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Fish is a common craving during pregnancy, especially fish and chips. Many pregnant women worry about this craving because it’s known that fish can be a no-no during pregnancy.

Fish can be harmful for unborn babies, but only some kinds of fish. Other kinds are highly recommended throughout pregnancy, especially for the high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Dangerous fish for pregnant women

All types of seafood are great sources of protein, iron and zinc, which are all vital nutrients needed to support your baby's growth and development.

However, some fish are potentially risky to eat during pregnancy. This is due to the high levels of mercury found in certain species.

When a developing baby is exposed to high levels of mercury they can develop problems with their nervous system and brain.

Fish species that are higher in the food chain are best avoided during pregnancy, such as:

  • Shark
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Swordfish
  • Large southern blue fin tuna

Check the NSW Food Authority for more information.

Remember to also avoid uncooked seafood altogether. This is because raw seafood (like raw meat) can contain harmful bacteria or viruses that can affect your baby in the womb. Specifically, you should avoid:

  • Sushi
  • Sashimi
  • Oysters

Always cook your seafood properly, meaning:

  • Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius so that the flesh is an opaque colour throughout.
  • Shellfish should be cooked until they are milky white.
  • Mussels, pipis and oysters need to be cooked until their shells open. Discard any that don't open.

The best fish to eat during pregnancy

The best types of fish to eat during pregnancy are oily fish types. Fish especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Tinned or fresh mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Trout and ocean trout
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Ling
  • Flathead
  • Herring
  • Kippers
  • Pilchards
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Fresh cooked tuna with low mercury levels
If you’re not a big seafood fan, walnuts, chia seeds flaxseed, rapeseed and linseed are also high in omega-3.

Fish oil supplements

There are two kinds of fish oil supplement. It depends on the part of the fish that it’s made from:

  1. The fish liver
  2. The body of the fish

Fish oil supplements made from fish liver, such as cod liver oil, contain a form of vitamin A that is dangerous to consume when pregnant. You should avoid these types of supplements during pregnancy.

However, fish oil supplements derived from the body of the fish contain high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These nutrients are essential for your baby's developing eyes and brain.

If your diet covers a range of varied food groups, including some oily fish high in omerga-3, you shouldn’t need to take a fish oil supplement.