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What do the Experts Say About Nutrition to Avoid Stillbirth?

healthy pregnancy diet

During pregnancy, having a poor diet lacking in key nutrients may increase the risk of stillbirth. In this article, we discuss what medical experts recommend eating and avoiding to decrease the risk of stillbirth.

In England, around 1 in every 250 pregnancies results in stillbirth. This is something that can be traumatic as well as devastating for expectant parents.

In some cases, many consider making a stillbirth negligence claim, as sometimes these deaths could have been avoidable. Whilst the medical world is still learning when it comes to what causes stillbirth, many experts feel that these tragic events are closely linked to nutrition.

Because of this, we want to hear what the experts say about this. In this article, we’ll shine a spotlight on the diet dos and don’ts for pregnant people, as told by these experts.

What is Stillbirth?

The term ‘stillbirth’ is used to describe the death of a fetus between weeks 20 and 28 of pregnancy. The name is derived from the fact that the baby is usually born without any signs of life and will be declared to be deceased shortly after birth.

In some cases, a stillbirth can occur even when the pregnancy has progressed as normal and, researchers are still battling to understand all the reasons why a stillbirth might occur.

Is There a Link Between Nutrition and Stillbirth?

One thing that many experts agree on is that there is a link between stillbirth and nutrition during pregnancy. In this section, we’ll share experts’ opinions on what pregnant people should and should not be including in their diet in order to limit the risks of stillbirth.

The Nutrition Don’ts to Avoid Stillbirth

Over the decades, experts have revealed a number of foods and diets which may be harmful to the unborn child, and some of these are:

Don’t Overeat

First of all, let’s get one of the biggest pregnancy myths out of the way - ‘eating for two’. During pregnancy, it’s common for a woman to feel more hungry than usual and, whilst it’s normal to perhaps eat a little more, experts say that there is absolutely no need to double the amount of food consumed. This is particularly the case when this includes fatty or unhealthy snacks.

Don’t Eat Foods Which are Linked to Listeriosis

Listeriosis is a bacterial infection that doesn’t present with any obvious symptoms but can be harmful and, at times, fatal in a fetus or newborn infant. Foods that carry a risk of Listeriosis include:

  • Unpasteurized dairy products, also known as ‘raw dairy products’, are pretty easy to avoid as pasteurized products are more widely available.

  • Raw fish, which includes popular items such as smoked salmon.

  • Processed meat, which includes hot dog sausages, cold cuts and other kinds of cooked and cured meats.

  • Imported cheese; many imported soft cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk, including Brie, Feta, Roquefort, Queso ad Camembert.


Whilst eggs are a great source of protein, they can also cause salmonella which can be extremely harmful to a fetus. Although it’s fine to eat eggs during pregnancy, you should always make sure that these are cooked thoroughly.

In addition to this, you should avoid any recipes which call for uncooked or partially cooked eggs, such as carbonara sauce, soft-boiled eggs and Hollandaise and Bearnaise sauces.

Fat and Sugar

When pregnant, many women will often crave fatty foods loaded with sugar. However, these can lead to weight gain and high cholesterol, which may lead to problems with the pregnancy. Expectant women should avoid:

  • Biscuits

  • Chocolate

  • Crisps

  • Butter

  • Cakes

  • Oils

  • Fizzy drinks

Instead, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of replacing these with healthier snacks such as fruit, nuts, and vegetable crudites.


Many people are of the mistaken belief that pates contain only cooked ingredients however, this isn’t always the case. Some pate products contain raw egg and uncooked meats which may be a breeding ground for Listeria. Even vegetable pates can contain raw egg and unpasteurized products, so it’s best to avoid these products altogether during your pregnancy.

Vitamin A

While an amount of Vitamin A is essential for a baby’s development, too much can be harmful. For this reason, you should always avoid any type of Vitamin A supplements, as well as foods that are rich in this vitamin, including liver and liver sausage.


It should go without saying that alcohol and pregnancy do not go together. Consumption of alcohol, in particular at the beginning of a pregnancy, can lead to a number of health problems for the baby, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), low birth weight, miscarriage and stillbirth. Expectant mothers who are struggling with alcohol addiction should always consult their GP to gain advice on minimizing the risk to their baby.

The Nutrition Dos to Avoid Stillbirth

Maintaining a healthy diet is vital while pregnant, and the following are foods that should be an integral part of any pregnant person’s diet:

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Any healthy and balanced diet begins with fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals, fruits and veggies also help with digestion. This is particularly useful for pregnant people who often suffer from heartburn and indigestion.

Ideally, pregnant people should be eating the fabled five portions of fruit and vegetables a day; although for many, this is a pretty big ask. As great as fruit and vegetables are for the health of a fetus, you should always make sure that you wash these thoroughly to limit the risk of bacteria which may lead to conditions such as Listeriosis.


Starchy foods like bread, potatoes and pasta are a great way of satisfying hunger cravings without piling on the calories. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy and fibre. However, pregnant people should avoid eating too many fried carbs such as chips, and instead opt for wholewheat versions.


A brilliant source of energy, as well as being low fat, proteins are an important part of a pregnant person’s diet, and these include:

  • Poultry, such as chicken or turkey.

  • Fish, such as salmon and sardines, however, pregnant people should avoid swordfish, marlin and herring as these can contain pollutants.

  • Pulses, including beans and chickpeas.

  • Eggs.

  • Nuts.

Whilst proteins are a green light for expectant mothers, you should always make sure that eggs, poultry and fish are cooked fully and properly to avoid Listeriosis and Salmonella. Always check that meat and fish are cooked all the way through and that the flesh is not pink or bloody.


In our ‘Don’ts section’, we mentioned that pregnant people should avoid unpasteurized dairy products, however, that doesn’t mean that all dairy is bad. Milk, yogurt, cheese and fromage frais are all packed with calcium, which is great for both mother and baby as it helps to promote healthy teeth and bones. As great as dairy is in pregnancy, it’s a good idea to choose low-fat versions where possible to avoid excessive calories which can lead to weight gain.

Sweet Potatoes

A relative newcomer to the UK diet, sweet potatoes are packed with Beta Carotene which contains vitamins A and D. These are essential for the development of your baby.

If you’re new to sweet potatoes, you may find these odd-looking creatures a little daunting. However, a quick search online will show you that they can be cooked a number of ways and in a number of different recipes. They can even be mashed to replace your avocado on toast in the morning.

Maintaining a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy is Vital

Whilst it may seem like we’ve painted a pretty grim picture when it comes to diet during pregnancy, this is a fairly small sacrifice when it comes to enjoying a healthy pregnancy.

With the current cost of living crisis and, many families surviving on a low income, a lot of pregnant couples have concerns about being able to afford fresh, healthy food during their pregnancy. The Healthy Start Scheme is available to people throughout the United Kingdom and the scheme, which was launched in 2006, aims to promote a healthy diet during pregnancy by providing qualifying pregnant people with vouchers. These vouchers can be used to purchase healthy fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables, milk and bread, as well as supplements and vitamins from local outlets.

As well as maintaining a healthy diet, regular but gentle exercise can help to keep mother and baby healthy during the pregnancy, as can trying to keep stress to an absolute minimum where possible.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.