Can You Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding? When is it Safe?

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Are you wondering whether you can eat sushi while breastfeeding? After pregnancy, many Moms look to indulge in their favorite foods that they may have given up for 9 months, such as sushi. Sushi, a popular Japanese dish made with raw fish, seaweed, and rice, is often a concern for breastfeeding mothers due to the potential risks associated with the consumption of raw fish.

It can be hard figuring out what to eat while breastfeeding. Especially when there are so many conflicting answers across the internet and nuances to following a breastfeeding diet.

In this post, we will explore the safety guidelines around eating sushi while breastfeeding and answer the question: can you eat sushi while breastfeeding?

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Is It Safe To Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?

Yes, its generally considered safe to eat sushi while breastfeeding, as long as certain guidelines are followed. Both raw and cooked varieties of sushi offer nutritional benefits when breastfeeding. The real risk in sushi is that it is not properly handled and stored.

Here are some key reasons why sushi is generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers:

Nutritional Benefits: Sushi can provide important nutritional benefits for breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding is a crucial time to prioritize your health and nutrition to support your babys growth and development.

Fish, the main ingredient in sushi, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain development in infants (source). Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can benefit both the mothers and the babys health.

Cultural Traditions: Sushi is a staple in Japanese cuisine and has been consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers for generations without any adverse effects. In many other countries, sushi is also a popular choice for breastfeeding and pregnant women and is considered safe when consumed in moderation and with caution as discussed below.

Breast Milk Composition: The composition of breast milk is largely influenced by the mothers diet (source). Including a variety of foods in your diet, including sushi, can help diversify breast milk and expose the baby to different flavors and nutrients, which can be beneficial for their long-term eating habits.

Learn all about breastfeeding foods here, plus get your free printable below!

Guidelines For Eating Sushi While Breastfeeding

Although sushi is generally considered safe, there are some important guidelines breastfeeding mothers should follow to minimize any potential risks.

Here are the basic guidelines to keep in mind when consuming sushi while breastfeeding:

1 - Choose High-Quality Sushi

Its important to choose high-quality sushi from reputable sources to ensure that the fish used is fresh and safe to consume.

Avoid sushi from questionable sources, such as street vendors or gas stations, as the risk of foodborne illnesses may be higher. Similarly, it is generally not recommended to consume sushi from a buffet or a grocery store while breastfeeding.

Sushi from such sources may not be as fresh and may not have been handled properly, increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses such as listeria monocytogenes.

Its safer to choose sushi from reputable restaurants, or sushi establishments known for their food safety practices and high-quality fish.

2 - Avoid Mercury-Laden Fish

Some fish species contain high levels of mercury, a toxic metal that can accumulate in the body over time and pose risks to the unborn baby or nursing baby.

Avoid these types of fish while breastfeeding known to be high in mercury:

  • shark
  • swordfish
  • bigeye tuna
  • king mackerel
  • tilefish

They can be harmful to both you and your babys nervous system when consumed in large quantities over time.

Instead, choose low-mercury fish when breastfeeding such as:

  • salmon
  • albacore or yellow fin tuna
  • trout
  • sardines
  • herring
  • scallop
  • shrimp
  • haddock
  • cod
  • tilapia

3 - Opt for Cooked Sushi

While raw fish is a common ingredient in sushi, you may choose to err on the side of caution and opt for cooked sushi instead.

Cooked types of sushi, such as California rolls, vegetable rolls, or cooked fish rolls, can be a safer choice as they eliminate the risk of consuming raw seafood and potential foodborne pathogens.

Raw fish may contain harmful bacteria or parasites that can cause food poisoning. Unlike while pregnant, it can not be transmitted to the baby through breast milk (source). However, getting food poisoning while breastfeeding is very undesirable, to say the least.

Therefore to be on the safe side, the best choice may be to go for cooked sushi options until baby is weaned.

4 - Avoid High-Risk Ingredients

Some ingredients commonly used in sushi may pose a higher risk of foodborne illnesses.

Avoid ingredients like:

  • raw eggs
  • unpasteurized dairy
  • high-risk seafood like shellfish
  • salmon roe

Again you can still choose to eat these ingredients, they just have a higher risk for contamination. So, its a good idea to avoid such high-risk ingredients while breastfeeding, especially if you have a weakened immune system.

Learn more about foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

5 - Pay Attention to Food Handling Practices

Proper food handling and hygiene practices are crucial when consuming sushi while breastfeeding because this is the main reason sushi is risky.

Make sure that the sushi is prepared and handled in a clean and sanitary environment to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. Also, ensure that the utensils and plates used for serving sushi are clean and safe to use.

Other Considerations For Breastfeeding Mothers

In addition to the guidelines mentioned above, there are a few other considerations that breastfeeding moms should keep in mind when it comes to eating sushi:

Allergies: Some people may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients commonly found in sushi, such as fish, shellfish, or soy. If you have a history of food allergies or sensitivities, its important to be mindful of the ingredients used in sushi and avoid any potential allergens that may affect both you and your baby.

Personal Health: Breastfeeding mothers should also consider their health conditions and consult with their healthcare provider before consuming sushi. For example, if you have a weakened immune system, are recovering from an illness, or have any specific health concerns, its best to discuss with your healthcare provider whether sushi consumption is safe for you.

Portion Sizes: Like with any other food, portion sizes are important when it comes to sushi. Its essential to eat sushi in moderation and not consume excessive amounts, as it can lead to an imbalance in your diet and potentially affect your babys health through breast milk. Its best to maintain a well-rounded, balanced, healthy diet that includes a variety of foods, including sushi, in appropriate portions.

Check out our breastfeeding meal plan for more ideas on what to eat to optimize your diet.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sushi and Breastfeeding

Here are some commonly asked questions that you may have when considering eating sushi when nursing.

Can I eat sushi with raw vegetables or fruits while breastfeeding?

Raw vegetables or fruits used in sushi, such as cucumber, avocado, or mango, are generally considered safe to consume while breastfeeding, as long as they are fresh and properly washed, just be aware of any potential allergens.

Can I eat sushi rolls with imitation crab meat while breastfeeding?

Imitation crab meat, which is made from processed fish, is generally considered safe to eat while breastfeeding. However, its important to check the ingredient list and choose reputable brands to ensure the quality and safety of imitation crab meat.

Can I eat sushi with wasabi or soy sauce while breastfeeding?

Wasabi and soy sauce are commonly used condiments in sushi, but they can be high in sodium. Its important to consume them in moderation and be mindful of your overall sodium intake, as excessive sodium intake can lead to health issues. Opt for reduced-sodium soy sauce or use it sparingly.

Read more breastfeeding diet tips here.

Can I eat sushi while breastfeeding if I am a vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, vegan and vegetarian options of sushi, such as vegetable rolls, avocado rolls, or cucumber rolls, are generally considered safe to eat while breastfeeding. However, its important to ensure that fresh ingredients are used and properly washed and to be mindful of potential allergens or sensitivities.

What types of sushi rolls can I eat while breastfeeding?

Here are a few kinds of sushi rolls that are safe for breastfeeding that do not contain raw fish:

  • California rolls
  • Avocado roll
  • Boston roll - without roe to be safe
  • Cucumber roll
  • Dragon roll
  • Oshinko
  • Philadelphia roll
  • Teriyaki roll
  • Vegetable roll

So, Is it okay to eat sushi while breastfeeding?

Sushi can generally be considered safe for breastfeeding mothers, as long as certain guidelines are followed. Its important to choose high-quality sushi from reputable sources and fish with less mercury. Consider avoiding raw sushi, and sushi with high-risk ingredients, just to be safe. And pay attention to food handling practices. Additionally, considering personal health conditions and portion sizes is crucial.

By following these guidelines and considering individual circumstances, you can make informed, good choices about including sushi in your diet while breastfeeding.

Remember, the safety and health of both you and your baby should be the top priority. If you have any concerns or questions about your breastfeeding diet, its best to consult with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant for personalized advice.

So, go enjoy your sushi mindfully and follow the safety guidelines.

Have questions about eating sushi while breastfeeding? Ask them in the comments below!

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Check out our sushi when breastfeeding web story!

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