pregnant fish

Among the kinds of food that you should eat while being pregnant, fish stands out as one of the most controversial.

If you are expecting a child or looking for one, you may already know that there are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy, so that you can guarantee a healthy foetal development when pregnant. Fish is included in this list of foods to be aware of, but it's a special case: on the one hand, it has multiple benefits for your health and the baby's but, on the other hand, there are some species that could seriously affect your little one's development.

Then, what should you do when you are pregnant? Fish, yes or no? That's what we are going to clear up in the following lines.

 

Eating when pregnant: Fish, a huge source of nutrients 

Eating the right amount of certain types of fish during pregnancy is nothing but necessary to create a balanced diet. Most experts defend the idea of eating some fish when having a baby on the way because it has countless benefits for both of you, such as: 

  • Omega-3: these fatty acids, above all DHA and EPA, boost the baby's brain and eye development. Doctors consider that Omega-3 is especially important during the last trimester of your pregnancy, when the baby's brain is getting fine-tuned.

  • Lean proteins: fish is loaded with lean proteins, vital amino acid that support the foetal growth by helping create all of your baby's cells.

  • Improving your memory and mood: studies have shown that the right intake of Omega-3 can boost your memory, which may come in handy if you are suffering from the so called 'pregnancy brain', the typical forgetfulness caused by pregnancy hormones. Also, DHA is thought to improve your mood, which may reduce the chances for you to have postpartum depression.

  • Less risk of heart disease: introducing fish into your diet is basic to reduce the levels of triglycerides and blood pressure, which is good to prevent heart problems.

  • Lower risk of preterm birth: other researchers have come to the conclusion that preterm birth rates drop in those places where fish is highly consumed.

 

Eating when pregnant: Fish, how much should I eat? 

Despite being so good for you, fish has also mercury, a neurotoxin that in high quantities can be harmful to your baby's developing brain, being able to cause motor skills, vision and language problems. That's why experts recommend eating low-mercury fish when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The healthy amount goes from 220 to 340 grams a week.

 

Eating when pregnant: Fish to avoid...

When you are pregnant, fish must be distinguished properly, with no 'in-betweens'. Basically, you need to stay away from high-mercury fish, which generally includes big predators that accumulate their preys' mercury in their bodies: shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel are the most representative.  Along with these, you should avoid eating fish from polluted lakes and contaminated waters, since they could have high doses of pernicious chemicals, like PCB's. Other experts suggest that you should keep yourself from eating bluefish, fresh or frozen tuna, stripped bass and marlin, among others.

And what happens with canned fish like white albacore tuna? Well, it's ok for you to have up to 170 grams per week.

 

…and fish to eat

So what should you eat after all? Though the scientific debate regarding this issue isn't over yet, experts agree on a list of fish to ingest while carrying a child. Excluding the four predators listed above, you can have two to three servings of any fish and shellfish a week, though the most advisable ones are: shrimp, catfish, wild salmon, flounder, tilapia, sole,halibut, haddock, trout, ocean perch and pollock.

Apart from these, you can perfectly eat canned light tuna, farm-raised fish and smaller ocean fish.

 

Eating when pregnant: Fish, how should I cook it?

Obviously, the way of cooking fish in pregnancy matters as well. When pregnant, fish requires special precautions in the kitchen. Avoid any risk of being infected with bacteria by preparing your fish dishes properly. Here's some advice about it:

  • Invest in fresh fish and either eat it right away or keep in a sealed container in the fridge.
  • Make new marinates to steep the fish in flavours and don't reuse old ones.
  • Be careful not to use cutting boards where you have previously chopped meats.
  • Cook fish until its colour turns milky white and it easily flakes. When preparing seafood, make sure it reaches a temperature of 63º and, in case of having clams or mussels, be sure that their shells are open. You should throw away the ones that remain closed.

Are you a sushi lover? If so, you have to know that doctors advise against having it while expecting a child. Raw and undercooked fish can contain bacteria and certain parasites, such as anisakis and listeria, which can be very dangerous for both you and your baby. So, in this case, it's better to be safe than sorry.

 

To sum up, when you are pregnant, fish makes you keep your guard up. Avoiding it isn't smart, since it provides you with lots of benefits for you and your growing foetus, but at the same time you need to be cautious. There are many risks regarding fish in pregnancy, but at least now you know which ones and how to prevent them.