Can I Eat Mussels While Breastfeeding? The Facts You Need to Know

  • By: Sandra
  • Date: March 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

When it comes to eating seafood while breastfeeding, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there. Can you eat mussels while breastfeeding? What about other types of shellfish? Should you just avoid fish? Can they harm your baby?

We answer all of your questions and set the record straight! We will provide you with the facts you need to know in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to eat seafood while breastfeeding.

Can Mussels Affect Breast Milk?

People who are breastfeeding often wonder if it’s safe to eat mussels and other shellfish, as there is a risk that the food could contain harmful toxins. Mussels themselves are perfectly healthy for you to eat while breastfeeding, but they can be contaminated with toxic substances such as biotoxins and heavy metals 

Eating mussels while breastfeeding should only be done in moderation (1-2 servings per week). To avoid exposure to potentially harmful toxins, choose mussels from local sources that have been tested for contaminants. You can also ask your doctor about taking an algae based supplement like spirulina or chlorella to reduce your risk of exposure to these toxins.

Benefits of Eating Mussels

In general, eating cooked mussels in moderation during nursing is safe. Mussels include

  • Omega-3 fatty acids : These fatty acids help promote healthy brain development in babies and can also improve mood during breastfeeding.
  • Folate: This B vitamin is important for pregnant and nursing women, as it helps to prevent birth defects.
  • Zinc: essential for the development of baby’s immune system and can also help with wound healing.
  • Vitamin A: important for the health of both mother and baby.
  • B6: Can help reduce fatigue.
  • B12: Can help improve energy levels.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): DHA is important for the development of baby’s brain and eyes. It’s recommended that pregnant and nursing women consume at least 200 mg of DHA per day. Mussels are a good source of DHA, providing about 25-30% of the daily requirement for this nutrient.
  • Vitamin E
  • panthoteric acid
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • copper
  • phosphorus.

These vitamins and minerals can aid in the recovery of new moms.

They maintain a normal pulse, reduce blood pressure, and assist blood arteries in functioning properly. Mussels are high in marine Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Mussels and other shellfish are high in protein and contain all of the necessary amino acids. Their protein level is higher than that of finned fish. Because the protein in mussels is easily digestible, the body reaps the maximum benefits.

Protein contributes to your general health by helping to build muscle, improve your immune system, strengthen your bones, and repair injuries. Three ounces of mussels supply 40% of the daily protein requirement for the typical individual.

What seafood can you not eat while breastfeeding?

There are a few types of seafood that you should avoid while breastfeeding. These include:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Bigeye tuna

These fish contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to your baby. Mercury can cross the placental barrier and accumulate in your baby’s developing brain and nervous system.

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommend that pregnant women and nursing mothers avoid eating these fish altogether.

Can breastfeeding mom eat shellfish?

Yes, you can eat shellfish while breastfeeding. However, it’s important to choose shellfish from safe sources and to avoid eating them in large quantities. Shellfish are a good source of protein and omega-fatty acids, which are beneficial for both you and your baby.

Because of their high methylmercury level, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency suggest restricting your consumption of some species of seafood but this does not include mussels.

Are mussels high in mercury?

No, mussels are not high in mercury. However, some shellfish can be contaminated with harmful toxins such as biotoxins and heavy metals. It’s important to choose shellfish from safe sources and to avoid eating them in large quantities.

Low-mercury seafood options include salmon, tilapia, catfish, sardines, canned light tuna, shrimp, scallops, crab, squid, lobster, and clams, among others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid eating high-mercury fish and other certain foods but mussels are fine.

Will Mussels Increase Breast Milk Supply?

There is no evidence that eating mussels will increase your breast milk supply or increase milk production. However, shellfish are a good source of protein and omega- fatty acids, which are beneficial for both you and your baby.

Mussels are a great source of iron which is vital for breastfeeding mothers, and they are also high in B12. It is low in saturated fat and you should eat fish as part of a healthy diet. It is a low mercury fish so very safe to eat.

If you are having issues producing enough milk then speak to a medical professional or a lactaction consultant. There are other foods that may help like chia seeds, yogurt for nursing moms, and lactaction drinks which may help like oat milk which increases milk supply and coconut water which boosts milk production.

Do Mussels cause gas in breastfed babies?

No, it is not thought that mussels cause gas in breastfed babies.

When Not To Eat Mussels

It’s not advisable for breastfeeding moms to consume raw mussels. Raw mussels are popular among certain individuals, but they can be dangerous to those who are sensitive to pollutants. Those suffering from cancer, liver illness, diabetes, immune system abnormalities, or digestive issues should only consume mussels that have been completely cooked.

If you have any food allergies or a family history of food allergies then you avoid trying mussels if you have not eaten them before. Also, when introducing new foods into your diet it is important to note any symptoms of food allergy in your baby for the next few days. If baby shows any severe symptoms of allergy seek immediate medical attention.

How to Cook Mussels

When cooking mussels, it is important to discard any that do not close when tapped as these might cause food poisoning. You can tell if a mussel is cooked by checking to see if the shell has opened up. If it hasn’t, then the mussel is likely still raw and should be discarded .

Here is a recipe for steamed mussels:

Ingredients:

– Mussels, scrubbed and debearded

– Olive oil

– Garlic cloves, thinly sliced

– Fresh thyme leaves

– Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the mussels and toss to coat with the herbs.

Cover the pot and steam until the mussels have opened, about five minutes. Discard any that haven’t opened. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over top. Enjoy!

The Low Down

In conclusion, mussels are safe to eat while breastfeeding as long as they are sourced from clean waters and consumed in moderation. They provide many health benefits for both mom and baby, including protein, omega- fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, nutrients like DHA are vital for the development of your baby’s nervous system, brain, and eyes when delivered to your infant through breast milk.

Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before consuming any type of seafood while breastfeeding to ensure that you are getting the most benefit from these foods while also keeping your baby safe.