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Safe Fish During Pregnancy: Good & Bad Seafood Options

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, you are bombarded with things you can’t do—from not being able to indulge in your daily double shot espresso to having to avoid certain activities, it can be overwhelming to determine what you actually can do. One of the biggest things pregnant women are concerned with is diets. Doctors, friends and the internet will tell you that certain things should be avoided, and often, their opinions will contradict. One of the biggest contradictions about food often surrounds seafood. Seafood is good for you and the vitamins in fish are actually needed for a healthy pregnancy. However, eating the wrong fish can cause long-term and scary effects. So, what are the safe fish during pregnancy?

The Big No’s

There are a lot of “iffy” opinions when it comes to fish. Can you eat tuna fish from a can? Can you have fried fish? While some doctors will tell you no, others will say go for it. Here are a few rules surrounding fish that mostly all doctors agree with.

  • Try to avoid raw fish such as sushi, specifically tuna.
  • Completely avoid tilefish, mackerel, swordfish, marlin and shark!
  • Limit your intake of higher mercury fish (that’s the canned albacore tuna we’re talking about!) to one serving a week.
  • Always be sure the fish you are eating is from a reputable source. Although, even fast food can be okay. Their seafood is usually heavily cooked (aka fried) and made with a low-mercury fish.

Safe Fish During Pregnancy

First of all, it’s important to note that fish is good for you! Throughout my pregnancy, whenever I ordered salmon for dinner or added a scoop of tuna salad to my lunch, people had something to say. And while I made sure my scoop of tuna was limited to a few times a month, it is not to say that you need to, or even should, avoid fish altogether. Here is the low down on the good fish you should work to incorporate into your diet.

  • Salmon: salmon is a great source of omega-3 and a great addition to your diet. Add it to your salad, grill it at home with a side of veggies or make a homemade salmon salad if you are craving something cold.
  • Shrimp: shrimp is a great way to incorporate seafood into your diet, specifically in those early months when anything too fishy can send your senses overboard. Add shrimp to a pasta dish or order it as an appetizer for added nutrients.
  • Tilapia: Another great fish to eat is tilapia. Found on mostly all restaurant menus (and often what fish sandwiches are made with), tilapia is another good and mild option for those who may have an aversion to stronger fish such as salmon.

In addition to these, women should also look to consume black sea bass, catfish, cod, crawfish, flounder, scallops, herring, whitefish and Pollock.

The “Eh”

If you love albacore tuna or a nice grouper sandwich, you can still indulge in them! Just be sure to limit your servings to once per week. Other fish to limit include canned white tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, sea bass, and snapper.

Overall, fish is a great source of protein when you are pregnant. Even more so, doctors have said that women who eat fish throughout their pregnancy often have babies who experience milestones early or right on time. This means that a healthy serving of salmon each week could mean your child is able to hold their head, crawl, drink their sippy cup, walk, or have a better sense of their family members early on.

If you are ever concerned with the way fish, or any food, is handled and served, never be afraid to return it to the kitchen or refuse to eat it. While it may leave you feeling uncomfortable for a moment, improperly handled fish can lead to serious issues with your pregnancy and your baby. Always advocate for yourself. Make wise decisions before eating anything. But don’t be afraid to give into your indulgences. Overall, talk to your doctor and breathe easy. You’d be surprised to find that most things are perfectly fine to consume!

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