The American Pregnancy Association recommends avoiding sushi during pregnancy because of the chance of bacteria in the raw meat, and also because of mercury content in certain types of fish.
I understand the concern, and at first, I followed this rule. Later, I tried to get creative and ordered baked sushi, but I hated that too.
But then my common sense asked, don’t women in Japan eat sushi all the time during pregnancy? And with some research I discovered that yes, they do — and they think Americans are crazy not to.
As a matter of fact, in the course of my research I discovered that the type of food-borne illnesses to worry about during pregnancy (toxoplasma, listeria, and salmonella) are not considered to even be a high risk with raw sushi, as long as the food is handled properly and from a reputable location.
I’ve been eating at my sushi restaurant (an expensive, local place) weekly for years now and have never been sick. I live inland, so the fish I'm eating has been flash-frozen before it arrives here. The chance of me getting food poisoning is very low.
Still, I totally get that this is enough to scare some women into not touching sushi for nine months, and I respect that.
What I Did Instead: Once I had all of this information, I weighed the pros and cons: a tiny chance of food poisoning vs. the awesome health benefits of fresh salmon, avocado, crab, cucumber for both me and my baby?
For me, it was an easy choice. So every two weeks, I allowed myself an all-salmon raw sushi dish from my favorite restaurant — and I unapologetically enjoyed it.
As for the mercury, I did decide to avoid tuna and other large game fish that can have higher levels, like swordfish, tilefish, mackerel, and shark.