One common misconception that arises during pregnancy is how much and how often seafood should be eaten. Unfortunately, misinformation perpetuates, despite decades of research supporting the benefits of consuming nutrient-rich seafood during pregnancy.
The good news for seafood-loving mothers-to-be is that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines encourage women who are pregnant to eat at least two servings (about 8-12 oz.) of seafood per week. If you’re expecting or planning to get pregnant soon, here are some tips we shared with RadioMD on seafood during pregnancy, plus a few delicious recipes.
Benefits of Eating Seafood for Moms-to-Be and Baby:
- Good for mom’s and baby’s brains. We know seafood is good for mom’s brain as she ages, but did you know that fish is also good for her baby’s brain? Seafood is the premier dietary source of the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA. DHA comprises more than half of a baby’s developing brain. DHA is so critical for brain development that a recent study showed that babies born to women who ate seafood 2-3 times during their pregnancy reached important milestones—like drinking from a cup and recognizing faces—more quickly than children born to women who did not regularly consume fish while pregnant.
- Boosts eye development. It’s not only baby’s brain that needs DHA. Baby’s developing eyes need DHA, too. In fact, baby’s retinas are also mostly comprised of DHA. Research suggests…
- Reduces the risk of postnatal depression. Unfortunately, many mothers experience the “baby blues.” Not only does this negatively impact the new mom, but it can also hinder essential bonding between new mom and baby. According to recent research, eating omega 3-rich seafood can help reduce the risk of postnatal depression.”
Tips on Eating More Seafood While Pregnant:
- Opt for frozen, fresh or canned seafood. It doesn’t matter where in the grocery store you choose to purchase your seafood, each variety will still contain key nutrients. Frozen and canned seafood make stocking your kitchen for future omega 3-rich meals easy.
- Eat your favorite seafood more often. Popular fish and shellfish like shrimp, canned tuna, salmon and tilapia are all safe, healthy choices. In fact, there are only a few, rarely-eaten fish – shark, swordfish, tilefish, orange roughy, marlin and bigeye tuna (found in sushi) – you need to avoid while pregnant or breastfeeding. All other commercially-sold seafood is safe for you to enjoy while pregnant and breastfeeding.
- Make a seafood snack. A simple way to get in a serving of seafood with little to no prep is to top crackers or veggies with canned tuna or salmon. If you have a few extra ingredients, you can mix up a dip or put together a satisfying sandwich, for a more-filling option. Or, if you’re craving something sweet and savory, try adding some halved grapes or apple chunks with pouched tuna or salmon.
Looking for recipe inspiration? Here are a few seafood recipes for you to get started: