Should you eat fish in pregnancy?

There’s often a lot of confusion about eating fish in pregnancy, and there’s definitely common misconceptions surrounding this.

Eating the right types of fish/seafood can contribute to a healthy pregnancy, and it’s recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat 8 to 12 ounces (that’s about two to three servings) of low-mercury fish every week (as per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)). Try and opt for the “wild or wild-caught” fish whenever possible rather than farmed, and always make sure it’s cooked, and never raw.

Did you know that there’s likely to be an increased need for essential Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy?

If you’re a fish lover, this is awesome news, but if you’re like me, and not a huge fan of eating fish (especially with morning sickness & food aversions…) this is not such great news!

Omega-3’s are important to take notice of in pregnancy, because they play such an important role in the growth and development of your baby, including the brain, eyes, and nervous system. There are different types available in food and supplements (and this is where it can become a little confusing).

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Omega-3’s you may have heard of-

ALA – found in nuts and seeds (not the greatest source during pregnancy – sorry to break this to my vegan mommas-to-be). Vegetarian sources of DHA are essentially limited to algae-derived DHA.

DHA and EPA – found only in animals & fish, and are a great source during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

If you’re not a fish lover (like me), then a quality fish oil supplement should be at the top of your list of purchases during your pregnancy AND postpartum to fill in nutritional gaps for you.

Look for at least 300mg of DHA, and make sure you have EPA in there too, as this helps transport DHA across the placenta.

When buying your fish oil supplements, check that they have a Natural Product Number (NPN) on the package. This means that these products are safe for pregnant women. The NPN number gives you the satisfaction that the product has been tested for heavy metals, pesticides and toxins.

DHA is particularly important for your baby’s brain and retina development during the third trimester, and up to 18 months of life.

Omega-3’s are also important throughout breastfeeding for both the development of your baby and also for a mothers health.

so, you’re probably thinking…

“What’s the deal with the fish that are not recommended during pregnancy?”

Methyl mercury is the concern for eating some fish in pregnancy, as this can accumulate from the surrounding water that the fish swim around in.

It’s recommended to AVOID the following fish, due to these being the highest in mercury levels –

  • Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico

  • Shark

  • Swordfish

  • Orange roughy

  • Bigeye tuna

  • Marlin

  • King mackerel

And here are some of the fish to limit to about 4 ounces a week –

  • Carp

  • Chilean sea bass

  • Grouper

  • Halibut

  • Monkfish

  • Snapper

  • Spanish mackerel

  • Striped bass (ocean)

  • Tilefish (Atlantic Ocean)

  • Tuna, albacore/ white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen Tuna, yellowfin

Here’s the good news! Some of the best fish /seafood to choose 2-3 servings a week include (Health Canada)-

  • Salmon

  • Trout (fresh water)

  • Herring

  • Pollock (Boston bluefish)

  • Sole

  • Flounder

  • Anchovy

  • Char

  • Hake

  • Mullet

  • Smelt

  • Atlantic mackerel

  • Lake white fish

(If you’re eating fish from local lakes and waters, check with your local advisories).

If you have any questions regarding fish in pregnancy, or any other concerns you would like to discuss, book your “Ask Vivienne Session”. 

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