Can I Eat Ceviche While Breastfeeding? The Truth About Seafood and Lactation

  • By: Katie
  • Date: April 9, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

For years, breastfeeding mothers have been warned against eating seafood. The belief was that consuming fish and other types of seafood would harm their babies and cause them to develop health problems.

But is this really true? Can you eat ceviche while breastfeeding? In this blog post, we will explore the truth about seafood and lactation. We will look at the nutritional benefits of fish and other types of seafood, as well as the potential risks associated with consuming these foods while breastfeeding.

What is Ceviche?

Ceviche is a seafood dish that originated in Peru. The traditional recipe calls for fresh fish that is marinated in lime juice and spiced with cilantro, onions, and chili peppers. The acid in the lime juice “cooks” the fish, giving it a firm texture and a slightly pink color.

Ceviche is typically served with tortilla chips or crackers as an appetizer or main dish.

Shrimp ceviche is a similar dish, except shrimp is used instead of fish. 

Is Ceviche Cooked or Raw?

Cooking requires heat. So by definition, ceviche is not cooked. It is marinated in citrus juice which cooks the fish through the chemical process called denaturation.

Is Ceviche Safe While Breastfeeding?

There are conflicting opinions on whether ceviche is safe to eat during pregnancy and lactation. Some experts believe that the acid in the citrus juice “cooks” the fish, making it safe to eat. However, others believe that there is a risk of contamination, even if the fish is cooked in acid.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid eating raw fish because of the risk of contamination with bacteria and parasites. However, cooked fish is considered safe to eat during pregnancy and lactation.

The bottom line is that it is up to each individual woman to decide whether or not she feels comfortable eating ceviche while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re a new mom and just had a baby, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid raw fish altogether and stick to cooked foods until you can safely enjoy these seafood products.

Fish used in ceviche is usually low in saturated fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the development of a baby’s nervous system.

Vitamin D is also found in fish and is important for bone health.

What Are the Concerns and Risks of Eating Ceviche While Breastfeeding?

There are a few key concerns and risks to be aware of when it comes to eating ceviche while breastfeeding.

One is food poisoning. Ceviche is often made with raw fish, which can contain harmful bacteria that can lead to food-related poisoning. This is dangerous to both breastfeeding moms and pregnant woman.

Another concern is mercury exposure. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can be found in seafood. When mercury is ingested, it can build up in the body and cause health problems.

Cross-contamination of other pollutants and listeria infection can occur when raw fish and shellfish are not handled properly, which can lead to foodborne illness. While most cases of foodborne illness are not serious, they can be if you have a weakened immune system.

Does Eating Ceviche Affect Breast Milk?

Ceviche has no effect on the quality of breast milk. Bacteria found in raw fish that could cause food poisoning don’t pass through breast milk. However, being sick longer affects your ability to breastfeed your baby.

In terms of breast milk supply, ceviche has no effect either.

Conclusion

Eating ceviche while breastfeeding is a personal decision. There are some risks associated with consuming raw fish, but the benefits of eating this type of seafood often outweigh the potential dangers.

FAQ

Can You Eat Raw Seafood While Breastfeeding?

Yes, but breastfeeding women have to be very careful with eating raw seafood especially if they are breastfeeding.

It’s recommended that women who are breastfeeding avoid fish and other foods with high mercury levels. King mackerel, freshwater fish, and albacore tuna are just a few of these fish. Of course, there are other fish to avoid but these are the most common ones you can buy.

The Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that these types of fish should be avoided altogether when pregnant or breastfeeding because they can cause health conditions.

However, other seafood options are considered safe for consumption in moderation.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are often told to not eat fish because of the mercury levels. However, not all fish are created equal. There are low mercury fish that are perfectly fine to eat while breastfeeding. These include canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Can Babies Eat Ceviche?

No, they cannot because this particular dish is not considered kid-friendly. A baby should be eating properly cooked fish, not raw ones.

Ceviche is a dish made of raw fish that is marinated in citrus juice. The acid in the citrus juice “cooks” the seafood, but it does not kill all of the bacteria and parasites that can be found in uncooked seafood.

These harmful organisms can cause food poisoning in a baby, which can be very serious. So eating fish that is not prepared properly is not advisable for your baby.

Wait until your baby is old enough to eat raw fish before adding ceviche and uncooked sushi to her diet. 

How Can I Enjoy Eating Sushi While Breastfeeding?

This isn’t as straight forward as it seems so read our guide to eating sushi when breastfeeding. Vegetarian sushi options are available at some reputable restaurants for those who want to eat sushi but are worried about eating raw fish.

For example, many sushi restaurants offer vegetable maki rolls. Some of these contain pickled daikon, which is a good source of probiotics. Probiotics are important for the development of the baby’s immune system.

Another option for vegetarian sushi is to order nigiri sushi without the fish. The rice and other toppings will still be delicious.

Finally, some restaurants offer vegetarian sushi made with tofu. This is a good option for those who are looking for a protein-rich meal.

What Are the Risks of Eating High Mercury Fish in Pregnant Women?

Mercury is a toxic metal that can be found in some types of fish. When pregnant women eat fish that contain high levels of mercury, it can pass to the developing baby and can directly affect the brain and nervous system.

Pregnant women should avoid eating fish with high mercury levels to protect their baby’s nervous system.

Is It Safe to Eat Shrimp Cooked in Lime?

The short answer is yes. However, there are a few food safety concerns that you should be aware of.

When cooking shrimp (or any food), it is important to use fresh ingredients. Shrimp that has been sitting out for a long time or that have been frozen and thawed multiple times are more likely to harbor bacteria that can cause food poisoning.