According to doctors, pregnant women’s diet should be rich in fish, which is an excellent source of valuable nutritious elements, including omega 3 fatty acids, easily available proteins, iodine and vitamin D, which are indispensable not only for the woman (as they reduce the risk of hypertension), but also for the proper development of the baby’s brain and eyesight. It has been proved that psychomotor skills of children whose mother ate about 400 g of fish per week during their pregnancy developed faster than those of children whose mothers ate little or none fish.
However, for a few years it has been said that fish living in heavily polluted seas contain harmful heavy metals, including mercury, cadmium, lead, zinc and copper. Mercury, which can get into a pregnant woman’s organism together with polluted food, easily infiltrates the placenta. High mercury concentration may lead to foetal development disorders, affecting mainly the baby’s brain and nervous system.
However, it is strongly recommended not to avoid fish, but choose the right species and eat with moderation. The advantages of fish in pregnant women's diet are huge! Therefore, it is worthwhile to think how to compose a reasonable and safe fish diet dedicated for pregnant women.
In 2004, European Food Safety Authority adopted a recommendation of fish consumption. It is not advised to consume big carnivore fish (such as shark, swordfish, tuna and cero mackerel), which accumulate toxic substances by eating small fish and crustaceans. During the first three months of pregnancy women should not consume codfish liver oil. Experts also recommend not to eat raw fish, e.g. salmon tartare or sushi, as well as cold-smoked fish. These types of food may contain Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which are dangerous for the foetus.
As to raw seafood, its consumption may contribute to tapeworm infection. However, mums-to-be can, and even should, eat at least 2 portions (300-400 g) of safe fish (codfish, mackerel, sardines, salmon, European catfish, trout or flounder) per week. We recommend to steam fish or fry it in foil so that it does not lose its nutritious values and stays light and low in calories.