Mums to be are understandably concerned about what they eat - and there is a lot of conflicting advice- so we’re here to set the record straight on seafood.
Most fish should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet during pregnancy. In fact, medical professionals recommend that if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should be enjoying at least two servings of fish per week.
Packed with protein
Salmon, cod, trout, and haddock are all excellent sources of lean protein, which is beneficial for your baby’s growth, especially during the third trimester when the brain develops very quickly. Some studies have even shown that children whose mothers ate fish during pregnancy had a greater brain capacity than those whose mothers didn’t.
Oodles of omega-3
These fatty acids are beneficial in pregnancy because they stabilise the heartbeat, regulate mood and enhance memory. During the last trimester of pregnancy, your body starts to run out of its natural and healthy fats (DHA and EPA), which are used for the formation of the child's brain. Stocking up on omega-3 fatty acids can help children develop more brain capacity, better physical coordination and even social skills later in life. It can even help to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Full of vitamins
Vitamin A is very important for your general health during pregnancy, while vitamin D ensures the effective absorption of calcium in the body – both are abundant in fish.
Fish also contains iodine, which helps balance your hormones to create good energy levels and regulate the metabolism. A lack of iodine can lead to fatigue, lethargy, depression and thyroid enlargement.
How can I eat more fish during pregnancy?
Since fish is such an important source of nutrition, you could think about how to eat it as a snack or for lunch. You could make a delicious fish sandwich, smoked salmon bagels, mackerel in tomato sauce or a tasty salmon salad.
What are the best types of fish to choose?
Different types of fish contain varying amounts of important nutrients and the key to a healthy diet is to eat a mixture of both fatty and leaner fish.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel are good sources of marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
- Leaner fish, such as cod, contain more iodine. Just one portion of cod will cover your daily intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids.
Can I eat sushi during pregnancy?
Yes. The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has studied the effects of eating raw fish during pregnancy and concluded that pregnant women can safely eat sushi.
Sushi has become incredibly popular in recent years. The vast majority of sushi contains plenty of salmon, which is rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re preparing sushi yourself, you should freeze the fish first in order to eliminate any parasites if you are not sure of the origin, since farmed Norwegian salmon, farmed Fjord Trout and farmed halibut can be eaten raw without freezing the fish
Can I eat smoked salmon during pregnancy?
Yes. Salmon that has been smoked or preserved in brine can be eaten during pregnancy and it’s packed with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. The Norwegian authorities recommend you choose the freshest smoked salmon available.
I’m craving herring – is it safe to eat while pregnant?
Yes of course! If you’re craving a fresh herring sandwich it is advisable to freeze the fish first to eliminate any parasites.
Sources: Richardson and Montgomery: "The Oxford-Durham Study: A Randomized, Controlled Trial and Dietary Supplementation With Fatty Acids in Children With Development Coordination Disorder." Hibbeln: "Seafood consumption, the DHA content of mothers' milk and prevalence rates of postpartum depression: a cross-national ecological analysis". Åberg et al: "Fish intake of Swedish male adolescents is a predictor of cognitive performance." Hibbeln et al: "Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study". Report of the Norwegian National Council for Nutrition: "Dietary guidelines to Promote public health and prevent chronic illnesses in Norway - Methodology and scientific knowledge basis", Chapter 25: "Diet and prevention of neurodegenerative illnesses and mental health".