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Shrimp During Breastfeeding – Is It Safe To Eat?

4 min read

What we all know is seafood is a great source of protein and omega 3 and that it is good for the baby’s brain and body development. But do we also know that there are only some seafood items on the menu which are safe to eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding while others are considered unsafe because they contain high levels of methyl-mercury? That is true, and even though you do not care about sea food, it is a great addition to your plate to aid your baby’s development. Well, in this article we will let you know if eating shrimp is considered safe.
Woman eating shrimp

  • Is Shrimp A Safe Food While Breastfeeding?
  • What Are The Benefits Of Eating Seafood When Breastfeeding?
  • Seafood That Should Be Avoided During Breastfeeding
  • Is It Safe To Eat Shellfish During Breastfeeding If Allergies Run In My Family?
  • Precautions When You Eat Seafood During Breastfeeding

Is Shrimp A Safe Food While Breastfeeding?

Fish and shellfish make an important part of a healthy diet. Seafood contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) and these are crucial for the baby’s eye and nervous system development. Fish are rich in protein and vitamin D and low in saturated fat. However, some fish contain high levels of methyl-mercury. Methyl-mercury is a contaminant that is found everywhere – even in water through the industrial waste. Fish and other sea plants and animals absorb this contaminant through the water they swim in. Almost all fish and shellfish contain some amount of mercury, but the large predator fish absorb the most. As the mercury can pass over to the baby through breast-milk, excessive amounts of it can pose a risk to the baby. Methyl-mercury is a neurotoxin which can affect your baby’s developing nervous system.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Seafood When Breastfeeding?

All fish and shell fish are loaded with protein and omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) and they promote heart health and support immune system.

  • Shrimp: Shrimp are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which is important for the proper development of baby’s brain and eye. They are also rich in protein and iron
  • Salmon: Salmon is low in saturated fat and high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin d and other crucial nutrients
  • Pollock: Amino acids are building blocks of the body. It supports your immune system and eating Pollock will provide you with sufficient amounts of amino acids
  • Tuna: Tuna is packed with vital nutrients which promotes heart health. They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein and it improves the immune system

Seafood That Should Be Avoided During Breastfeeding

Do not eat the below seafood items as they contain high levels of methyl-mercury:

  • Shark
  • King mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish

All foods that you eat usually get passed on to the baby within 6 hours, but some foods can take just an hour or 24 hours to get to your baby. So it is important to eat wise and eat safe.

Fish That Are Safe To Eat During Breastfeeding

On the other hand, some fish are low in mercury, which you can safely eat during breastfeeding. However, you need to limit the intake to 8 to 12 ounces, which roughly translates into approximately two servings per week. These are:

  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Canned light tuna
  • Tilapia
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Pollock

So you can eat shrimp during breastfeeding, but eat only about 12 ounces each week.
Eating shrimp in breastfeeding

Is It Safe To Eat Shellfish During Breastfeeding If Allergies Run In My Family?

Allergies tend to run in families. Shellfish is among the most common food allergens. Do not eat it if shellfish allergy or any other food allergy runs in your family. If either of the parents have a history of allergies, avoiding foods that are highly allergic would be wise. Even if you do not have food allergy it’s better to talk to your doctor before including it in your diet while nursing. If after eating shellfish, your baby gets symptoms of allergy like diarrhoea, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing then contact your child’s paediatrician immediately. Avoid eating shellfish if your baby shows any signs of allergy.

Precautions When You Eat Seafood During Breastfeeding

While you can eat fish and shellfish for its nutritional benefits, please keep in mind the below points as well:

  • Never eat raw seafood: Raw seafood can contain harmful bacteria and viruses which can cause food poisoning to you. It is unlikely to pass to your baby, but it is better to avoid illness during this time when you have to devote your time to the baby.
  • How to know if the fish is cooked properly:
    • Raw fish is translucent and it will turn opaque during cooking
    • You can check with the tip of a knife to cut the interior of the fish. It should be opaque and should be separated in flakes
    • Shrimps should always be cooked at temperatures of above 74° degrees so that bacteria and worms cannot survive at this temperature

While you are breastfeeding, do not take Shrimps and other sea foods as raw. Shrimps have some harmful bacteria which can be passed on to the baby causing harmful effects. Make sure they are well cooked and remember to eat within the suggested limits. However, do not completely stop eating seafood as you might miss on some vital nutrients. Omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the main building blocks of the brain. Studies have shown that it has positive effects on baby’s vision and neurological health

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