The Danger of Taking Fish Oil During Pregnancy

Amy Kuras

fishBack in 2007, when I was pregnant with my second child, I decided to take fish oil capsules throughout my pregnancy. People whose opinions I respect were talking about them, and their Omega 3 fatty acids, as wonder pills, promising no postpartum depression, a baby that sleeps better because their brain is more mature, and rainbows and unicorn rides.

Then came reality. I'd scheduled a c-section after my first birth got very, very scary very quickly, so a nurse from the hospital called me a week or so ahead of time to walk me through everything. When she asked what medications I was taking, I dutifully told her about the fish oil.

"Did your doctor tell you to take that?"

Uh ... no.

"Then why are you taking it?"

I started yammering about PPD and babies that sleep better, but she cut me off.

"Stop taking that right now. You should have stopped taking it a week ago. It can cause bleeding problems, but we'll just have to hope for the best."

Hollllyyy schnikies. Of course, in my late-pregnancy hormonal state, I promptly convinced myself I was going to bleed out during the surgery, leaving my innocent daughter motherless, and never getting to meet my new baby, who my poor husband would have to raise alone! All alone!

Needless to say, I'm still here (and actually bled less after my son was born than I had the first time). Still, I was unsurprised when the latest study came out that said fish oil actually doesn't help babies sleep better or their brains to mature faster, nor does it help moms avoid PPD. But it can help moms avoid pre-term delivery.

Here's why: I had PPD worse than I did the first time around. The kid didn't sleep through the night until he was 15 months old and remains a difficult sleeper. He is incredibly sweet-natured and brilliant, but then I might not be the most objective observer on that score.

That said, though, I still take fish oil and nag my husband to do the same, because it does have some benefits for high cholesterol and possibly might prevent Alzheimer's. I don't think it's doing any harm as I have no plans to have surgery anytime soon, and who knows, it might help. Right?


Image via Rand Pederson/Flickr

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