We’re taught that seafood can be an important part of a balanced and healthy diet.

High in Omega-3 fatty acids which aid brain development, fish is a great source of high quality protein.

Here’s where it gets downright confusing. How do you know which fish are safe during pregnancy? And why exactly does it matter? Much of it boils down to methylmercury, a metal that is formed in aquatic systems and gets concentrated as you go up the food chain from bacteria to plankton to fish.

Methylmercury is a concern because it can build up in our bodies over time and pass from your blood into that of your unborn child.

Several studies link high methylmercury levels during pregnancy with subtle developmental deficits in children such as loss of IQ points, attention deficits, and decreased performance on tests of language skills and memory function.

(Paying attention to mercury levels is also important for breastfeeding moms and young children.)


Also, since it takes a while for it to get eliminated from our bodies, it’s important to take precautions with fish consumption even before you get pregnant. It can take up to a year for high methylmercury levels to reach a normal range in humans.

Here’s the Bottom Line:

In general, fish-eating fish such as marlin, swordfish, shark and larger species of tuna (such as yellowfin or ahi), and largemouth bass have higher levels of mercury than herbivorous or smaller fish such as tilapia and herring. ?These large fish should be avoided completely.

It’s considered ok to eat 12 ounces (about 2 average meals) per week of cooked low mercury fish and shellfish. My 5 favorite low mercury choices are shrimp, salmon, catfish, pollock, and canned light tuna. Albacore or “white tuna” has more methylmercury than canned light tuna so if you opt for that, try not to exceed 6 oz per week.

Read more at the FDA on fish safety for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as young children.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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