Eating Clam Chowder During Pregnancy

Eating Clam Chowder During Pregnancy

Consuming clams while pregnant can be considered safe and nutritious. It is essential, however, to ensure that clams are thoroughly cooked to avoid any potential health risks associated with raw or undercooked seafood. Pregnant women can enjoy dishes like clam chowder made with pasteurized milk and cream, which can add to their overall nutrient intake. In this context, let’s delve a bit deeper into the topic of clam chowder and its safety for pregnant women, providing you with valuable insights on incorporating this delicious and comforting seafood-based soup into your pregnancy diet with confidence. After all, you would not want to miss out on your favourite, but at the same time, would also want to know whether it’s safe for consumption.

What Is Clam Chowder?

Clam chowder is a famous soup that is easy to make at home with a few simple ingredients. Chowders come in various flavors, but clam chowder is the most popular. The soup may include clams, vegetables, shallots, and meat, depending on your preferences. The fundamental difference between the two is the broth: some like a thick, creamy soup produced with milk; others prefer a red broth made with tomatoes; while others prefer a translucent broth created with clam juice. Whatever your origins, everyone feels their clam chowder is the greatest. 

Nutritional Value of Clams

Clams are a type of shellfish that not only adds a delicious taste to various dishes but also offers several nutritional benefits. They are a rich source of essential nutrients that can be beneficial for overall health. 

In a 100-gram serving of clams, you can find the following nutritional components:

  • Calories: 74 kilocalories
  • Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 198 milligrams
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 0 milligrams
  • Protein: 12.8 grams

Clams are also rich in vitamins, including Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, B3, and Vitamin A. They are notably abundant in iron and vitamin B12.

Regarding minerals, per 100 grams of clams:

  • Iron: 78% of the recommended daily intake
  • Selenium: 35%
  • Manganese: 17%
  • Phosphorus: 17%
  • Copper: 17%
  • Zinc: 9%
  • Potassium: 9%
  • Calcium: 5%
  • Magnesium: 5%
  • Sodium: 2%

Can Pregnant Women Eat Clam Chowder?

Pregnant women may safely eat clams by cooking clam chowder while pregnant. Eating raw clams is never a good idea, especially if you wonder, “is clam chowder safe during pregnancy?”

  • Vibrio vulnificus, an ocean-dwelling bacterium that may cause food poisoning in humans and other animals, is a bacteria present in raw clams.
  • As far as appearance, taste, and smell go, bacterially infected clams (and oysters) are no different from their uninfected counterparts.
  • Pregnant women should avoid eating any raw shellfish because of the risk of food poisoning.
  • Heating destroys the bulk of germs, which is in their favor. As previously said, cooked clams are far safer than raw ones. Depending on the method used, it changes what it means to be ‘cooked.’

Side-Effects of Eating Clam Chowder When Pregnant

Eating clam chowder during pregnancy can be a delightful way to enjoy the flavors of seafood while expecting. However, it’s crucial to be aware of any potential side effects or concerns that may arise from consuming this dish. In this section, we will outline some of the possible side effects of eating clam chowder when pregnant, offering you a comprehensive understanding of what to watch out for during this special time.

1. Foodborne Illnesses

If clam chowder is not prepared and stored properly, it may pose a risk of foodborne illnesses like bacterial infections, which can have adverse effects on both the mother and the developing baby.

2. Allergies and Sensitivities

Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to seafood ingredients in clam chowder, which can lead to allergic reactions, hives, or digestive discomfort.

3. Mercury Concerns

Although clams themselves are considered low in mercury, if the clam chowder contains other seafood ingredients with higher mercury levels, there may be concerns about mercury exposure during pregnancy, which can harm the baby’s developing nervous system.

4. Gastrointestinal Discomfort

Rich and creamy clam chowder can sometimes lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, such as indigestion or heartburn, which can be more common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.

5. Caloric and Nutrient Considerations

While clam chowder can be nutritious, it is also relatively high in calories and fat. Pregnant women should consume it in moderation and be mindful of overall calorie and nutrient intake to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.

6. Lactose Intolerance

If the clam chowder contains dairy products and the pregnant woman is lactose intolerant, it can lead to digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Ways to Have Clams Safely While Pregnant

Enjoying clams safely during pregnancy is possible when you follow some essential guidelines to minimize potential risks and maximize the nutritional benefits of this seafood. In this section, we will provide you with key ways to have clams safely while pregnant, ensuring both your health and the well-being of your developing baby.

  • Ensure that clams, whether used in clam chowder or other dishes, are cooked thoroughly to kill any potentially harmful bacteria or parasites. Proper cooking eliminates the risk of foodborne illnesses.
  • Purchase clams from reputable sources that follow safe seafood handling practices. This helps reduce the chances of exposure to contaminants or toxins.
  • Steer clear of raw or undercooked clams, as these can pose a higher risk of foodborne illnesses and may contain harmful pathogens.
  • If you have a history of seafood allergies or sensitivities, be cautious when consuming clam-based dishes. Monitor for any adverse reactions and consult with a healthcare provider if necessary.
  • Be aware of the mercury content in seafood. Clams are generally considered low in mercury, but if you consume other seafood alongside clams, choose varieties that are low in mercury to minimize exposure.
  • Enjoy clam chowder and clam-based dishes in moderation as part of a balanced diet. This helps you reap the nutritional benefits without excessive calorie intake.
  • If your clam chowder contains dairy products and you are lactose intolerant, consider lactose-free alternatives to avoid digestive discomfort.

Precautions to Take While Eating Clam Chowder During Pregnancy 

Soup with clams or grilled flounder filets is an excellent choice. Take the following precautions:

1. Stop Eating Raw Meat 

Fish and shellfish that are raw or undercooked are more susceptible to parasites and microbial contamination. They may spread listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella when consumed. The immune system is compromised during pregnancy, reducing its capacity to defend itself against foodborne infections. Your infant’s immune system is not fully developed. Uncooked or raw fish might result in congenital disabilities or miscarriages.

2. Avoid Any Mercurous Seafood 

Mercury levels in most fish are high enough to harm your infant’s growing neurological system. The FDA advises against eating these items.

  • Tilefish, king mackerel, shark, and marlin
  • Consume mercury-free fish, such as tilapia and catfish (like shrimp)

The FDA offers canned light tuna for less mercury than albacore (white) tuna. However, limit yourself to six ounces of canned tuna each week. Mercury builds in the bloodstream over time, so use caution while pregnant. Pregnant women who suspect they have been exposed to mercury should see their physician immediately.

3. Accept Difference 

Mercury is a naturally occurring element present in the majority of shellfish. Consuming a variety of fish and shellfish, on the other hand, may assist in limiting mercury consumption. Pregnant women are deemed safe to consume up to 12 ounces of fish each week. Bear in mind that the usual serving size for fish is 3–6 ounces.

4. Pick Your Battles 

When prepared correctly, seafood is safe to eat during pregnancy. As a result, use caution in making your selections. Uncooked or raw fish might be hazardous to your health. Cooking destroys the majority of parasites and bacteria. Thus, maintain a hot supper. To guarantee correct cooking, use a food thermometer. Return lukewarm restaurant meals. Avoid making your meal near or on raw fish or meat whether you’re cooking, eating out, or ordering delivery. This minimizes the possibility of parasites or pathogens being embedded in your food.

5. Handle Cautiously 

Food safety is equally dependent on food handling, preparation, and storage. The following are some suggestions for enhancing the safety and lifespan of your seafood:

  • Wash all cutting boards, knives, and food prep surfaces thoroughly with hot soapy water after handling raw fish.
  • Knives and chopping boards designed for raw fish are required.
  • Store leftovers and perishables in airtight containers at 40°F (4°C) or 0°F (-17°C).
  • Food that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.
  • Discard perishable, precooked, or leftover food after four days.
  • Before and after handling food, you must clean your hands thoroughly.

6. Mind the Chowder Ingredients

Pay close attention to the ingredients in your clam chowder. Ensure that it contains fully cooked clams and pasteurized dairy products to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Avoid chowders that incorporate raw or undercooked seafood ingredients.

Craving Clam Chowder in Pregnancy

Craving clam chowder during pregnancy is not uncommon, as the rich and savory flavors of this seafood-based soup can be quite enticing. While satisfying pregnancy cravings can be a delightful experience, it’s essential to make informed choices about what you eat to ensure both your health and the well-being of your baby. To address these cravings safely, it’s advisable to opt for clam chowder prepared with fully cooked clams, following recommended safety guidelines, and consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice during pregnancy.

How to Include Clams in Your Pregnancy Diet?

Clam chowder is a lot easier to make than you would think. You’ll be shocked at how creamy, and savory homemade clam chowder is. If you have a few pantry ingredients on hand, you can include cooked clams while pregnant in your diet.

1. Easy Clam Chowder


  • Four shredded bacon
  • Two tbsp unsalted butter
  • One diced onions
  • Two clams chopped, fluid conserved
  • One tsp finely chopped cilantro
  • Ground pepper, to taste.
  • One cup milk
  • Three teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • Two russet potatoes diced


  1. In a sizeable Slow cooker over medium heat, fry the bacon for approximately six minutes. 
  2. Coat a platter with a paper towel after cooking.
  3. Melt the butter. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the onions are transparent.
  4. Slightly toast the flour. Two minutes later, add the milk, clam juice, and parsley leaves to the soup, whisking constantly.
  5. Add the cubed potatoes and simmer for 12-15 minutes until cooked.
  6. Sauté the clam for two min. Then add season to taste.
  7. Serve hot with pork and cilantro if desired.

2. New-England Clam Chowder 


  • Four dozen cherrystone clams have been cleaned
  • Sliced half-inch thick, two cups of low-sodium chicken broth bacon
  • Salt and kosher pepper dill have been added to the mixture, along with two onions and three carrots.
  • One-fourth tsp cayenne powder.
  • One cup all-purpose flour
  • An ounce and a half of medium red potatoes diced
  • Two ears of maize, the kernels removed
  • Seasoning: one tbsp of Old Bay
  • Chopped one tbsp Worcestershire one cup semisweet parsley
  • Tabasco pepper, freshly crushed to a fine powder


  1. Using an eight-quart saucepan, add the clams and four cups of water. 
  2. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for four minutes until the clams open. 
  3. Remove any clams that don’t open and place them in a large bowl of ice. 
  4. Measure out 5 1/2 cups of the clam juice by straining it into a big cup. 
  5. Make a total of 7 1/2 cups of chicken broth from scratch. 
  6. Remove the clams from their shells and cut them into smaller pieces.
  7. The soup pot should be cleaned and heated. Stir often for 12 minutes, until crispy.
  8. Contains two tsp of salt, pepper, and bay leaves—Cook for ten minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. 
  9. Add the potatoes, corn, and Old Bay and boil for 15 minutes until the potatoes are done. 
  10. Tabasco, Worcestershire, and parsley. Stir in the clams and turn off the heat, if necessary. 
  11. Salt and pepper to taste after removing the bay leaf. It’s best to serve it in a dish.

3. Five-Star Clam Chowder Recipe 


  • Two eggs, one tbsp. bacon, chopped (chops easier frozen)
  • Chopped up a white onion
  • A pound and a half of broccoli (about three stalks)
  • Grated carrots make up one cup.
  • A single tsp. of the herb
  • One-tablespoon basil oregano (1/2 a giant clam can get from Costco for this)
  • Two quarts of cream
  • Diced potato, 134 tsp salt, and two c. (2 meds)
  • Five tsp of Tabasco pepper sauce
  • The Worcestershire sauce is one tablespoon.
  • One cup iced tea with One cup of flour


  1. In an eight-quart pot, melt the butter and sauté the bacon and spices until the bacon is cooked but not browned.
  2. Toast bread in a pan with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.
  3. Potatoes, clam broth, white pepper, and Worcestershire sauce
  4. Cook for 13 minutes to soften the potatoes and mix the flavors.
  5. Creamy sauce made with clams and boiled carrots.
  6. Add flour, one tsp of salt, and cold water to a jar and mix carefully to keep the mixture moving. You should add just enough to get the required consistency.

Popular Clam Dishes With Pregnancy Safety

To ensure the safety of your clam consumption during pregnancy, here are some popular clam dishes and serving methods, along with what you should verify:

1. Canned/Tinned Clams

Canned or tinned clams are safe for pregnant women to enjoy, whether hot or cold, as long as they are shelf-stable (not refrigerated). These clams come pre-cooked and sterilized in cans or jars, making them a pregnancy-safe choice.

2. Clam Juice

Pregnant women can consume clam juice without worries if it’s from a commercially-produced jar, such as Bar Harbor, Reese, or Lookes, as these are sterilized. Fresh clam juice is typically derived from steamed or sautéed clams, and when served hot, it remains safe. Clam juice used as a base in soups, stews, or sauces is also considered safe since it undergoes heating during preparation.

3. Clam Strips (Fried Clams)

Deep-fried clams or clam strips are safe during pregnancy when they are thoroughly cooked. For larger clams, a simple check involves cutting one in half to ensure it is piping hot and cooked throughout, which ensures their safety.

4. Stuffed Clams

Stuffed clams, typically clams in half-shells with a filling and topped with breadcrumbs or cheese, then oven-baked, are safe to consume during pregnancy. Like other clam dishes, the key is to ensure they are fully cooked. When the same oven-baking process is applied, cheese and other toppings become safe for consumption as well.


1. Is it Safe to Eat Canned Clam Chowder During Pregnancy?

Canned clam chowder can be safe during pregnancy if it’s from a reputable brand and properly stored. Check the label for any warnings about consuming it during pregnancy and ensure it’s fully heated to eliminate any potential bacterial risks.

2. Can Pregnant Women Eat Seafood Chowder?

Women can enjoy seafood chowder in pregnancy, but it’s essential to be cautious. Make sure the seafood in the chowder is thoroughly cooked, and avoid raw or undercooked ingredients. Additionally, choose seafood varieties low in mercury to minimize potential risks.

3. Can You Consume Oyster With Clams in Pregnancy?

While both oysters and clams can be safe to eat during pregnancy when fully cooked, it’s essential to be aware of the risk of contamination, especially with raw or undercooked oysters. To be on the safe side, it’s generally advisable to avoid raw oysters during pregnancy and opt for fully-cooked seafood dishes.

Is clam chowder safe to consume during pregnancy? Affirmative, there is a resounding yes to this question. Consequently, you can relax and enjoy your baked clams while pregnant guilt-free. While pregnant ladies who want seafood may consume clams, physicians advise against eating raw or undercooked clams to stay safe from parasites and bacteria. Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting your intake of clams since seafood is known to contain mercury.


1. Risks of Eating Raw Oysters or Clams; Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference;

2. Foods to avoid in pregnancy; NHS UK;

3. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012); U.S. Food & Drug Administration;

4. Clams; Environmental Defense Fund: EDF Seafood Selector;

5. Coletta. J, Bell. S, Roman. A; Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy; National Library of Medicine;

6. Advice about Eating Fish For Those Who Might Become or Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding and Children Ages 1 – 11 Years; U.S. Food & Drug Administration;

7. Fish: Friend or Foe?; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health;

8. Golding. J, Steer. C, Emmett. P, Davis. J, Hibbeln. J; High levels of depressive symptoms in pregnancy with low omega-3 fatty acid intake from fish; National Library of Medicine;; July 2009

Also Read:

Eating Crab while Pregnant
Eating Mussels in Pregnancy
Consuming Prawns during Pregnancy

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.