Pregnancy’s Fishy Waters | Seventh Generation
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Pregnancy’s Fishy Waters

Author: stefnew

Pregnancy's Fishy WatersI think it is safe to say that most pregnant women obsess about food. I know I did during my first two pregnancies, and now, as I head down the road to mommyhood for the third time, I can report that some things never change.

My youngest daughter is four and a half, so it's been a while since I had to remember what I should, may occasionally, and absolutely-under-no-circumstances, eat. I quickly gave up my nightly cup of tea, my morning cup of coffee (I'll have decaf every once in a while) , and my sushi. I became super-aware of the amount of water I drink. I also went right back into my first trimester staple foods -- ginger ale, saltines, mashed potatoes, and gummy bears (not exactly the healthiest food, but they really help with my queasiness).

Most of it hasn’t been hard to give up, but oh do I miss my sushi. As compensation, I turned to cooked fish, and quickly realized I had jumped into waters that are tricky to navigate.

Fish is a natural source of protein, omega-3, and B-vitamins. Nutrients in fish can help with visual and brain development in babies, and have recently been linked to helping to alleviate allergies in children, as well boost IQ levels.

Fish, however, also contain varying levels of mercury, which can be harmful to both mother and child. Exposure to mercury can create hearing problems, brain damage, or damage to the nervous system of a developing fetus.

So whether it's your first or fifth pregnancy, it's worth the time to refresh yourself about safe fish to consume, and in what amounts and frequencies.

The Internet is full of information of this topic, some of it contradictory. Thankfully, during my first prenatal checkup with my OB, I was given a handy one-page reference guide. It features three columns, each with a happy cartoon fish at the top holding a placard that says:

Stay Away! (High Mercury Levels)
Orange Roughy

Once in a While! (Less Mercury Levels)
Canned tuna fish
Sea Trout

Go For It! (Minimal Mercury Levels)
Freshwater trout

I checked the list against recommendations on The American Pregnancy Association website, and found it to be consistent. The APA site also offers information on frequency of fish consumption, especially tuna fish. There's even a breakdown of chunk light tuna versus solid white albacore tuna.

You can never be too careful about anything when you're pregnant, right? Ask your doctor about what fish he or she recommends is best for you to eat on a regular basis. I've decided to stick to wild salmon and flounder, once a week, and canned tuna on occasion (usually when I give it to my kids). If you feel that you absolutely can't eat any fish, ask about taking a fish oil supplement.

Of course, moderation is key to eating all foods (except chocolate), so be aware of what you're eating, and how much. And don't forget to enjoy your food, fish and all!

Did you have any food issues during your pregnancy? Leave a comment -- it's always great to hear from other Nation members!

photo: ScottieT812


Markus picture
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appletiv picture
It's value enough a chance to renew yourself about secure seafood to eat, and in what quantities and wavelengths.
jlapage picture
I actually *loved* fish and seafood before I became pregnant, but could not stand the *smell* during my pregnancy. In fact, I *still* have this food aversion a year after giving birth to my son. I guess I am my mother's daughter after all (up until I became pregnant, she was the only one in the family who couldn't stand fish)! lol :-)
NoAdditives picture
While it's very important to know which types of fish and seafood are healthy to eat it's equally important to know which types are being fished sustainably. The Environmental Defense Fund has a comprehensive list here. GNC has a great prenatal pack that includes a DHA supplement. It comes from fish but has absolutely no mercury (some fish oils do). Weatherlight, LSW: I'm going to assume that neither one of you have children because I cannot imagine people being so blatantly rude an hypocritical. there is absolutely nothing wrong with people having children. It is not our country's fault that the world is overpopulated. If you want to berate people for having children why don't you go to Asia or the Middle East? They account for 4 billion of the world's population while North America has less than .5 billion. In this age of environmental awareness we owe it to the future to have a child or two if we can raise them to be responsible for the Earth and its inhabitants.
AndiePandie picture
To Weatherlight & LSW: You make a good point but with all the violent crimes and percentage of abortions its probably unnecessary to make. We're already doing a good job of slowly committing suicide as a race (as you obviously believe because we are also poisoning ourselves). If you feel so passionately against people having children then you might want to narrow your focus to the groups who don't care about raising healthy, disciplined & conscientious children, unlike the women responding to this post. That is what you should be angry at. At least these people care enough to try and raise them well versus those that just breed because they can't control themselves and care absolutely nothing for the environment. You're lack of tact and consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others should embarress you. Yes, make your point with conviction but there is no need to use language or be so blunt. The real issue is for people to be pro-life in every sense of the word: towards the environment, towards children, towards the poor & oppressed, etc. Back to the actual topic...I agree it is so critical to take in the minerals and good fats. I don't eat much meat so I decided to buy Cod Liver Oil from Garden of Life. It is high quality but not expensive with a lemon mint flavor to cover up the fish smell/taste. If you don't feel comfortable eating fish then this is what I suggest. I hope for a safe pregnancy for each of you. Babies are a precious gift!
Weatherlight picture
When people look at their inboxes to check out new product info, etc, and they see people patting themselves on the back for 1) breeding more humans 2) breeding intentionally (this isn't an accidental pregnancy, right?) and putting resources into pumping out one more baby instead of putting excess resources into helping babies, wildlife, etc that are already existing and suffering 3) paying other humans to torture and kill more wildlife and farmed sentient beings, using pregnancy and baby as an excuse 4) hurting themselves and their babies by stuffing them not only with various amounts of mercury, antibiotics, diseases, and pesticides, but saturated fat and cholesterol (yes, birds, fishes, etc have these, what a surprise), and acting like this is a great thing because plants fruits, plant seeds, etc don't exist and there is no other way to get nutrients... then why shouldn't they talk about these subjects (breeding, wildlife, etc) when they reply? Well, LSW, I can somewhat answer that question: Because you're wasting your own time. Perhaps 1 in 100 will even think about what you say. Others will always have the same kneejerk reaction and dismiss your words immediately. You can go talk to all your friends, family, acquaintances, go to "real life" events, go on all sorts of online communities, and if you try hard enough and find the right audience, you might save many lives...but most people don't have what it takes to keep doing that and be effective without burning out and becoming exhausted, depressed, and cynical. You'll be constantly faced with people on their high horses, calling you rude for saying the truth, as if what they aren't doing is far worse than simply "rude." They'll rationalize everything they do, and even try to put it in a good, saintly light. Obviously, if you're someone who criticizes the words and actions of good saints, something is wrong with YOU. Makes sense, right? So much QQing about "I posted my views for the public to see on the internet, and some people dared reply without agreeing with me" everywhere. Go to pretty much any site, blog, messageboard, etc.
LSW picture
Actually liz.galan it does. Why do you think the world is in such a state having to discuss "farmed" fish and antibiotic layden food? What has happened to the wild fish populations, and why? Our land, water, and air usuage and the waste of those resources has affected all species of plants and animals and has led to the destruction and extinction of hundreds of species of plants and other animals. Yes people, humans are animals too but differ from other species by overbreeding and overconsumption of resources and, having no limits on their reproduction or ability to regulate their own species, they are ultimately responsible for the death of other species.
VM picture
I wish I had heard about the American Pregnancy Association when I was pregnant. There is so much varying information out there. You need to be well informed and find a really good ob/gyn that you trust. I would also love to see an article on the effects of alcohol during pregnancy. I thought everyone knew and agreed that alcohol is bad for the fetus but that is not always the case. A woman I used to work and I were pregnant at the same time. One day she told me, "I can't wait until I'm six months pregnant so that I can have a beer." When I questioned her about that, she said it was "her rule" that she can have beer on the weekends once she reaches the six month mark. (This was her second pregnancy.) I was horrified!
liz.galan picture
To LSW. Your comment is rude and adds nothing of value to the discussion about fish.
LSW picture
And you thought that adding to the overwhelming population that the planet has now and cannot support helps how?
meggiejean picture
Thank you for writing this. I just want to mention that Tilapia is almost ALWAYS farmed fish and while the levels of mercury may be low, the levels of antibiotics are likely to be high. In my opinion, pregnant women should stay away from this fish and all other farmed fish for that matter.
stefnew picture
Thanks for your comments! mom2irishdevils, you're right about raising the issue of wild-caught versus farm-raised fish, which I forgot to mention in the article. You should definitely ask (if the info is not available at your market) about where the fish you might buy actually comes from. This will prevent eating food you definitely don't need to give to yourself or your baby!
mom2irishdevils picture
I have one issue with the article in terms of nutritional value to the baby and mother and that is that the quality of the fish you eat should be just as scrutinized as the kind of fish you eat. Eating farm raised tilapia and salmon is about as nutritionaly void as microwaving a bowl of broccoli(meaning most everything healthy about it is gone). Through inferior diets and artificial coloring (with salmon) fisheries are creating very poor versions of a once incredibly healthy food. Always try and find wild-caught to ensure what you are eating is worth the price you are paying as well as the calories you are consuming.
safemama picture
I just wanted to chime in because I just had my second child 2 months ago and during this pregnancy my OB recommended not eating ANY fish at all. (Which wasn't the case with my first... I had the ok to eat the safe fish list moderately) It was even included in their standard New Pregnancy information hand out. I think there are some regional precautions being taken now, because when I asked her about it she said there is too much mercury in the water. (I live in South Florida) Some of my pregnant friends didn't get this same advice from their OB's in different parts of the country so I don't know how strict it is.