Pregnancy is a time when your food cravings can be crazy! Except for a few restrictions, it is safe to enjoy most foods when you are pregnant. However, one food category that tends to create confusion and worry among pregnant women is seafood. If you are pregnant, we are sure you are wondering about one seafood in particular: the crustacean, crawfish, or crayfish.
We have some news for you! If you love crawfish, then be rest assured—you don’t need to put this delicious crustacean on the “no-no” list. You can safely eat fully cooked crawfish while you are pregnant. According to experts, a pregnant woman can consume eight to twelve ounces of low-mercury seafood per week, and this includes crawfish. However, there are a few kinds of seafood, especially those which are raw or undercooked, that you might have to avoid during pregnancy. Today, we will discuss everything you need to know about crawfish and the seafood you need to avoid during pregnancy to make this journey of yours slightly easier!
Mercury Levels In Crawfish
The reason seafood is a concern when it comes to pregnant women is because of the mercury present in it. High levels of mercury, when accumulated and present in the bloodstream, can affect an unborn baby’s developing brain and nervous system. That’s why pregnant women need to keep an eye on their mercury intake, especially when it comes from seafood.
The good news is that crawfish is low in mercury, around 0.033 parts per million per the FDA. That is a considerably low level of mercury. Any seafood with up to 0.1 parts per million is considered low in mercury and by that standard, eating crawfish when completely cooked is okay when you are pregnant.
Keep in mind to only bring home or eat crawfish produced locally and avoid imported crawfish. Whether it is farmed or wild, crawfish that come from the USA are known to be very low in mercury. Also, the United States is the biggest producer of crawfish. You will find imported crawfish on the market sometimes, and their levels of mercury are listed as “unknown.” It would be best to stick to USA-sourced crawfish when you are pregnant.
If you are a fan of these crustaceans, then go ahead and enjoy them without worry, but make sure they are fully cooked. A crawfish etouffee or crawfish boil is simply delicious!
Crawfish Mercury Math
While we have established that you can eat crawfish while pregnant, we are sure you still have questions about how much is okay. How do you calculate a safe amount to eat when you are enjoying a good crawfish bisque?
Don’t worry; we have decoded the crawfish mercury math for you here, and you can keep this handy through the next nine months.
You can eat eight to twelve ounces of low-mercury seafood per week, and that can include a wide variety that is safe to consume during pregnancy. However, if you are in a stage where you are only craving this delicious crustacean, then that’s fine.
The sizes of crawfish vary considerably so it can be hard to have a precise measurement of what twelve ounces of crawfish looks like, but it is around 240 grams or 0.75 pounds of crawfish meat (shelled). Here is a rough guide that will help you out so that you don’t have to weigh your crawfish meal every time!
- If you live in the UK or Europe, then the ready-peeled crayfish tails that you get in the supermarket usually come in one serving tray between 80 and 120 grams. In terms of those serving trays, twelve ounces is around three to four crawfish tails.
- If you are in the USA, then you usually get ready-peeled crawfish meat in sealed plastic pouches, and those are anywhere between twelve ounces and one pound.
- When opting for whole crawfish and not the peeled tails, suppose you are craving a crawfish boil. Remember that what you eventually get as claw meat is only 15% of the size. So if your crawfish is around six or seven pounds, then you will get only twelve ounces of crawfish meat.
You might think that is a whole lot of math to do to eat crawfish, but when those cravings hit during pregnancy, you will be ready to do anything to satisfy them. Plus, with our guide above, you should be able to enjoy your crawfish with ease.
Can I Eat Crawfish During My First Trimester?
Yes, you can eat crawfish during your first trimester as long as the crawfish is cooked properly. However, if you are suffering from morning sickness, it’s possible that crawfish can make it worse.
Sometimes crustaceans can make people nauseous and if you are already suffering from morning sickness in your first trimester during the rush of hormones, it’s possible that this feeling of nausea or vomiting can be alleviated by eating crawfish.
If you are a crawfish lover and have never had issues consuming this crustacean, it’s possible that it won’t make your morning sickness worse. Sometimes, when you are craving a certain food during pregnancy, eating it can help with morning sickness and make you feel better.
If you are craving crawfish, then you will be happy to know that it is a healthy and nutrient-dense food that is great to consume during pregnancy. It is a lean protein that is low in fat as well as saturated fats and a great way to include iron, selenium, niacin, copper, and even small amounts of vitamins A and C into your diet.
The only thing to remember when pregnant women eat crawfish is to make sure to cook it properly to avoid food poisoning or any kind of bacterial infection.
Does Eating Crawfish Cause Nausea During Pregnancy?
If you are suffering from morning sickness, sometimes seafood like crawfish can make your nausea worse. It varies from pregnancy to pregnancy.
Some women crave crawfish while pregnant and love indulging in this delicious crustacean, while those who are experiencing morning sickness throughout the day might find even the thought of eating seafood or crawfish extremely nauseating.
Apart from that, if the crawfish hasn’t been cooked properly, then it could lead to nausea during pregnancy and sometimes even food poisoning. That’s why it is very important to make sure that you cook the crawfish properly before eating.
How To Safely Cook Crawfish At Home
Now that we have established that pregnant women can eat crawfish and you also know the mercury math behind it, let’s talk about how you can safely prepare this seafood at home. This will help you enjoy your seafood and maintain a healthy pregnancy diet.
- Food Hygiene
We are sure you maintain a clean kitchen, but when you are pregnant, it is best to be extra careful. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before you start cooking. Always use a separate chopping board and utensils when you are handling raw crawfish or seafood.
Once your crawfish is prepped, make sure to wash your hands, the chopping board, utensils, and everything that comes in contact with the raw crawfish or any other seafood you are cooking. This prevents the bacteria from the raw fish from spreading around your kitchen and reduces the chances of infection.
- Fully Cooked Crawfish
Accidentally eating undercooked seafood can lead to vomiting or food poisoning and can be particularly harmful during pregnancy, when your immune system is weaker. No matter how you are cooking crawfish—boiling, frying, or steaming— it is important to check the temperature. Use a cooking thermometer and make sure you cook your crawfish until the internal temperature is at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius.
What Seafood Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
Now that you know that crawfish and pregnancy can go hand-in-hand, let’s also talk about all the seafood that you can eat and not eat during pregnancy.
There is a long list of seafood that is low in mercury and is safe and nutritious for women to enjoy during pregnancy. Here are some of them:
- Freshwater trout
Shrimp, crab, and lobster are all crustaceans so you can also eat them when you are pregnant. Avoid any raw fish or undercooked fish and limit yourself to twelve ounces of seafood per week.
Along with these nutrient-rich fish, there are some seafoods that you need to avoid when you are pregnant because of high mercury levels. Some of them are:
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
Now that you have the list of seafood you can enjoy and the ones you need to avoid, make sure to keep it handy. What pregnant women eat makes a huge difference to the development of the baby. Make sure that you are eating healthy foods to keep you and the baby safe at all times.
Pregnancy and Food – Final Words
You may have a complex relationship with food during pregnancy, with all the cravings, morning sickness, and nausea. If you are wondering if you can eat crawfish while pregnant, the answer is yes. You can eat crawfish while pregnant if it is fully cooked. Low-mercury fish are safe to consume during those nine months and, when properly cooked, are a nutrient-rich food.
Based on your pregnancy and your health, follow the recommended dietary guidelines and your doctor’s recommendations. As long as you don’t have a shellfish allergy, go ahead and enjoy crustaceans without worry.