Sushi and Breastfeeding

I received two phone calls this week about sushi and breastfeeding. After answering the calls, I decided to write an article to answer some common questions. The calls went something like this: “Is it ok for eat sushi while breastfeeding? I remember I was not supposed to eat sushi during pregnancy and I wanted to check with you first.” The short answer is yes but only on occasion, eating sushi while breastfeeding is considered safe but there are some guidelines.

First, let’s explore why there are restrictions. sushi Two main reasons for fish restrictions: high levels of bacteria and mercury levels.

The FDA reports that certain types of fish are more likely to contain bacteria (such as salmonella, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus), and viral infections (including hepatitis A) . All these bacteria/viruses have been found in raw fish. The fish more likely to contain these pathogens are: raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly clams, oysters and mussels. Raw and undercooked fish can also contain parasites (such as worms). So in other words, make sure your fish is fresh and from a reputable source.

Also, fish can contain higher levels of mercury. The FDA recommends 1 part per million or less for ingestion. Fish that should be avoided in pregnancy AND lactation are: hark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish or tuna steaks due to higher levels of mercury being reported.

Fish is high in Omega 3 (a really important fatty acid linked to brain development). So, avoiding fish all together is not recommended. In fact, it is recommended by the FDA to eat up to 12 ounces of fish per week. What fish is best? Here is a handy printable card from the National Resouces Defense Council that outlines Mercury in fish: view the list and print off your card by clicking here: I was shocked to see that canned Albacore is on the list as high levels of mercury. Good to know.

So back to the recommendations on sushi and breastfeeding.

1. Consider the type of fish used in the roll, choose fish lower in mercury

2. Only ingest that type of fish in accordance with the above linked recommendation lists (some fish can be ingested weekly while others are monthly etc.)

3. Keep in mind your child could have a fish (in particular shellfish allergy) especially if it runs in the family. Eat in moderation.

4. If in doubt request a veggie roll or one prepared with cooked fish. Both are readily available options.

In summary, there are really no foods a breastfeeding mother should avoid. There are lots of myths circulating about avoiding honey, spicy foods, milk, soft cheeses and others. Common sense wisdom here: anything that can make you sick can make baby sick. There is always a possibility of any food causing food borne illness.

I hope this article was informative. If you have any further questions about anything breastfeed related please feel free to search this site (over 500 articles to date)SEARCH BAR TO TOP LEFT or submit a question to me using this : ASK ME PAGE

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