Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

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Archana Shah (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
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A healthy diet is important during pregnancy and now that you’re pregnant, you must have started including nutritious foods in your diet. But there will be days when you will want to give in to your cravings and eat your heart’s desire, but it may not be safe for your health as well as your baby’s health. For instance, if you love eating seafood and are craving it, you might wonder if it’s safe to consume during pregnancy. Seafood does taste delicious, but it does not exactly fall into the category of safe foods during pregnancy. One of the tastiest options in seafood is shrimp. And if you’re planning to eat it while pregnant, we suggest you read this article to know whether or not you should eat it.


Can a Pregnant Woman Eat Shrimp?

Yes, a woman can eat shrimp during pregnancy, provided it doesn’t become a part of her daily meal. While most seafood is not good for a mom-to-be and her baby, shrimp has a low mercury level and is safe to eat when cooked well. However, as is the case with any good thing – eat it in small doses at about 340g a week. That should cover two meals but if it gets done in one sitting, don’t worry.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Shrimp While Pregnant?

Shrimp is a healthy food as it a rich source of various vitamins and minerals that are good for both the mother and baby. Find out what are the health benefits of eating shrimp:

  1. It Does Not Lead to Unhealthy Weight Gain: Shrimp is an all-round healthy option as it has a low-fat content so there are no concerns regarding weight gains or spikes at an unhealthy level.
  2. It Helps in Foetal Growth: Shrimp has high levels of protein which is key to foetal growth. A majority of the shrimp’s edible portion is water (75%). Out of the remaining 25%, 80% is protein. It is also rich in amino acids.
  3. It May Help Lower the Risk of Anaemia During Pregnancy: For every 100 gm of shrimp you eat, you gain 1.8gm of iron, which is significant for overall baby growth and development. Iron also reduces the risk of anaemia in pregnancy and helps with blood supply to the baby. It also reduces the risk of premature birth.
  1. It Contributes to the Development of the Nervous System: Another element key to your pregnancy that can be found in shrimp are high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. What are these? Super-nutrients that help in the development of your child’s nervous system and eyes. They contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and studies have shown that women who consume safe seafood give birth to babies with more enhanced cognitive skills.
  1. It Provides Calcium: Shrimp is a good source of calcium and eating it during pregnancy can help you meet your requirements of calcium to an extent and help build your baby’s bones. That said, you should eat it in moderation and after checking with your doctor.

Is It Safe to Eat Raw or Uncooked Shrimp When Pregnant?

Eating raw or uncooked food during pregnancy is a strict no. Even when you’re not pregnant, you should never eat raw, uncooked, or undercooked shrimp. Raw or uncooked/undercooked shrimp can contain worms and parasites that could make both mom and baby sick. Furthermore, they contain listeria which causes a bacterial infection. All these bacteria infect the foetus by passing through the placenta, and in some cases even cause a miscarriage. Uncooked shrimp are even exposed to antibiotics that could cause serious impediments to your baby’s development.

Ways to Eat Shrimp Safely in Pregnancy

If you love shrimp you must be looking for ways to make it more delicious. Well, your search ends here. Below are some ways to eat shrimp in a safe way during pregnancy:


  • Consider eating shrimp the Indian way in curry or tandoori style.
  • You can use them in cocktails or tempura.
  • When eating shrimp ensure your food is from a source with no alerts for high levels of mercury.
  • Before you eat shrimp, ensure that it is well-refrigerated and thawed.
  • Avoid salads, sushi, and sashimis, as these contain raw shrimp.

Which Species of Shrimps Are Safe to Consume?

There are surprisingly a lot of sub-species of shrimp which are safe to consume during pregnancy. Let’s learn about these species.

  • Wild-caught spot prawns: Massive shrimps that are found in the Pacific Coast of the US or British Columbia. Shrimps from these parts are very expensive.
  • Wild-caught pink shrimp, bay shrimp, cocktail shrimp, northern shrimp: This is a species found in cold water. They are commonly used in salads, beans, or rice for garnishing.
  • Wild-caught rock shrimps: Found in the Gulf of Mexico, these regular-sized shrimps are sweet to taste, look like lobsters, and do not require much time to cook.
  • US-farmed shrimps: Cultured under the US regulation act, they have higher standards.

Precautions to Take While Eating Shrimp If You Are Pregnant

You should take certain things into consideration before eating shrimp during pregnancy. Remember these things when eating shrimp in pregnancy:


  • Maintain your consumption to only 250 gm to 300 gm a week.
  • Check the water source for alerts on mercury levels.
  • Ensure that the species is safe to eat.
  • Eat well-cooked shrimp.
  • Eat it at home as you will be assured that it is well-cleaned.
  • Ensure that the shrimp you eat is boiled at 70°C to kill all bacteria and is well-cooked.

How to Cook Shrimp

The only downside of eating shrimp whether you are pregnant or not is the agony of cleaning it thoroughly. It is a time-consuming process but is worth it for the yummy outcome and you will find yourself eating cooked shrimp soon enough.


  • If you freeze the shrimp, make sure you thaw it properly before cooking.
  • Clean it with warm water. Scale, remove the intestinal tract and back vein. Use a sharp knife to ensure the deveining is easier.
  • Boil the shrimp at 74ºC as all bacteria die at this temperature.
  • Sauté or fry the shrimp to ensure it is cooked properly.
  • When using a microwave, let it stand for three to four minutes, and then sauté or fry.

Can You Eat Shrimp Paste?

Shrimp paste is safe to consume during pregnancy as long as it is prepared at home and cooked thoroughly. But you must avoid consuming shrimp paste available in the grocery store or in restaurants.


You can enjoy plenty of shrimp delicacies and a variety of recipes when you are pregnant. Pregnancy is a wonderful time and while you have to stay safe and eat with caution for your baby, shrimp is one delicious seafood that you can have the pleasure of eating. Ensure you prepare and cook it well and do not eat more than the recommended amount.

Also Read: Eating Fish during Pregnancy – Safe or Unsafe?


This post was last modified on October 27, 2020 9:03 am

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