Pregnancy comes with a long list of dos and don’ts, including which foods are safe to eat and which fall into the “best to avoid” category. Unfortunately, the good stuff like coffee, a full-bodied pinot, a brie-smeared baguette loaded with slices of turkey, etc. are often prohibited.
But what about the sushi? As tasty as it is, eating sushi while pregnant has been a hot topic of discussion for years (a quick scroll through Reddit is enough to make anyone’s head spin). Some people believe sushi is a definite no-no during pregnancy, while others argue it can be safe if precautions are taken.
With so many rules and varied opinions crowding the mom blogging sphere, it’s hard to know what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to prenatal food and nutrition. So, we did some digging and hit up the experts to get the scoop on whether or not you can eat sushi while pregnant. Here’s what we found out.
Can you eat sushi when pregnant ?
The short answer is no, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! Pregnant people should avoid raw sushi, but many cooked sushi options are safe to eat.
“Pregnant people should avoid all raw or undercooked fish,” says Amy Roskin, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and Seven Starling’s chief medical officer. “The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends it due to the increased risk of bacteria and parasites in raw fish. However, you can stick to types of sushi in which the fish components are cooked.”
In other words, if it’s vegan, vegetarian, or fully cooked, you shouldn’t have a problem. However, some types of fish, including swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark, contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided entirely, whether cooked or not.
Is sushi safe for pregnancy during the first trimester?
Sushi made from raw or undercooked fish should be avoided during any trimester of pregnancy. This is because raw or undercooked fish can contain harmful bacteria or parasites, such as listeria, which can lead to serious complications for the pregnant woman and developing fetus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant people are 10 times more likely than non-pregnant people to get a listeria infection. If a pregnant person gets infected with listeria while pregnant, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and other health problems for the baby.
“Maternal listeria infection during pregnancy is often mild, but fetal infection is associated with a high 25 to 35 percent mortality rate,” explains Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, a poison control physician and toxicologist. . “To avoid getting foodborne illnesses like listeria, pregnant women should avoid eating raw fish, including sushi, sashimi and shellfish.”
What sushi can you eat when pregnant?
While raw sushi is a no-go, pregnant people can still enjoy a variety of safe and delicious sushi options. Cooked sushi rolls, such as California rolls and vegetable rolls, offer a safer alternative for pregnant people who crave sushi. However, it’s important to be aware of the mercury content in fish when making sushi choices.
The Food and Drug Administration provides a list of “top picks” of fish that are safe to eat during early pregnancy, including salmon, flounder and herring.
If you’re unsure about the safety of a specific dish, it’s best to err on the side of caution until you can consult a healthcare professional.
How about eating sushi while breastfeeding?
If you’re a true sushi lover, chances are you’ll be craving your favorite order postpartum. But is it really safe to go back to eating sushi if you’re breastfeeding? It generally is. But the same concerns apply when it comes to mercury consumption. “When a mother eats fish, the mercury in the fish can be passed into her breast milk. However, the benefits of breastfeeding may outweigh the possible adverse effects of mercury exposure through breast milk,” according to the Centers For Disease Control Prevention.
You can consult fish consumption guidelines for pregnant and nursing mothers from the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to determine which type of fish is safer and how much to eat. And, of course, if you still have questions, contact your doctor to have them assess your situation.
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