You’re fresh from the excitement of a BFP—and then it dawns on you. There are going to have to be some changes around here. The questions start firing: How much exercise can you do? What color should you paint the baby’s room? And (gasp) can pregnant women eat sushi?
Sushi addicts, listen up. While there are some don’ts when it comes to sushi during pregnancy, there are also some easy workarounds. Ready? Let’s get into it.
Sushi while pregnant: the 411
What if I ate raw fish while pregnant?
The reason sushi is on the blacklist for pregnant women is that a key ingredient is raw fish. The FDA is pretty clear on this one. When you’re pregnant, you should only eat fish, meat and poultry that has been cooked. The reason? You may not be protected from microorganisms that might make you and your baby sick.
When you’re pregnant, your immune system is not at its peak, so you’re more vulnerable to infections that can harm you and your baby. While it’s a good idea to avoid raw fish at all stages of pregnancy, it’s particularly important in the first trimester. That’s because this is when all your baby’s major systems are forming.
Bacterial infections such as listeriosis can be passed to your baby and can lead to preterm labor and pregnancy loss. Bacterial infections may also cause lifelong health complications in the brain, kidneys and heart.
On top of that, fish parasites such as anisakiasis are, as this study suggests, a growing concern for pregnant women. They can also impact the health of you and your baby, possibly leading to anemia, lowered immunity and preterm delivery.
(We know, all this can be a lot to take in. If you’ve had a nibble of raw something before reading this and are freaking out, don’t stress. 💙 Just watch for symptoms. If you think that you have a food-borne illness—some signs include diarrhea, vomiting, flu-like symptoms—get to your doctor for a checkup.)
But there is more to sushi than raw fish.
Can you eat sushi with cooked fish while pregnant?
Yes, you can. Cooked fish can be a great addition to a pregnancy diet because it contains all sorts of nutrients that are beneficial to both you and your baby.
The CDC recommends including about eight to 12 ounces of cooked fish in your diet per week. It’s a great source of:
- Omega-3s, which help your baby’s brain development
- Protein, which forms the building blocks of your baby’s tissue and organs
- Vitamin B12, which is great for the development of the spinal and nervous system
- Vitamin D, which may help to prevent preeclampsia, low birthweight and preterm birth
- Iron, which plays a huge part in getting oxygen to your baby
- Zinc, which helps with brain development.
Yep, all-in-all, fish is more than welcome on the pregnancy menu.
There are some fish that it’s worth avoiding because of their high mercury content. These include swordfish, king mackerel, and shark. Mercury can get into your bloodstream and impact the development of your baby’s nervous system and brain. (Again, don’t stress if you’ve had a bit of one of the fish on the no-go list. Just don’t make it a staple in your diet.)
Can I make my own sushi when pregnant?
This is a contentious issue. Some argue that if you make your own sushi or buy it from a reputable establishment, it’s safe to go ahead and eat raw fish. But most doctors will recommend that even if you trust the source, it’s probably best to steer clear completely. (Why risk it?)
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make and eat vegetarian sushi or sushi made from cooked fish. The other ingredients in sushi (vegetables, rice, ginger, and even small bits of wasabi) are all safe to consume. (Pro tip: stick to red and green seaweed rather than brown seaweed. The reason? Brown seaweed has a high iodine content which can affect thyroid functioning.)
So, bottom line:
Can you eat sushi when pregnant? Not a good idea if it contains raw fish.
Can pregnant women eat cooked sushi? Usually fine and, in fact, maybe even recommended.
More on pregnancy foods:
Can You Eat Oysters While Pregnant?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Salmon?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Lobster?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Tuna?
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?
Can You Eat Seafood While Pregnant?