Pregnancy can be an overwhelming phase. You are naturally being molded to function on multiple levels – as an individual, a mother, perhaps a daughter and possibly a wife. You have to make your womb just as habitable as your home for the new member of the family. Entering this foreign territory for the first time is definitely scarier than being on a roller coaster ride.
As a pregnant woman, your dietary intake tends to change drastically, unless you are used to eating extremely healthy. And when there is so much to take care of, sometimes you may neglect an integral component of your daily meal – seafood. Eating fish during pregnancy is highly recommended.
Why is it good? Fish carries certain omega-3 fatty acids that are important for the baby’s brain development and growth in the initial few years. Those nutrients are rarely found in other edibles. Moreover, fish also contains vitamin D, protein and less saturated fat. “…in one large Danish study, children whose mothers ate the most fish during pregnancy (an average of 14 ounces a week) had better motor and cognitive skills at 6 months and at 18 months than those whose mothers ate little fish.
And those whose mothers ate the least fish had the lowest developmental scores.”(“Eating fish during,” 2016) Eating fish lowers the chances of preterm birth and low birth weight. Doctors suggest 8-12 ounces of seafood per week. This may prove to be a problem for individuals who are strictly vegetarians.
As long as being a vegetarian is not governed by health or cultural concerns, you should try to incorporate a good chunk of fish into your dietary plan during the pregnancy period. On the other hand, if you really cannot compromise, then make sure to find replacement dishes that fulfill your nutritional needs.
What to eat and what to avoid? Now that we’ve set that aside, you should be made aware of what kind of fish is the best and why you should not indulge in swordfish or bluefish. Fish, in general, has high levels of mercury which may affect the baby’s nervous system. It could lead to an impairment in the child’s cognitive abilities, motor skills, vision etc. So do your due diligence before eating any kind of seafood; ensure that it is low in methyl-mercury.
Salmon and sardines are said to be two of the best kinds as they contain very little mercury and have high levels of the good fats. As per an info graphic published by Purdue University, you can eat upto 6 ounces of these fish per week to make the most of it. What you need to avoid at all costs are swordfish, shark, bluefish, king mackerel.
Cook it right. Along with eating the right fish, you also need to take care that it is cooked properly. With seafood, there’s a variety of things you can do. Nevertheless, stick to the basics, because you know you can’t go wrong. Fish that has been caught locally needs to be approved by the respective environmental agency or healthcare system. They will guide you as to which fish is safe for consumption. Raw fish in the form of sushi isn’t always problematic but don’t go all out. When you head out for lunch or dinner, make sure to ask them what kind of fish goes in the sushi.
You know what to keep an eye out for. The issue with seared or smoked fish is that they may not have been cooked at the right temperature, so as to get rid of all parasites. Being pregnant is the ultimate form of being vulnerable. All your defences are down, and even the slightest mishap could make you susceptible to diseases.
There’s enough information on the internet to confuse any bewildered mother or mother-to-be. Don’t worry. Just remember the dos and don’ts of fish consumption during pregnancy and consult a doctor at every step of the way. But don’t let lack of awareness be the reason for depriving your child of the strength that fish provides. Every bit of the iron counts.