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Leigh Anne O'Connor
Lactation Specialist

Fish and Breastfeeding?

Can I eat fish while breastfeeding?

Yes, breastfeeding moms can eat fish, but you do need to be cautious about what kind it is and how much of it you have.

Fish has all kinds of benefits for breastfeeding moms and babies. It’s high in protein and contains omega-3 fats, which are important for optimal  development of a baby’s nervous system. The problem is that many of our fish live in polluted waterways and accumulate chemicals (particularly mercury, which can affect baby’s brain!). So choose fish that are low in mercury, and avoid fish that have high mercury levels.

The USDA and FDA recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding moms stay away from shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish — those are the ones known to have high mercury levels. Instead, choose low-mercury fish, such as salmon, pollock, catfish, shrimp and canned light tuna. If you eat locally-caught fish, check local advisories for recommendations regarding fish consumption from that body of water. If no local recommendations are available, restrict your intake of locally-caught fish to six ounces in a week, and don’t eat fish from other sources in that same week.

Also, look out for the different types of tuna. Albacore tuna typically contains more mercury than canned light tuna, so if you eat albacore, don’t have more than six ounces of it in a week.

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