Yes you can!
One of the most common misconceptions I see in practice is the need to avoid seafood during pregnancy. Studies in Australia have shown that many women are unsure about the safety of fish consumption during pregnancy, with many not aware of the health benefits of fish consumption for their babies’ development.
It is true that some species of fish need to be consumed in moderation due to the high level of mercury content. However, most varieties of seafood contain very low amounts of mercury. Generally, the larger the species of fish the higher the mercury content and these need to be eaten in moderation during pregnancy.
Types of fish to limit or avoid:
The recommendations for pregnancy are to include 2-3 serves of fish per week, with 1 serve equaling 150g, or one medium fish fillet.
Types of fish and seafood safe to include:
Nutrition Benefits of fish and seafood:
Fish and seafood are our main dietary sources of omega-3’s, with meat and eggs also containing some omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential type of polyunsaturated fat; there are 3 types of omega-3 eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Omega-3’s are essential for babies brain and eye development whilst in utero and in the early years of life. Some multivitamins contain sources of omega 3, if you would like to check that you are getting enough omega-3 from your dietary intake and/or prenatal supplements, a dietitian will be able to check this for you.
The recommended amount of omega-3 for women is 90mg/day this increases to 115mg/day during pregnancy and 145mg/day for breastfeeding women. One of the highest dietary sources of omega-3 is salmon with 100g serving containing around 2100mg omega-3.
Fish and seafood is a high quality lean source of protein making a great addition to a balanced diet to assist with achieving healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
In pregnancy ready to eat seafood (for example cooked prawns from the deli), and raw seafood should be avoided. However freshly cooked fish and seafood are safe to eat.
Make sure all seafood is cooked to at least 63°C. Tinned tuna and salmon are also safe to eat during pregnancy, and are a convenient source of protein to have in your pantry.
Healthy ways to include more fish or seafood:
FSANZ Advice on fish consumption:
NSW Food Authority, Pregnancy foods to eat or avoid when pregnant.http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/foodsafetyandyou/life-events-and-food/pregnancy/foods-to-eat-or-avoid-when-pregnant
Sinikovic et. al. Women’s awareness of the importance of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption during pregnancy: knowledge of risks, benefits and information accessibility. Public health nutrition, 2009, Volume 12(4):562-569.
Emmett et. al. Expanding awareness of Docosahaxaenoic acid during pregnancy. Nutrients, 2013 Volume 5 (4):1098-1109.
Starling et. al. Fish intake during pregnancy and foetal neurodevelopment – A systematic review of the evidence. Nutrients, 2015 Volume 7 (3): 2001-2014
Oken et. al. Fish consumption and Docosahaxaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in pregnancy. Up to Date, 2018