Can You Eat Crab While Pregnant?

When you're pregnant, there are so many important things you need to focus on. Your diet is one of the things that most greatly affects your and your baby-to be's health. There are plenty of foods that you should and shouldn't eat during pregnancy, and just because a certain food is healthy for non-pregnant people doesn't mean it's safe to eat when you're pregnant. As if that isn't confusing enough, there are myths we've all heard regarding what is and is not safe to eat when you're pregnant, and it can be difficult to know what is fact and what is fiction.

Most of us have probably heard that seafood is a major no-no when it comes to eating for two, but how true is it (via WebMD)? If you're having a major crab craving, is it safe to indulge? As it turns out, whether or not you can give into crustacean cravings depends a lot on what seafood you're eating and how much (via Mayo Clinic).

Seafood benefits

If you love crab, and you've got a bun in the oven, you're in luck. There are seafood options that are actually good for you to enjoy when you're pregnant, and crab is one of them (via WebMD). You can use crab or lobster as a great source of protein during your pregnancy. 

Eating too much mercury can be a risk for anyone, but it's especially dangerous when you're pregnant (via March of Dimes). This is why it's important to opt for seafood options that are low in mercury if you're about to indulge in an aquatic feast. To reap maximum benefits from your seafood, choose fish that are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. This can decrease your likelihood of getting depressed during or after pregnancy. Salmon, anchovies, shrimp, and canned tuna are all easy options that are low mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids (via Mayo Clinic).

For seafood low in mercury, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, anyone who is pregnant should consume anywhere from eight to 12 ounces of fish weekly. This blows the myth that you should avoid fish during pregnancy right out of the water. On top of that, according to WebMD, studies have shown that eating about one to three servings of fish per week during your pregnancy can also reduce your child's risk of getting diabetes and heart disease. The benefits go beyond that. Even The New York Times reported that studies have shown that if you eat seafood during your pregnancy, your child may end up with better cognitive abilities.

What to avoid

While it's clear that there are plenty of benefits to eating seafood while pregnant, that doesn't mean that the notion that there are risks is entirely a myth. There are still seafoods that you should avoid during your pregnancy. Eating too much mercury while pregnant can actually damage your baby's nervous system, which includes their brain (via WebMD). So, while eating a suggested amount of seafood with low levels of mercury can boost your child's IQ, according to The New York Times, it can have the opposite effect if that seafood is high mercury. 

How do you know which fish are high in mercury, though? Generally, the larger the fish, the more you should steer clear. You should also avoid predatory fish for this reason (via Mayo Clinic). This means things like shark and swordfish should stay off the menu until after you've given birth.

Mercury isn't the only risk that seafood poses when you're expecting. It's also important to make sure that all the seafood you consume is cooked thoroughly. That means sushi, oysters, lox, and smoked fish aren't good choices. By the same token, you should err on the side of caution when making sure that your cooked fish is cooked completely. This ensures that dangerous bacteria stays far away from you and your baby-to-be. So, don't be afraid to take a bite of that crab cake, but make sure you schedule your next sushi date for after the baby is born.