Can I Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?

​Sushi While Breastfeeding​: Can ​Nursing Moms ​Eat Them?

Sushi is a favorite of people all over the world, thanks to its unique flavor combinations.

As a breastfeeding mother, you may find yourself posed with the strangest of questions.

It is not uncommon to ask yourself "Can I Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?" since you would have likely heard that you need to be careful while pregnant.

The good news?

You​'ll learn all you need after reading to the end of this informative article and will be able to rest assured with your choices.

Let's get started:

​Is It Safe To Eat Raw Sushi While Breastfeeding?

​Yes, for the most part, sushi is fine if you are breastfeeding [1].

In contrast to being pregnant, eating raw fish sushi does not pose a direct risk to your breastfeeding baby.

Rather, you need to be concerned with the quality of the actual fish use in the preparation, as it is not that farfetched to come down with a case of the food poisoning from poorly stored fish.

Above all, if consuming raw fish sushi, the fish should be kept refrigerated/ iced until ready for consumption, when it may then be microwaved or defrosted by the chef.

It is important to select good sushi restaurants when eating then type, or you run the risk of contracting a gastrointestinal infection.

​Does Eating Sushi Pose Any Risk To My Nursing Baby?

Does Eating Sushi Pose Any Risk To My Nursing Baby?

​While eating sushi is considered mostly safe, it does have a small risk of toxicity due to the mercury content found in many varieties of fish.

Mercury (methylmercury in this case) passes into breast milk to the extent of one-third of the amount found in mother​'s bloodstream, which is low but still not without risk.

Mercury seems to concentrate in newborn babies the most, since babies that are 2-3 months old display significantly lower levels of mercury accumulation[2].

Thus, abstain from eating sushi for a month or two and the risk to the baby will be significantly lower.

​Can I Eat Tuna Sushi While Breastfeeding?

​Yes, the short answer to this question is that you can eat tuna sushi while breastfeeding. However, what needs to be considered is the type of tuna consumed, and the frequency of consumption [3].

Tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to the health of both mother and baby, but carries the risk of mercury bio-accumulation; or the accumulation of mercury in body tissues.

Most adults handle this fine to an extent, but in young children, it could have adverse effects on health.

Choosing tuna of the Skipjack variety possesses a lower inherent risk of mercury toxicity [4], as it contains approximately one-third the amount found in the albacore or yellow fin varieties.

Though the latter two are tastier and creamier, the safety of your child should trump all other considerations.

Fish To Avoid While Breastfeeding - Are All Sushi Fish The Same?

​While there aren​'t specific varieties that you must avoid if you yearn sushi while breastfeeding, some types of fish are notorious for their level of mercury accumulation.

Fish such as albacore tuna, yellowtail, and yellow fin, blue marlin, mackerel, and swordfish are the worst offenders [5] in terms of mercury levels, making it essential that you limit consumption of sushi containing these breeds to as little as possible.

​Is It O​K For Me To Eat Cooked Sushi While Breastfeeding?

​Cooked or raw, in terms of safety to your nursing baby, there is no difference [6]. However, cooking your fish prior to including in sushi is a better way to go if you are wary of picking up an infection as a result of contamination.

Raw sushi is somewhat of an acquitted taste for many people, with many starting with cooked varieties. Regardless of whether you cook it or not, you still need to consider the specific variety of fish used, as this is the primary concern when breastfeeding (due to mercury levels).

​What Are Some Alternative Types Of Sushi I Can Consume While Breastfeeding?

​Did you know that sushi actually refers to the flavored or “vinegar-ed” rice that often goes along with the fish?

Yes, contrary to popular knowledge, there are many types of sushi that don’t include any type of fish at all, as long as it carries the base of rice [7].

If you are worried about the level of mercury that goes along with typical fish based sushi, the good news is that you can try any of the following and still get your fix:

  • ​Maki - made of seasoned rice and filling wrapped in seaweed rolls.
  • ​Urumaki - similar to Maki, except that seaweed wraps the filling alone, with rice compressed over the seaweed.
  • ​Other popular choices include saltwater eel, shrimp (sweetened), squid and cooked clam.

​These are all extremely low in mercury (often zero) and suitable for people who dislike fish based sushi or are apprehensive of the possible adverse effects.

Alternately, you can consume the Sashimi, or meat with nothing else (no rice, no vegetable or fillings).

​Is Sushi Which Includes Raw Oysters Safe For Consumption While Breastfeeding?

Raw Oysters

​Raw oysters are becoming an extremely popular type of sushi, especially during the summer months when their populations are easily farmed.

However, when it comes to raw oysters, while there still remains very little risk to your child [8], there is a higher risk of danger to you owing to the nature of the oyster.

Being filter feeders, they accumulate greater levels of naturally occurring bacteria in the water, notably Vibrio vulnificus. This bacterium is related to the one that causes cholera and may be fatal.

Infection with Vibrio vulnificus normally starts with the same gastrointestinal symptoms associated with food poisoning (vomiting, diarrhea) but can quickly proceed to shock and septicemia. While this may not deter you from consuming raw oysters, if you have a compromised immune system (such as following a cesarean surgery) or liver disease, avoid it at all costs.

​How Often Can I Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?

Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding

​Though there are starkly different forms of sushi, the majority of people are referring to the variety made with raw fish when discussing the topic.

Though it has been determined to be acceptably safe, it goes without saying that only if consumed in moderation.

How much classified as ​"acceptable​"?

Depends on the average mercury content of the species.

Fish that are higher in possible mercury levels such as mackerel, swordfish, and yellow fin / yellowtail should be restricted to no more than 6 ounces per week, while those with lower levels of mercury should be limited to 12 ounces per week [9]. This roughly translates to one or two servings a week, less or more depending on how much a serving is to you!

​These numbers are not set in stone, as variances in where the fish is caught can impact the mercury content. If you are worried, slash these numbers in half for safety.

​Conclusion

​When it comes to eating fish based sushi while breastfeeding, for the most part, it is very safe.

Of course, this is on the premise that you actually exercise smart judgment and do not overdo it.

Fish has numerous benefits, but their mercury content needs to be considered. Stick to sushi that uses fish which are lower in mercury content if you want to minimize your risk.

We hope that you can now rest easy, realizing that you can have that occasional sushi you have been yearning for.

Let us know which part of this article you liked the best by commenting, and share with another mother who may be facing the same conundrum!

Leave a Comment