Can I Eat Lobster While Pregnant?

Grilled lobster with corn and asparagus

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Many people have a lot of questions about what might change during pregnancy. From riding bikes to highlighting your hair to eating sushi, there are some things that temporarily change, in the name of safety during pregnancy. This can feel especially true when it comes to what you can put on your dinner plate.

Lobster is the ultimate in luxury eating, so you might think that it’s going to be off-limits alongside wine, deli meats, and soft cheeses. However, this delectable seafood is safe for pregnancy encouraged by healthcare providers and dietitians—as long as safety precautions are followed. Discover more about how to safely eat lobster during pregnancy.

Eating Lobster During Pregnancy

In addition to being delicious, lobster is packed with a range of nutrients that are recommended for prenatal diets, says Christine Naze, RD, CDE, a clinical dietitian at the Oregon Health Sciences University Center for Women’s Health in Portland, Oregon.

Lobster is a low mercury seafood option, so the primary safety concern is to make sure it is stored and prepared properly as well as fully cooked, advises Naze. This applies to both fresh and frozen lobster eaten at home or in a restaurant.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about eating lobster while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

Cooked lobster is safe to eat throughout pregnancy for both the expecting parent and baby, says Diana E. Ramos, an OBGYN and adjunct associate professor at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, California.

Benefits of Eating Lobster During Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend continued seafood consumption during pregnancy. Lobster, specifically, is on the U.S, Food and Drug Administration's list of "Best Choices" for seafood consumption during pregnancy because it contains low levels of mercury and offers nutritional benefits.

"In general, fish and shellfish are good sources of protein, omega 3-fatty acids, and vitamins," says Dr. Ramos. Additionally, lobster contains copper, selenium zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

Safety Precautions

Lobster can be enjoyed during pregnancy. However, certain safety guidelines need to be followed to reduce the risk of illness and environmental hazards.

Food Handling

With any seafood, it's important to follow some simple preparation rules. "Basic recommendations include is ensuring proper storage and looking at the expiration date," says Dr. Ramos. Other food safety precautions include making sure that your lobster is cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Additionally, avoid cross-contamination while preparing the lobster, and be sure to keep it at safe temperatures before it's eaten.

As lobster spoils quickly, it is often sold alive and should remain so until it's cooked to ensure freshness. Ideally, cook your lobster the day you buy it. An active lobster is fresher than a lethargic one. Also, the shell should be smooth and not slimy, off-smelling, mossy, or cracked.

Once cooked, the lobster meat should be white, firm (not mushy or slimy), and smell fresh rather than fishy. Lobster can be frozen either precooked or cooked but the quality is not always well preserved, particularly after a long time in the freezer.

Environmental Hazards

Before purchasing your lobster, be sure to look into where it came from. "Understand local fish advisories because there may be pollutants in the water," suggests Dr. Ramos. Essentially, you want to ensure that your lobster (or any other seafood you consume) is harvested from waters that are free of pollutants. You can find this out by asking your fishmonger or restaurant or doing your own research online.

Fish that contain high levels of mercury have been linked with birth defects, says Dr. Ramos. Luckily, lobster is low risk in terms of mercury levels.

Quantity

Another key to safely eating lobster while pregnant is to do so with regard to seafood recommendations, says Dr. Ramos. You should cook lobster until the flesh is pearly or white, and opaque.

"The overall recommendation for fish consumption is 8 to 12 ounces weekly," Dr. Ramos says.

A Word From Verywell

Lobster is safe to enjoy while pregnant. There is a lot of concern around avoiding high mercury fish but this worry does not apply to lobster. So, as long as it is fully cooked, there are great benefits and few risks to eating this delicious type of shellfish during pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns about eating lobster while pregnant, be sure to consult a healthcare provider.

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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Update on seafood consumption during pregnancy. Reaffirmed March 2020.

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Advice about eating fish. Updated December 29, 2020.

  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Lobster, steamed or boiled. Published October 30, 2020.

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely. Updated August 4, 2020.