Sounds Fishy!

There’s a lot of advice out there about eating fish while you’re pregnant. Some of it can be confusing. Some of it seems contradictory. Some of it is a little scary. So, how do you know the difference between a good catch and something you should throw back in the freezer until after the baby’s born?

First of all, it’s important to know that you absolutely should eat fish. Fish, especially those kinds which are rich in fatty acids and Omega-3, help your baby’s brain develop.

So, what’s the problem? Simply this: a lot of the fish that are high in Omega-3 are also high in mercury. Omega-3 is good for your baby (at least in the right doses). Mercury, not so much.

There are several ways mercury can negatively affect your baby. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the following areas are most likely to be negatively affected by high levels of mercury:

  • brain development
  • nervous system
  • cognitive reasoning and thinking
  • memory
  • language
  • spatial skills
  • fine motor skills
  • attention

Fish to Avoid

So, which fish should you lay off of? Basically, any kind of fish or shellfish which are known to carry high levels of mercury should be avoided. This includes shark, tilefish, mackerel, and swordfish. Check with your doctor regarding the most current information regarding which fish to eat and which to avoid, as this information could change.

Fresh Caught Fish

It would be beyond our scope to consider all of the possible fish you could catch with a rod and reel, net, trout line, or other angling methods. If you or your partner catch fresh fish, your best source of information will be your state’s fishing guide. Most states issue these when you purchase your fishing license. If you’ve lost yours, you can generally pick up another one free anywhere that fishing licenses are sold. Alternately, many states have the information online, usually on their official natural resources website.

Safe Amounts

The amount of fish that’s safe to eat really depends on the type of fish you’re eating. Generally speaking, it is recommended that you eat about six ounces of fish per week. That’s one large or two small servings of fish. As with anything else, ask your doctor or nutritionist regarding any variances to your particular situation.

photo by: James Bowe
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