When you first find out you're pregnant, your doctor will likely give you a long list of dos and don’ts when it comes to your pregnancy. One of the subjects will be what food and drink you can or cannot consume. And, while some of the items on the list may seem a given (no alcohol!), there are some items that might surprise you: deli meat, some fish, runny eggs, etc.
With all of this in mind, you’re bound to come across some types of food that take a little extra thought —one of these food types is seafood. The FDA recommendations around seafood vary, so it’s important to keep them in mind, especially when it comes to those types of fish we see in a lot of restaurant dishes, or at get-togethers, like shrimp.
So, can pregnant women eat shrimp?
In short: yes. Pregnant women and their babies can benefit from the nutrients found in shrimp, as long as they are mindful of how much and how often they eat it.
According to Registered Dietician, and the expert that leads of our Introducing Solids 101 class, Vanessa Thornton, “Shrimp is high in protein and a great source of several key nutrients that women need more of during pregnancy. It contains omega-3 fatty acids which help with fetal brain and eye development and may help ward off postpartum depression or mood changes. It is also a good source of iodine and choline- two important nutrients for brain development that many pregnant women don't get enough of.”
The FDA says it’s safe for pregnant women to consume 2-3 servings (8-12 ounces) a week of shrimp. But, when it comes to other fish, be mindful, as they can have high mercury content, making them unsafe for pregnant women. According to the Mayo Clinic, too much mercury could harm your baby’s developing nervous system.
Shrimp specifically is low in mercury content, but a general rule to go by is that the bigger and older the fish is, the more mercury it will likely contain. For this reason, the FDA suggests pregnant women avoid fish like bigeye tuna, swordfish, and marlin, but recommend seafood like anchovies, salmon, and shrimp which are low in mercury, for pregnant women.
So if you’re eyeing that shrimp scampi at your next date night, go ahead and indulge. Just make sure to check the FDA recommendations when it comes to other types of seafood.
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