater perch, haddock, herring, lobster, mackerel, marlin, ocean perch, orange roughy, oysters, halibut, pollack, red snapper, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and sole." -- TANYA_BABYFIT
"How about crab? I saw a mention of shellfish and lobster... However I didn't see crab. Would it be safe to eat steamed crab?" -- GIBSMOE
"It's okay to eat other cooked fish/seafood as long as a variety of other kinds are selected during pregnancy or while a woman is trying to become pregnant. You can choose shellfish, canned fish, smaller ocean fish, or farm-raised fish. You can safely eat 12 ounces per week of a variety of cooked fish. A typical serving size of fish is from 3 to 6 ounces. Of course, if your serving sizes are smaller, you can eat fish more frequently. You can learn more at -- TANYA_BABYFIT
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
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