Safe Fish During Pregnancy: Good and Bad Seafood Options - Baby Chick
Subscribe Search

Safe Fish During Pregnancy: Good and Bad Seafood Options

Fish are necessary for a healthy pregnancy diet, but eating the wrong fish can be damaging. So, what are the safe fish during pregnancy?

Updated April 23, 2024

by Jessica Tzikas

Medically reviewed by Kristy Goodman

Obstetrician-Gynecologist Physician Assistant, MS, MPH, PA-C

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, you are bombarded with things you can’t do. From not being able to indulge in your daily double shot espresso to avoiding certain activities, it can be overwhelming to determine what you actually can do.

One of the biggest things pregnant women are concerned with is their diet. Doctors, friends, and the internet will tell you that you should avoid certain things, and their opinions often contradict.  One of the most significant contradictions about food often surrounds seafood. Seafood is good for you, and the vitamins in fish are needed for a healthy pregnancy. However, eating the wrong fish can cause long-term and scary effects. So, what are the safe fish during pregnancy?

The Big No’s

There are a lot of “iffy” opinions when it comes to fish. Can you eat tuna fish from a can? Can you have fried fish? While some doctors will tell you no, others will say go for it. Here are a few rules surrounding fish that mostly all doctors agree with:1

  • Avoid raw fish such as sushi, specifically tuna.
  • Completely avoid tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, shark, bigeye tuna, and orange roughy!
  • Limit your intake of higher mercury fish (that’s the canned albacore tuna we’re talking about!) to one serving (no more than 6 oz) a week.2
  • Always be sure the fish you are eating is from a reputable source. Although, even fast food can be okay. Their seafood is usually heavily cooked (aka fried) and made with low-mercury fish.

Safe Fish During Pregnancy

First of all, it’s important to note that fish is good for you! Throughout my pregnancy, whenever I ordered salmon for dinner or added a scoop of tuna salad to my lunch, people had something to say. And while I made sure I limited my scoop of tuna to a few times a month, it is not to say that you need to or even should avoid fish altogether. Here is the low down on the good fish you should incorporate into your diet:3

  • Salmon: Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 and a great addition to your diet. Add it to your salad, grill it at home with a side of veggies, or make a homemade salmon salad if you are craving something cold.
  • Shrimp is a great way to incorporate seafood into your diet, specifically in those early months when anything too fishy can send your senses overboard. Add shrimp to a pasta dish or order it as an appetizer for added nutrients.
  • Tilapia: Another great fish to eat is tilapia. Found on mostly all restaurant menus (and often what fish sandwiches are made with), tilapia is another good and mild option for those who may have an aversion to stronger fish such as salmon.

In addition to these, women should also look to consume black sea bass, catfish, cod, crawfish, flounder, scallops, herring, whitefish, and Pollock.

The “Eh”

If you love albacore tuna or a nice grouper sandwich, you can still indulge in them! Just be sure to limit your servings to once per week. Other fish to limit include canned white tuna, halibut, mahi-mahi, Chilean sea bass, and snapper.3

Overall, fish is a great source of protein when you are pregnant. Even more so, doctors have said that women who eat fish throughout their pregnancy often have babies who experience milestones early or right on time.4 This means that a healthy serving of salmon each week could mean your child can hold their head, crawl, drink their sippy cup, walk, or have a better sense of their family members early on.

If you are ever concerned with the way fish, or any food, is handled and served, never be afraid to return it to the kitchen or refuse to eat it. While it may leave you feeling uncomfortable for a moment, improperly handled fish can lead to serious issues with your pregnancy and your baby. Always advocate for yourself. Make wise decisions before eating anything. But don’t be afraid to give in to your indulgences. Overall, talk to your doctor and breathe easy. You’d be surprised to find that most things are perfectly fine to consume!

View Sources +
Was this article helpful?
  • Author
  • Reviewer

Jessica is a writer and editor with a focus on all things lifestyle. Whether she is discovering the latest restaurants, staying up-to-date on new styles, helping brides plan their wedding,… Read more

You might also like
Subscribe to our newsletter