Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences in a woman’s life. It marks one’s journey to becoming a mother. Most women usually will know from the word go that they are pregnant if they are familiar with the earliest signs of pregnancy. That said, others may not know they are expecting until they miss their period a couple of months in a row. Knowing this, women have learned to observe the various signs and symptoms they could experience to indicate they are pregnant. One common sign that has been linked to pregnancy is craving fish. Despite this, the Doubting Thomas’s say fish craving is not a sign of pregnancy. So, we ask, is craving fish a sign of pregnancy?
Women who had these food urges and then tested positive after taking a pregnancy test will acknowledge it is a pregnancy sign. However, those who test negative highly refute it and declare this a myth. But what does science say about pregnancy and fish?
This read will explore the pregnancy and fish concept. We will begin by discussing whether or not a fish craving is an early sign of pregnancy. Similarly, we will discuss the healthy aspect of consuming fish in pregnancy. Let us get started!
Is Craving Fish An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?
It is that time of the month, and you just realized that you did not get your period. Anxious to take a test, you decide to first go through the early signs of pregnancy to rule out if you are experiencing them.
One of the signs that you come across is having an unquenchable desire for fish. It turns out for the last couple of days, you have been craving fish or seafood. Does this mean that you have a bun in the oven?
Well, based on this theory, it seems so. However, science argues otherwise. According to food experts, we all experience food cravings, regardless if we are pregnant or not (6). So, it is tricky trying to tie down one specific food urge to pregnancy.
Experts acknowledge that a more reliable sign indicating you might be expecting is a missed period (9). However, they also add that it can be misleading, especially if you normally have an irregular menstrual cycle.
It means that the most accurate way of telling if you are pregnant is getting a test. Do not rely so much on your home pregnancy test, even if it turns out positive. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to help confirm if you are indeed pregnant.
Read More: Is Raw Salmon Good For You?
Eating Fish When Pregnant: Is It Safe?
When a woman is expecting, there are several kinds of foods that they are advised to eat and not eat. One of the foods that finds itself on the hot plate of discussion about pregnancy is seafood.
Some women suggest it is unhealthy, while another percentage believes it is beneficial to the unborn baby. The differences in these beliefs have led to multiple debates on whether or not pregnant women should consume seafood. Let us break it down to specific kinds of seafood for a more in-depth understanding.
Crab is a type of seafood that gets a bad rap among pregnant women. The belief is that consuming crab during pregnancy may lead to adverse health effects. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) argues otherwise (1).
According to the FDA, consuming cooked crab while pregnant is a healthy food choice that comes with numerous health benefits (1). You get to acquire protein, healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin D and B-12, iron, and minerals like iodine, zinc, and selenium (1).
That said, it would be best if you took notice of the keyword, which is COOKED crab. At no point should a pregnant woman consume raw or undercooked crab. That only increases your risk of food poisoning, which can be dangerous during pregnancy (4). Please note, always settle for cooked crab.
Can a pregnant woman eat imitation crab? This is another question asked when it comes to crab consumption when pregnant. Imitation crab is cooked. As we have seen from above, food experts advise pregnant women to consume only cooked crab. It means that you have the go-ahead to consume imitation crab. Nonetheless, it does not hurt to consult with a healthcare provider before adding this food to your diet plan.
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There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of pregnant women out there who either avoid or consume the wrong kind of fish. Believe it or not, you need to avoid specific types of fish during your pregnancy because of their high mercury content.
According to Medical News Today, pregnant and breastfeeding women need to focus on a diet lower in mercury (4). Too much mercury in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream could cause damage to the developing baby’s nervous and brain system (8).
This means that special precautions have to be taken by any pregnant woman when incorporating fish into their meal plan. The problem is that most women are not familiar with the types of fish containing high mercury levels.
According to the FDA, the fish choices to avoid due to their high mercury content include king mackerel, tilefish, marlin, shark, swordfish, tuna, bigeye, and orange roughy (1).The best choices to safely have 2 to 3 servings weekly include shrimp, tilapia, crawfish, crab, haddock, cod, catfish, salmon, trout, and tuna (1).
The FDA suggests you have the following in one serving a week: bluefish, monkfish, snapper, grouper, carp, halibut, striped bass, sheepshead, rockfish, and sablefish (1). It would help if you sat down with your nutritionist to identify more on the bad, good, and best fish choices during pregnancy.
Sushi is a big no for pregnant women. It is considered a problematic food among women who are expecting because it is prepared using raw fish. As we have all gathered by now, raw fish is not a staple or a recommended food in a pregnant woman’s diet plan.
If you are pregnant and craving sushi, Medical News Today recommends having small balls of sticky rice and vegetables without fish (2). They will trick your taste buds and help satisfy your sushi craving. At no point should you eat sushi, no matter how strong your sushi urge gets.
It may be hard to stay away from raw oysters after getting pregnant, especially if they are among your favorite foods. However, you will have to try and keep away from them because they are not recommended for women who are expecting.
Eating raw oysters increases your susceptibility to bacterial contamination (7). According to WebMD, raw oysters contain a bacterium known as Vibrio vulnificus, which has been linked to severe illnesses and fatalities (7).
Typically, you cannot tell if something is wrong only minutes after eating raw oysters. Severe symptoms only begin to show up a day or two after having the raw oysters. Some of the symptoms you may experience include vomiting, shock, diarrhea, chills, fever, and nausea (7).
The impact is more profound for pregnant women and individuals with cancer, liver disease, and diabetes (7). With this in mind, try as much as possible to stay away from raw oysters during your pregnancy. Be very cautious too with cooked or steamed oysters, especially when dining out, because chances of them being undercooked are also very high.
Nonetheless, the CDC advises pregnant women to avoid oyster consumption entirely because they can also be harvested from contaminated waters (3). Such oysters may contain norovirus, which is harmful to you and your growing baby (3).
Clams are among the specific types of shellfish that a pregnant woman may end up craving. As we all know, we cannot dictate the kinds of cravings we have in our pregnancy, but we can certainly control them.
This means that you do not have to give in to raw clams cravings no matter how strong these food urges are. There is a good reason why you should do this. Remember that experts do not pass the consumption of raw or undercooked food during pregnancy.
So, instead of consuming raw clams, try having them when cooked. The only way you can tell that your clams are adequately cooked is when their shells open (5). Again, be cautious when you are eating clams prepared by someone else. There is always a chance of the clams being undercooked.
Pregnant women also need to stay away from sashimi. It is because sashimi is prepared using thinly sliced fish. It is often compared to sushi, but the difference is that sashimi is served without the rice. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises pregnant women to avoid sashimi and other undercooked fish dishes like ceviche (3).
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Can You Have Seafood When Pregnant?
The many theories that have been developed about seafood consumption during pregnancy may make you question if these foods are safe. Experts acknowledge that eating well-cooked seafood is safe and healthy for pregnant women, as long as they avoid the specific fish which tend to have the highest mercury concentrations.
However, consuming raw seafood diets like sashimi, raw clams, raw oysters, sushi, and ceviche is unsafe. Any undercooked seafood increases the risk of food poisoning or a foodborne infection. It may also adversely affect the brain and nervous system of your developing baby.
Again, it would help if you were cautious of your fish selection. Select those with low mercury contents like salmon, tilapia, herring, catfish, anchovies, sardines, trout, shad, shrimp, and cod. Always seek professional help and advice if you are confused about a specific fish type and its mercury content.
Similarly, remember to cook seafood to 145°F and heat the leftover seafood to 165°F (3). These high temperatures reduce your risk of food poisoning.
The Bottom Line
Is craving fish a sign of pregnancy? Unfortunately, it is not. You may experience such food urges due to numerous factors, including hormonal changes during menstruation, stress, or boredom. The most reliable way of telling if you are pregnant is taking a test supervised by your healthcare provider. If the results come out positive, make sure you add healthy fish choices to your diet plan. These include fish with low mercury content and those that are cooked to at least 145°F. Remember to keep away from raw seafood, including sushi, ceviche, sashimi, raw clams, and raw oysters.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Advice about Eating Fish (2020, fda.gov)
- Can you eat sushi while breastfeeding? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning (2020, cdc.gov)
- Is crab and other seafood safe to eat during pregnancy? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Is it Safe to Eat Crab or Lobster While Pregnant? (2021, webmd.com)
- Nutritional and clinical associations of food cravings in pregnancy (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Oysters: Are They Good for You? (2020, webmd.com)
- Pregnancy and fish: What’s safe to eat? (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Symptoms of pregnancy: What happens first (2019, mayoclinic.org)