When you’re pregnant, there are a few foods you need to avoid or limit. Fish can be a great part of healthy eating during pregnancy, but it’s important to eat the right kinds of fish in the right amounts. Let’s break it down — here are a few things you need to know about eating fish during pregnancy.
What can you do to get the health benefits of fish during pregnancy in a safe way?
You have probably heard that fish has a lot of health benefits. Studies suggest that eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Healthy fats in fish also help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. These healthy fats are called omega- 3 fatty acids.
During pregnancy, eat fish that is low in mercury. Mercury is a metal that can be dangerous. Fish get mercury from the water they swim in and from eating other fish. Fish that are low in mercury include:
How much fish is safe to eat each week?
During pregnancy, eat 8 to 12 ounces a week of fish that doesn’t have a lot of mercury. If your portions are small, you can eat fish three times a week, but only two times a week if your portions are bigger. Here are some examples:
Your menu for eating fish three times a week could look like this:
- 4 ounces of salmon
- 4 ounces of light tuna (a small can, drained)
- 2 ounces of shrimp (about seven medium-sized shrimp)
Your menu for eating two times a week could look like this:
- 6 ounces of tilapia
- 3 ounces of crab cake
Practical tip: To measure your portion size, hover your hand on top of the piece of fish. A four-ounce piece of fish should be about the same size as the palm of your hand.
Some types of fish are not as low in mercury as other types. It’s OK to eat up to 6 ounces of these fish each week during pregnancy:
- Albacore (white) tuna
What type of fish do you need to avoid during pregnancy?
Don’t eat fish that are high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Always check with your local health department before you eat any fish you catch yourself. Avoid undercooked or raw fish, like sushi, raw oyster and tuna tartare.
For more information about eating healthy during pregnancy visit marchofdimes.org