CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Bright-colored yoga mats roll out across the floor at Health & Human Performance Center at Camp Casey, South Korea as female Soldiers of 2nd Infantry Division and their spouses practice yoga during the Pregnancy and Post-Partum Physical Training Program March 20.
Through a variety of physical training sessions and educational activities, the mandatory PPPT program is designed to prepare expectant Soldiers for childbirth. The program promotes a healthy pregnancy, helps Soldiers maintain fitness and provides them support through postpartum recovery.
"We do cardio three times a week, we have a muscular strength and endurance day, and one day a week we offer an education class," said Capt. Andrea Bontrager, PPPT coordinator, brigade nurse, 1st ABCT, 2nd Inf. Div.
According to the U.S. Army Public Health Command, continuing to exercise throughout pregnancy has positive effects on labor and delivery with fewer medical interventions. By remaining active, females are better prepared to adapt to the challenges of motherhood and their responsibilities postpartum.
"What I want the females to get out of it, which aligns with the program guidelines, is to maintain their physical fitness throughout their pregnancy so they have an easier childbirth, and so their recovery process is quicker and they are able to integrate back into their units," said Bontrager.
Yoga is a great way for the females to stretch, work on balance, and focus on positions that will prepare the them for delivery, said Bontrager. However, this is just one of the ways the PPPT program is designed to help females through their pregnancy.
"Every Thursday morning we have a class, from 8 (a.m.) to 9 (a.m.)," said 2nd Lt. Amanda Krol, unit public affairs representative, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st ABCT, 2nd Inf. Div. "Yesterday, we learned CPR and the Heimlich maneuver on infants, which is a little different. They brought in infant-sized dolls or dummies to practice on which was very informative."
Weekly classes and guest speakers educate soldiers on various topics such as nutrition, pediatrics, CPR, federal assistance programs, and military benefits.
Another beneficial aspect of the program is the sense of community, explained Krol. Soldiers benefit from the shared experience, having like-minded battle buddies who can relate and understand what they are going through. It is way for the females to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, said Krol.
"I think the biggest benefit is the support from other pregnant females, especially in this environment ... It gives them the opportunity to talk to other people in the same situation," said Krol.
Although the program is mandatory for all eligible Soldiers, PPPT program success is dependent upon enrollment and participation, explained Bontrager. Response has increased with the help of command teams, who play a crucial role in promoting the program and encouraging their expectant Soldiers to participate.