Fort Jackson has implemented a new physical training program for pregnant Soldiers. It is designed to bring them back to their mission as quickly as possible, as well as increase the health benefits for both mother and child.

The Pregnancy/Postpartum Physical Training program, which began Oct. 15, utilizes specific exercises and weekly educational classes to prepare Soldiers to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test 180 days after giving birth.

"In the past, they would show up for PT with the rest of their unit and do it on their own," said Maj. David Price, Victory Support Battalion S-3, who has been tasked with overseeing the program. "But many would end up not doing the exercises properly, or they would just go home."

The mandatory program was developed by the Army's U.S. Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine.

Its goal is to improve force readiness by providing a safe, effective and standardized program led by instructors in pregnancy and postpartum fitness.

"This program benefits not only the Soldier's health, before and after delivery, but it has also proven to reduce difficulties that can occur during the pregnancy," said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Carlson, post command sergeant major.

"From a readiness viewpoint, the Pregnancy/Postpartum Physical Training Program assists leaders with returning our Soldiers back to work physically ready to accomplish their mission, in the shortest time possible without increasing risk to the Soldier or child," he said.

Several Fort Jackson Soldiers were certified in training pregnant and postpartum women in July to act as exercise leaders. The exercise leaders lead and monitor the sessions and monitor the Soldiers' attendance. Participants are broken into two groups, prenatal and postpartum.

"They are evaluated by their doctor to make sure they are not a high-risk pregnancy," Price said. "Their doctor also lets them know what they are capable of doing."

Exercises during the pregnancy, which are conducted three to five times a week, concentrate on centering, strengthening, flexibility, cardiovascular and relaxation and stress management.
Once the Soldier delivers her child, she is given four to six weeks of convalescent leave. Upon returning to duty, she is automatically enrolled in the prenatal program.

She is released from the program when she can pass a normal PT test, Price said.

"At any given time on post there are between 50 and 100 pregnant or postpartum Soldiers," Price said. "I think this is going to be a great program."

Chris.Rasmussen@jackson.army.mil

Page last updated Thu November 1st, 2007 at 15:13