Dr Rahul Sen | Specialist care for birth and beyond | Sydney, Australia

Rooms : Edgecliff 02 9363 9474
Macquarie Street 02 9221 2600

Pregnancy nutrition eating seafood

Pregnancy nutrition – Eating seafood

Unless you are vegetarian, it’s ideal to have seafood feature in your diet regularly!  This may include white fish, pink/oily fish and shellfish such as prawns, lobster, bugs as well as scallops and mussels.

Seafood gives you a valuable source of protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc and especially iodine and omega-3 fatty acids.  The iodine and fatty acids are particularly important for your baby’s growing brain, which is actually made up of around 70% fat.  Studies are ongoing about the many important benefits both iodine and fatty acids may provide-especially surrounding neural development and future intellect.

Many women are confused about the guidelines for including seafood in their diet due to concerns regarding food safety.  The main issue is surrounding mercury, which is a heavy metal that can build up in the tissues of bigger fish when they eat the smaller fish.  In Australia however there are very few fish that present this concern.  Tinned fish is also considered safe, and often a very convenient way of getting your intake up!

Below is a table from our national Food Authority (FSANZ) that outlines the guidelines for you in pregnancy:

Safe levels of fish/seafood consumption in pregnancy (1 serve = 150g)

2-3 serves per week of any fish/ seafood (this includes canned fish) not listed below

OR

1 serve per week of Sea Perch (Orange Roughy) or Catfish AND no other fish that week

OR

1 serve per fortnight of Shark (Flake) or Swordfish/Broadbill/Marlin AND no other fish that fortnight

Keep in mind a small tin of salmon, sardines or tuna may only provide just over half of this serving size, so having tuna most days of the week as a lunch option is not a concern-though variety is always advised!

It is preferable to include seafood in your diet several times a week rather than taking fish oil supplements.

It is important that when you consume seafood in pregnancy that you ensure it is well cooked-that means no sashimi but also items such as chilled prawns (even though they are pre-cooked) should be avoided.  Hot prawns or shellfish are safe as part of a hot dish.  I advise women to avoid all oysters in pregnancy, just in case of hepatitis infection.

If you have further queries regarding your pregnancy nutrition please make an appointment to discuss further with Natasha, Dr Sen’s dietitian.