Seafood During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

One of the first thoughts that came into my head when I found out I was pregnant was, ‘Oh, no, no sushi!’ Then for a moment I considered pretending that I hadn’t done the pregnancy test yet and going out for one last sushi feast before I embraced the blandness of the next 8 months or so. Of course, it was just a thought. Once you’ve seen the lines on that stick, it can’t be undone and if you’re seafood lover, it means that you’ll need to make some adjustments to your diet.

Raw fish and seafood are now off the menu. They can carry the listeria bacteria which can be very harmful for the baby. Smoked salmon and other ready-to-eat cold fish are also considered high risk for listeria.

The bacteria and viruses are killed by cooking, so if you choose to have shellfish and fish, only do it as part of a cooked meal. Eat your meal hot, not lukewarm! Another concern when it comes to fish is its high mercury content, which may harm an unborn baby’s developing nervous system. Fish with high mercury levels include Shark (Flake), Swordfish, Broadbill or Marlin. You can only have one serve (150g) of those fish per fortnight and no other fish that week.

Orange Roughy (Sea Perch) and Catfish also have relatively high mercury levels and you should have no more than one serve per week (and no other fish that week).  Fish with lower mercury levels that you can enjoy more regularly (2-3 times a week) are Snapper, Salmon, Trout, Whiting, Mullet, Garfish and Bream.

Don’t give up seafood altogether for fear of getting it wrong. Fish is rich in protein and minerals, and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the baby’s developing brain.
You can return to your normal diet as soon as you’ve given birth. In fact, guess what the first meal was that I asked my husband to bring for me to celebrate the birth. Sushi!

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By Tatiana Apostolova

Foods To Avoid When Pregnant

When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, it can be a bit daunting because there are so many things to bear in mind in order to keep you and your baby safe throughout your pregnancy. One of the most important things to be careful about is the types of food you’re eating. A lot of foods are unsuitable for pregnant women because they may harbour bacteria that can cause potentially life threatening infections.

So here are some foods that you should steer clear of when you’re expecting:

Raw eggs

Salmonella can be found in raw eggs so ensure that you eat only well-cooked ones. Don’t forget that many foods contain raw egg including some types of mayonnaise, hollandaise, Caesar salads and those tempting cookie batters that you make. Resist the urge to lick the spoon to reduce the risk of contracting salmonella.


Some types of fish including shark, orange roughy, swordfish, marlin and southern blue fin tuna contain high levels of mercury so pregnant women should avoid eating these types of fish to avoid neurological damage to the baby. It’s not known how much of these types of fish one would have to consume to cause damage to the baby’s nervous system, but to be safe avoid them completely. Raw shellfish should also be avoided because they can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning and listeria.

Raw or undercooked meat

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite found in meat (as well as in cat poo, soil and untreated water) so ensure that the meat you’re eating is cooked thoroughly and there is no trace of pink meat or blood. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat too.

Soft cheeses and pate

Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, feta, cottage, ricotta and blue should be avoided because they may contain the harmful bacteria Listeria. Any products made with unpasteurised milk as well as pate should also be avoided for the same reason. Although adults with listeria can show no symptoms it can cause major complications to the foetus.

Cold meats

You should avoid eating cold meats from the delicatessen including salami, ham, chorizo and pepperoni because there is a chance they could contain listeria. Be careful of ready-cooked chickens too – ensure they are steaming hot when you eat them, otherwise you may be at risk of contracting listeria.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables that have been in contact with sprays and soils can be harmful to your baby so ensure they are washed thoroughly before you eat them. Toxoplasmosis can be found in soil so don’t take any chances and wash thoroughly.


Too much caffeine in your diet can result in your baby being born with a low birth weight or there is even the chance of miscarriage. Limit your coffee intake to one per day but remember there are many other drinks that contain caffeine too, including tea, cola, energy drinks and even chocolate. If you can’t get by without coffee, try decaffeinated.

If you’re ever unsure about what you should and shouldn’t eat during pregnancy, don’t risk it – talk to your midwife of doctor.

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