You’ve got your prenatal vitamins and a soothing Mozart playlist queued up on Spotify – now it’s time to dig into a plate, bowl, or roll of salmon!

This delicious superfood delivers when it comes to boosting the health of both pregnant and nursing mothers, along with their little ones. An excellent source of protein, salmon really packs in the amino acids, which are the cellular building blocks that your baby needs to grow.

How much salmon should you eat? The Seafood Nutrition Partnership recommends that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding enjoy 8-12 ounces (which is at least 2 servings) per week. For adults, a typical serving size is 4-6 ounces of fish (measured before cooking), which is about the size and thickness of your palm.

Beyond tasting incredible, eating a nutrient-dense fish like salmon 2-3 times a week is beneficial in other ways too. For one, research has found that for expectant mothers it can actually help your baby reach developmental milestones more quickly, such as imitating speech, recognizing family, and crawling around your home.  

A Salmon Power Bowl

Read on for six more amazing benefits to filling your plate with salmon!

1. Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse for all mothers.

High in protein (an essential for muscle growth and repair), this fish is also abundant in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – two types of omega-3 fatty acids that each boast unique benefits. EPA supports inflammatory response, the immune system, and heart health, which is especially needed given the stresses that new motherhood can bring. Pregnant and lactating mothers also benefit from DHA, which supports the central nervous system, the eyes, and brain. In addition, salmon serves as an excellent source of vitamin B12 (which makes DNA and keeps your blood and nerve cells in tip-top shape), as well as natural vitamin D – a nutrient that many women are deficient in.

2. Salmon boosts your baby’s brain health.

Did you know about half of the human brain is made of omega-3 fats? Since our bodies cannot make omega-3s like DHA on our own, it’s critical that we eat seafood regularly, which is one of the only natural dietary sources. By enjoying salmon (which provides 480-960% of the recommended weekly amount of EPA/DHA per week in a single serving alone), pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can help their babies’ brains develop to their best potential – infants who get the omegas they need have been proven to have higher IQs!

3. Salmon supports your baby’s vision development.

DHA is also critical for proper eye development. A study from the Child and Family Research Institute found that the babies of mothers who were deficient in DHA did not perform as well on eye tests as the babies of women who had an ample intake of this essential nutrient.

A pregnant mother

4. Salmon helps your baby get the best sleep.

Both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers benefit from eating seafood rich in omega-3s, which has been shown to promote quieter, less active sleep in their little ones. And when a baby gets good sleep, so does the mother!

5. Salmon has a role in preventing premature birth.

Premature delivery is a critical health issue around the world – 15 million babies are estimated to be born too early each year. While most pregnancies last between an average of 38 and 42 weeks, premature babies are delivered before 37 weeks and suffer greater health risks. A recent study, however, found that eating foods high in omega-3s can support longer gestations and prevent premature births.

6. Salmon helps ward off postpartum depression.

15% - 25% of women are estimated to struggle with anxiety, the baby blues, or postpartum depression. The good news is that research has shown that omega-3s found in fish oil can help prevent the symptoms of mental health complications during or post-pregnancy.

Now that you know the benefits of eating salmon for you and your baby, try steaming it in parchment paper for a super easy AND tasty dinner!

Salmon In Parchment Paper (En Papillote)