Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp?

Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp?

Can pregnant women eat shrimp?

Good question.

As the old advice goes, seafood and pregnancy aren’t the best of friends.

In fact, many mamas will tell you that seafood – and, for some reason, often particularly shrimp is one of the crucial foods to avoid during pregnancy. But is it true?

The whole idea boils down to that stuff called mercury.

It’s thought that mercury can harm your little peanut in the womb.

This bit’s definitely true – as mercury is not a great ingredient in your dinners at the best of times.

But you’d have to eat a lot of shrimp while pregnant to give you harmful levels of the chemical.

So, can pregnant women eat shrimp?

Or, thinking bigger, can you eat seafood while pregnant at all?

In this article: 📝

  • Can you eat seafood while pregnant?
  • Is shrimp bad for pregnancy?
  • Is shrimp good for pregnancy?
  • Shrimp while pregnant FAQs
  • So, can pregnant women eat shrimp?

Can you eat seafood while pregnant?

Many women steer well clear of all seafood while pregnant. And that’s fair enough.

Some seafood is known for being high in mercury – a chemical that can (in large enough quantities) cause problems for your little one’s immune system, such as developmental abnormalities and cerebral palsy.

Found naturally in the atmosphere, it collects in rivers and streams and ends up in the ocean, where fish absorb it. And it can end up on your plate.

Better safe than sorry, as the old wise woman says.

But, the reality is that not all seafood has the same high levels of the stuff.

And, meanwhile, most healthcare organizations – including the UK’s NHS and the US Food and Drug Administration – actually say that most kinds of seafood are great for you and your baby.

Watch out though.

It’s all about researching to see which fish are a-okay and which are on your list of foods to avoid.

What seafood to avoid when pregnant?

Let’s start with what not to eat.

When it comes to eating seafood while pregnant, these are the big ones to avoid.

And, generally, the bigger the fish, the better avoided – as this is where more of that mercury ends up.

As a result, you should probably steer clear of shark, swordfish, and marlin.

We need to add raw shellfish to the list of seafood while pregnant to avoid.

Although this isn’t about the mercury.

Uncooked shellfish can harbor all sorts of nasty bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning.

During pregnancy, your immune system is all up in the air, so you might not be best equipped to fight it off.

That will bother both you and your baby.

So, think twice before scoffing that sushi.

Does shrimp have mercury?

So now we know that mercury is pretty bad during pregnancy, how much mercury is in shrimp?

Along with catfish, salmon, pollock, and canned light tuna, shrimp has some of the lowest levels of mercury amongst all seafood.

So if you’re going to pick a seafood to eat while pregnant, shrimp is a great choice!

Is shrimp bad for pregnancy?

No, eating shrimp while pregnant isn’t inherently bad for you ‒ but, just like any other food while pregnant (or ever), it’s all about moderation.

There are just a couple of guidelines to follow when it comes to eating shrimp while pregnant to ensure you and baby stay safe and healthy:

Is shrimp good for pregnancy?

Actually, yes.

There’s a good reason that doctors and dieticians suggest that people include seafood in their diets.

And these benefits don’t disappear just because you are pregnant.

Seafood (particularly oily fish) like shrimp are a great source of omega-3, which has been found to help fight depression and boost brain health of babies while they’re in the womb.

Eating shrimp while pregnant is fantastic for getting your necessary protein, which is fundamental for baby’s development, and making sure you have the energy you need during pregnancy.

It’s also packed full of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.

And these do wonders for your overall health – and those of your child.

Seafood you can eat while pregnant

So, what seafood can you eat while pregnant?

Mercury levels remain low in the following:

  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Plaice
  • Coley
  • Skate
  • Hake

Every other type of fish you should consider limiting.

While they are not the big names of the high-mercury fish world, there is still mercury in many kinds of seafood. And other bad things.

When it comes to seafood and pregnancy, the official health advice is to keep the following to two portions a week max when pregnant:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Halibut
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Crawfish
  • Langoustines
  • Sea bream
  • Sea bass

These can have other pollutants in them.

While not really harmful pre-pregnancy, when you’re expecting you’re less able to fight things off.

Whatever you decide to eat, make sure it’s cooked properly.

Food poisoning from fish is grim at the best of times.

With a baby in your belly, it can be particularly nasty.


Shrimp while pregnant FAQs

Now we know a bit more about seafood and pregnancy, how about some more specifics on eating shrimp while pregnant:

Is cooked shrimp safe for pregnancy?

Yes, cooked shrimp is safe to eat while pregnant.

However, you should limit the amount of cooked shrimp while pregnant to around two or three portions per week.

This isn’t due to the mercury levels in shrimp (which are low), but instead due to other pollutants that might be hiding in your shrimp.

Can you eat cooked shrimp cold?

Yes, you can eat cooked shrimp served cold while pregnant.

But you need to make sure the shrimp has been stored safely, not contaminated with raw seafood (or raw meats), and that it hasn’t gone off.

If you’re planning to eat cooked, cold shrimp while pregnant, it’s best to refrigerate the shrimp as soon as it’s cooled from cooking ‒ anything later than two hours after cooking could have started to turn.

Can you eat a shrimp cocktail while pregnant?

Yes, you can eat shrimp cocktail while pregnant ‒ cooked, cold shrimp is safe to eat when pregnant.

You’ll just need to make sure the shrimp isn’t past its ‘best before’ date, has been refrigerated and stored correctly, and hasn’t been by raw seafood or meat.

Can you eat popcorn shrimp while pregnant?

What about fried shrimp while pregnant, like popcorn shrimp?

While popcorn shrimp is safe to eat while pregnant, it’s best to limit it to just one portion per week ‒ not because of any traces of mercury or other seafood pollutants, but because of the high levels of saturated fat.

So, yes, you can eat popcorn shrimp while pregnant ‒ in moderation.

Can you eat boiled shrimp while pregnant?

Yes, you can eat boiled shrimp while pregnant ‒ it’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to prepare shrimp.

You just need to make sure the shrimp is cooked thoroughly.

Generally speaking, around 2-3 minutes for smaller shrimp and about 5 minutes for larger shrimp should be safe.

You’ll know when it’s safe to eat shrimp while pregnant because their flesh will turn from see-through to opaque.

Can I eat seafood boil while pregnant?

Yes, you can enjoy a seafood boil while pregnant, but you need to know exactly what’s in it.

Usually, seafood boils contain things like crawfish, crab, oysters, clams, and, of course, shrimp.

All of these are safe to eat while pregnant as long as they’re thoroughly cooked.

Can you eat raw shrimp while pregnant?

No, you can’t eat raw shrimp while pregnant.

Eating raw shrimp while pregnant can result in food poisoning, which can lead to pregnancy complications, and, in worst cases, pregnancy loss.

It’s best to avoid all raw seafood and shellfish completely while pregnant.

I accidentally ate raw shrimp while pregnant, what do I do next?

First, try not to panic.

It depends on how much raw shrimp you’ve eaten and how you’re feeling.

If you think you have food poisoning, visit your doctor as soon as possible, to see how they can alleviate your symptoms and check on baby.

Can shrimp make you sick while pregnant?

If you’re eating cooked shrimp while pregnant, it shouldn’t make you sick.

However, raw or undercooked shrimp can cause food poisoning, which can be bad for both you and baby, so as long as your shrimp is cooked (and you don’t have any known allergies to shellfish), you shouldn’t get sick from eating shrimp while pregnant.


Can you eat shrimp while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can eat shrimp while breastfeeding, but it’s best to limit your seafood to two or three portions per week.

Seafoods that are high in mercury, like swordfish, orange roughy, and shark, should be avoided while breastfeeding, just as they should be avoided while pregnant.

How many pounds of shrimp can I eat while pregnant?

Just how much shrimp can I eat while pregnant?

Generally speaking, two or three portions of shrimp per week is the maximum when it comes to eating shrimp while pregnant.

How much is a serving of shrimp?

A standard serving of shrimp is around 3 ounces ‒ approximately 12 small shrimp or 18 large shrimp.

Can you eat the tail of a shrimp?

Are you supposed to eat shrimp tails?

It’s totally up to you. Eating shrimp tails while pregnant won’t cause you any harm, but if you’re eating boiled shrimp while pregnant, the tail might not taste all that nice.

But if you’re eating fried shrimp while pregnant, the tails can be the tastiest bit.

Can you eat shrimp legs?

Yes, you can eat shrimp legs while pregnant.

But, just like shrimp tails, the legs might not taste great if they’re boiled.

If you’re chowing down on fried shrimp, feel free to eat those shrimp legs!

Is shrimp poop safe to eat?

If you’re preparing fresh shrimp, you might notice a dark vein running down the shrimp’s back ‒ this is their digestive tract.

Basically, it’s where they store shrimp poop.

But what happens if you eat shrimp poop?

Well, it’s not going to cause you any harm, but it might taste a little grittier.

Is shrimp poop bad for you? Nope ‒ but whether you ‘de-vein’ the shrimp (pulling out the dark vein of their digestive tract) is totally down to personal preference.

So, can pregnant women eat shrimp?

Absolutely! Just don’t go too wild.

It’s best if you don’t eat more than two portions of shellfish a week when expecting.

However, you may well feel more comfortable avoiding eating shrimp when pregnant entirely.

Many mamas do – and that’s okay.

🦐 More on pregnancy foods:
Can Pregnant Women Eat Crawfish?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Ceviche?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Calamari?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Mussels?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Scallops?
14 Scrummy Foods to Eat While Pregnant
What to Eat When Pregnant
Pregnancy Snacks: Healthy Hacks for Pregnancy Cravings
Can You Eat Spicy Food While Pregnant?
Can You Eat Cherries While Pregnant?
Can You Eat Seaweed While Pregnant?


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