Oysters While Breastfeeding
For breastfeeding moms, nutrition is more important than ever. To support a healthy milk supply, you need more calories, more protein and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Oysters can be a great source of all these things, but can you eat oysters while breastfeeding? Is it safe to eat them while breastfeeding?
The answer may surprise you. First, let’s look at the health benefits of oysters and then dive into whether it’s safe to eat them while breastfeeding your baby.
Oysters’ Health Benefits
Many nutritionists consider oysters a superfood because they are nutritional powerhouses. A small serving of six oysters is all you need to realize the many benefits of this shellfish.
Here are some of the top health benefits of oysters.
Low in Calories
Oysters are surprisingly low in calories. Six medium-sized oysters are less than 50 calories, whether they’re steamed, raw or wild.
High in Protein
Along with being low in calories, oysters are high in protein. Protein-rich foods can help you feel fuller for longer and help your body build lean muscle mass.
A serving of just six oysters will give you 12g of protein, which is equivalent to two ounces of meat. Because they’re so low in calories, you can easily eat a dozen and get a whopping 24 grams of protein in just 100 calories. However, the general recommended serving is six oysters, which counts as one of your 2-3 servings of seafood each week.
Oysters are an excellent source of several key nutrients that aren’t easy to get from other foods, like:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- All 9 amino acids
All of these nutrients work together to help support heart health, your immune system and even your blood flow.
Zinc is especially important for immune health, and oysters happen to be the top food source for zinc.
Rich in a Rare Antioxidant
Oysters contain an antioxidant that has only been recently discovered: DHMBA. This phenolic compound has potent antioxidant effects.
One test-tube study found that the DHMBA found in oysters protected liver cells against damage and death caused by oxidative stress.
More research is needed on DHMBA, but the results are promising.
With so many benefits, it’s no wonder breastfeeding moms ask whether it’s safe to eat oysters while breastfeeding.
Oysters And Breastfeeding
Many people consider oysters a super food. But can you eat them while breastfeeding? Do they affect your breastmilk? Does it matter how the oysters are processed? Let’s take a closer look at oysters and breastfeeding.
Can You Eat Oysters While Breastfeeding?
As a breastfeeding mom, you’re cautious about what you eat because you know it can affect your baby. For example, you may have avoided shellfish (which includes oysters) during pregnancy out of an abundance of caution and you’re worried that you still need to refrain while you’re breastfeeding.
However, in most cases, eating some shellfish is okay while breastfeeding. To be on the safe side, it’s best to stick to cooked oysters.
Talk to your doctor before adding oysters to your diet. Unless medically necessary, there’s no need to avoid oysters while breastfeeding. However, your doctor may have recommendations on how much to eat or how to prepare your oysters.
Can you eat oysters while breastfeeding? Yes, but there may be some risks to consider, too.
Risks Of Eating Oysters While Breastfeeding
Although it’s considered to be generally safe to eat oysters while breastfeeding, there are still risks. Your doctor may advise against eating foods with common allergies, especially if you have a history of allergies.
Proteins in shellfish may trigger allergy symptoms in your baby.
If you do eat oysters, keep a watchful eye on your baby. Fussiness, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, hives, bloating and diarrhea are all signs of an allergic reaction.
Another big concern with eating seafood while breastfeeding is mercury. Fortunately, oysters are relatively low in mercury compared to other types of seafood. Still, it’s important not to overdo it, as they still contain some mercury.
Do Oysters Affect Breast Milk?
All foods have the potential to pass through your breast milk, and typically, this process takes 4-6 hours. This means that the proteins in shellfish can pass through your milk, and this can cause an allergic reaction in some babies.
Just keep an eye on your baby if you’ve recently eaten oysters. If your baby does show signs of an allergic reaction, contact your doctor right away and avoid eating shellfish while you breastfeed.
Is Oyster Good for Breastfeeding?
As long as your baby shows no signs of allergic reaction and they are adequately prepared, oysters can be good for breastfeeding. But just to be on the safe side, make sure that you talk to your doctor first to make sure that it’s okay for you to eat oysters while you’re breastfeeding.
Oysters are protein- and nutrient-rich, which can help support breast milk production.
- You need an additional 25g of protein each day while breastfeeding to ensure a steady milk supply and provide your baby with essential nutrients for growth.
- Oysters are rich in zinc, which is essential for infant growth, cognitive development and immune function.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development.
Oysters contain nutrients that are essential to your and your baby’s health as well as breast milk production.
As long as it’s safe for you to do so, oysters can be a beneficial addition to your diet while breastfeeding.
Can You Eat Cooked Oysters While Breastfeeding?
Yes, you can eat cooked oysters while breastfeeding as long as you and your baby are not allergic. However, it’s important to make sure that the oysters are properly cooked.
Here’s what the FDA suggests:
- Shucked oysters should be: boiled for 3 minutes; baked at 450°F for 10 minutes; or fried in oil at 375°F for 10 minutes.
- Oysters in the shell should be: steamed for 4-9 minutes; or boiled for 3-5 minutes after they open.
If you’re grilling shucked oysters, aim for 5-6 minutes on a hot, preheated grill. The edges of the oysters should curl slightly.
Shelled oysters should pop open when you cook them, so discard any that don’t while cooking.
There are so many ways to add cooked oysters to your diet.
- Add to pasta dishes. They pair well with creamy sauces or a splash of lemon.
- Add to seafood stews and soups.
- Top with fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables on the side.
Oysters tend to take on the flavor of whatever sauce or dressing they’re cooked in, so if you’re not a fan of the flavor of plain oysters, try incorporating them into a flavorful dish.
Can You Eat Smoked Oysters While Breastfeeding?
Yes, you can eat smoked oysters while you’re breastfeeding. In fact, canned smoked oysters are a quick and easy way to add more protein and nutrients to your diet while breastfeeding.
Just make sure that you limit your consumption to just 2-3 times per week. This is the recommended intake for all low-mercury seafood.
Can You Eat Steamed Oysters While Breastfeeding?
If they’re steamed, can you eat oysters while breastfeeding?
Yes, you can also eat steamed oysters while breastfeeding. Of all the ways to cook oysters, steaming is one of the healthiest choices because it keeps their natural juices intact and doesn’t add unnecessary calories or fat.
When steaming oysters, aim to cook for:
- 4-9 minutes for shelled oysters (once they’ve popped open)
- 5-6 minutes for shucked oysters
To steam oysters properly, you’ll need a steamer pot. To steam thoroughly, make sure that your oysters reach an internal temperature of 145°F for 15 seconds.
Safe Seafood While Breastfeeding
Oysters may be considered generally safe to eat while breastfeeding, but what about other seafood? Some types are safer than others.
The biggest concern when eating any type of seafood while breastfeeding is its mercury content.
Mercury can pass through your breast milk, albeit in small amounts. Mercury exposure can affect your baby’s nervous system and brain development, so it’s important to avoid eating any fish that are high in mercury, such as:
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Chilean sea bass
In general, it’s best to eat a variety of fish and to stick to those that are low in mercury content. Some of the best choices include:
- Atlantic croaker
- Black sea bass
- Atlantic mackerel
- Pacific chub mackerel
For mothers who are breastfeeding, experts recommend eating:
- 2-3, four-ounce servings per week of the fish listed above.
Ideally, the fish should be cooked in a healthy way, such as grilled, baked, poached or broiled.
Oysters can be a beneficial addition to your diet while breastfeeding as long as you and your baby don’t show any signs of an allergic reaction. Along with being low in mercury, oysters are rich in protein and vital nutrients that you and your baby need for healthy milk production and growth. Cooked oysters are the ideal choice because cooking kills the bacteria that can cause illness.