Making sure you get enough vitamins and good stuff when you are pregnant is important for both moms to be and growing baby bumps! 

It can be a bit of a minefield working out which foods will give you a nutrition boost but that is also safe to eat during the important stages of pregnancy. 

Game is a delicious alternative to poultry and is packed full of vitamins and is super lean with a low-calorie content but can you eat game while pregnant? 

Let’s find out the definitive short answer first before we discover more about this nutritious protein source. 

Game is safe to eat during all three trimesters of pregnancy as long as it contains no lead shot and isn’t served raw, ‘rare’, or otherwise undercooked. Those trying for a baby should also avoid lead shot game.  supermarket farmed game is generally safe and not lead shot, but check the labeling. 

Ok so with the mini answer in the bag, so you can understand a little more easily as to whether you can eat game when you are pregnant, let’s first start by discovering what game actually is and which type of meat is classed as game.

What is game? 

With only 120 calories per 100 grams of game meat, it can be a wonderfully nutrition-rich and lean addition to your diet when pregnant. 

This is because game meat comes from animals that are actively hunting and foraging for food.

The energy used in their active lifestyles makes the meat more flavorsome and much leaner in fat than meat from domesticated animals such as beef and chicken. 

Feathered and furred

Game meat essentially falls into two categories, feathered and furred. 

‘Feathered’ covers the meat from farmed or wild birds, whereas ‘furred’ is the food protein mainly from mammals. 

  • Feathered game: Pheasant, grouse, partridge, wood pigeon, wild duck, quail, snipe, and woodcock 
  • Furred game: Rabbits, hare, wild boar, venison (deer meat), elk, caribou, and roebuck deer 

Which animal’s meat is NOT considered game? 

It can be a little tricky trying to work out which meats come under the banner of game, especially when you are supporting a new life! 

So here’s a non-exhaustive list of those animals whose meat is NOT considered to be game. 

Remember, the rule is generally those game animals are considered to be ‘wild’ regardless of whether they live in the wild or whether they are farmed.

It’s interesting to discover that ducks and geese, although often live in the wild, are not classed as game. Duck and geese are protein-rich and packed with vitamins to help provide important nutrition during pregnancy and beyond so are a perfect addition to your pre and post-delivery diet.

  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Guinea-fowl
  • Ducks 
  • Geese 
  • Domestic poultry and other fowl such as chickens

“Game animals are those considered to be ‘wild’ regardless of whether they live naturally in the wild or whether they are farmed.”

Why is game shot with lead unsafe? 

As we saw in our mini answer, game, shot with lead is deemed unsafe for pregnant women. 

According to recent advice from the UK’s Scottish Food Standard Agency explained that lead shot was potentially toxic and was important to cut down on the dietary intake of lead shot game for pregnant women and also those trying for a baby. 

The main reason for this advice is that exposure to lead could damage a baby’s developing brain and nervous system.

Game shot with copper or crossbow is safe for pregnant women 

So if you are buying wild game perhaps from a butcher in the U.K. or a gift from a gamesman, make sure you check first if the game was lead shot. 

Some game is copper shot or with a crossbow and doesn’t have the dangers associated with lead so is safe to eat if you are pregnant or trying for a baby.  

However, it’s worth understanding that these game animals haven’t been checked for disease so our advice here at helptomoms is to avoid any kind of wild game and opt for the safer but still healthy and nutritious supermarket farmed game. 

In general ‘wild’ game is not for sale in supermarkets and also many butchers in the U.K. Here in the  US selling any wild game is illegal. The only game which is legally sold to consumers conforms to USDA regulations.

However, game produced for your own consumption is perfectly legal. 

Is store game safe to eat when pregnant? 

Buying your game in a store means in general you won’t come across any toxic lead shot which could harm you and your developing baby. 

The reason for this is that most farmed game is not shot with toxic lead which might damage your baby’s growing brain and other organs. 

Why is game good to eat when pregnant? 

Supporting your unborn baby to grow and develop well by eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet is crucial. 

Game is rich in many nutrients and as we discovered earlier is one of the leanest meats. 

Making sure you continue to eat healthily and not fall for the old adage of ‘eating for two’ means you can enjoy a healthy helping of tasty well cooked game as part of your eating plan throughout all trimesters. 

Game has no additives added 

Many moms-to-be want to know the foods in their daily diet to support their growing baby is as natural and healthy as possible. 

Many packaged meat from domestic animals such as beef, pork, and chicken has many additives included which increase its shelf life and improve the appearance of the meat, along with other nasties such as antibiotics and other growth hormones.

In general, game is free from these kinds of artificial additives. Make sure you check the labeling to make sure. 

Game is a rich source of nutrients during pregnancy 

Keeping your calorie intake stable is important when pregnant and although it’s, of course, important to consume enough calories, foods lower in fat will help you to remain a healthy body weight both during pregnancy and after the arrival of your baby. 

  • Game is low in fat: Venison, rabbit, pheasant, and partridge are all low in fat. Venison is incredibly low in fat. In general, it only contains around 1% fat, rather than 10 to 11% in lamb or beef. Pheasant, pigeon, and partridge all have less fat pound for pound than chicken or farmed duck. 
  • High levels of iron: Game such as venison, rabbit, and furred game birds such as pheasant and partridge are all high in iron, which is important during pregnancy, especially the first and third trimester. One serving of venison contains about a third of recommended daily iron recommendations during pregnancy which is important to keep you and your growing baby’s teeth and bones supported. 
  • Packed full of vitamins: Many of the popular game meats such as venison and rabbit are full of B vitamins, including B6 and B12, which help support a healthy pregnancy. B6 deficiency is sometimes the culprit for morning sickness. So upping your intake of B6-rich foods can help. 

How should I cook game when I’m pregnant? 

Making sure you cook foods properly when carrying a new life is important to both you and your baby’s health. 

In addition to eating healthy foods, you also need to pay attention to how you cook and serve foods while you’re pregnant. 

Make sure any game meat you eat is served piping hot, cooked well through, and not rare or undercooked in any way. 

And to finish on…

So we hope you now have the definitive answer as to whether you can enjoy game such as venison, partridge, rabbit, pheasant, and more when you are pregnant! 

This protein-rich meat can be part of a healthy diet as long as you stick to game from a store that has been farmed and checked for potential diseases which might cause a risk to the health of you and your growing baby. 

However, if you have a gamekeeper friend and you are eating a wild game, make sure the game contains no lead shot.  

For more advice on what is safe to eat when pregnant, don’t forget to check out our other helpful articles!