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Stay Healthy During Pregnancy - For You and Your Baby

Stay Healthy During Pregnancy - For You and Your Baby

One of the residual effects of health-related events these past few years is a heightened awareness of preventing illness. People are more willing to wash their hands frequently, maintain social distance and wear masks in crowded indoor spaces. Dr. Stacey Barrie an obstetrician with Washington Township Medical Foundation reminds her patients of things to do to remain healthy during pregnancy. She explains, “It’s important to remember that pregnant women are at special risk because their immune systems are depleted during pregnancy, making them more susceptible to infections.”

Good prenatal care is critical to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Dr. Barrie encourages women to make their first visit three to four weeks after their first missed period. She explains the preferred appointment schedule. “We see patients monthly until 30 weeks, every two weeks from 30 to 36 weeks, and then weekly for the last month,” she adds. “We monitor how the pregnancy is progressing, check vital signs, and conduct screenings that protect the health of both the mother and the baby.”

February is Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, held to raise awareness about the risk of bacterial and viral diseases that can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or the delivery process.

“Every patient is offered a variety of screening tests to detect infections and other serious complications,” Dr. Barrie explains. “We test for diseases like chlamydia, hepatitis, herpes and HIV. We also look for birth defects. At the first prenatal visit, we screen for genetic diseases that could be passed on to any offspring like cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy.”

Staying Healthy

It’s important to maintain your current state of health during pregnancy. That means eating right and exercising regularly. She recommends eating a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein sources like fish, chicken and legumes.

“You need to increase the amount of protein in your diet,” she notes. “More than half of my patients are vegetarians, so I tell them to reduce the rice and increase the lentils and tofu.”

Women who are within the normal weight range should gain about 25 to 35 pounds during the pregnancy, but those who are overweight shouldn’t gain more than 25 pounds, and obese women shouldn’t gain more than 15 pounds.

It’s also important to avoid alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy, and keep caffeine consumption to two servings per day. No amount of alcohol has been shown to be safe during pregnancy.

Dr. Barrie encourages everyone to take prenatal child birth classes and create a birth plan so their delivery goes the way they want, barring any health complications.

“Some women say they just want what’s best for their baby, and others know exactly what they want,” she said. “There are a lot of details. Some want an epidural, others don’t even want to be offered meds during the delivery. If it’s a boy, will they be circumcised? Do you want music during the delivery? Whatever it is, we want to know the details of your plan.”

Dr. Barrie said having a baby is like running a marathon, so you should try to be in the best shape you can to get ready for it.

“You really can’t prepare for a marathon by sitting on the couch for nine months, reading about training” she adds. “You need to lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat right and exercise – and yes, you can have sex. There are a lot of myths out there about pregnancy. It’s really about taking good care of yourself and your baby.”

To learn more about obstetric and gynecology services offered through Washington Hospital, visit For information on Dr. Barrie and Women’s Health Specialists, visit