What You Should Know Before Eating Sushi While Pregnant

Those of us who have been pregnant before aren't likely to forget the joys and grief that comes with carrying a child. The mood swings. Water retention. Swollen ankles. The inevitable weight gain. And then there are the pregnancy food cravings. If you're lucky, all you'll want is pickles and ice cream. But if you're into more regional dishes, you might crave the more traditional Japanese nigiri sushi, which has thin slices of raw fish pressed on top of sushi rice (via Spoon University) — and that could present a problem.

The bad news for sushi lovers is that the official medical recommendation in the US discourages moms-to-be from consuming raw or undercooked fish, because it's considered a higher-risk food and could well expose both you and your baby to potentially harmful organisms like bacteria and parasites. The UK's National Health Service says raw fish like salmon can have small parasitic worms like anisakis, which can trigger abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Certain types of sushi rolls are safe to consume

Certain fish can also contain high levels of mercury, which can trigger neurological issues in unborn babies. Mercury levels can be especially high in fish like bigeye, yellowfin tuna, swordfish, and marlin (via The Bump). "Due to immune system changes during pregnancy, pregnant women are more susceptible to infection, which can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, uterine infection, and preterm delivery," clinical dietitian Kristian Morey tells Healthline. This means that nigiri, sashimi sushi, and a platter of neat raw fish are all unfortunately on the list of foods you shouldn't eat while pregnant.

But here's the good news: Just because pregnant women can't eat raw fish doesn't mean all sushi is off the pregnancy menu, particularly since moms-to-be need to have a hefty dose of omega 3 fatty acids. The opportunity to indulge is there when the seafood in sushi has been heated to 145 F, which is usually the case with cooked sushi or tempura rolls (via The Bump). You can also go ham on all the vegetarian sushi rolls you'd like, which may surprise you in satisfying that sushi craving by offering similar flavors.