HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. The Army designed its physical training program to improve and maintain Soldiers' physical fitness levels, promote team cohesion, and prepare troops to meet the physical demands of war. Ensuring the readiness of all Soldiers, the Army's PT program also caters to pregnant Soldiers by preparing them for childbirth and to return to duty.

At Hunter Army Airfield, more than a dozen Soldiers currently participate in a pregnancy and postpartum class held at Tominac Fitness Center.

"This PT is better for the pregnant Soldiers in order to reduce labor pains, increase circulation and maintain mobility," said Sgt. 1st Class Shylonda Wallace, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Medical Operations noncommissioned officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd CAB.

The program also includes Soldiers who have returned from maternity convalescent leave who can participate in the program up to 180 days after returning.

"For the postpartum Soldiers, (the program) prevents them from jumping straight into unit PT and falling behind," Wallace said. "That portion of the program is to get the Soldier back (used) to doing PT and gradually increase their physical fitness with the ultimate goal of passing a diagnostic (Army Physical Fitness) test and returning them to PT with their unit."

While the instructors wear the Improved Physical Fitness Uniform, those who are pregnant wear the IPFU until they are unable to fit and then wear what is comfortable for them, Wallace said.
"The body changes, and you become less physically fit," Sgt. Charmaine Howard, a program coordinator from HHC, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, said. "This program is important to make sure they stay physically fit through their pregnancy into postpartum and back to their units."

Sergeant Ashlei Shaw, Company B, 2/3 Avn., is five months pregnant, and she said she enjoys the styles in which the program is given.

"This helps me maintain a little bit of shape and makes it easier to transition after I have the baby," Shaw said.

For Spc. Cierra Smith, Company E, 2/3 Avn., who had her baby five months ago, this program has evolved into something she says is helpful.

"It has helped me get back in shape and helped me get back to my unit and be able to keep up with them," Smith said. "When I first started, I was sore, but now I work out and I'm getting better. It's actually getting me in shape."

Soldiers participating in the pregnancy and postpartum physical fitness program stretch after working out, Feb. 25 at Hunter's Tominac Fitness Center.