By Mrs. Offemaillist (TRADOC)April 16, 2009
FORT EUSTIS Va. (April 16, 2009) -- Staying in shape as a Soldier is hard enough, but factor in being a female Soldier who is pregnant, and that makes it an even bigger challenge. The Army has come a long way in the last few years in helping female Soldiers who are pregnant, or who have just delivered their baby, to stay in shape and physically fit during their pregnancy and get back in shape after they have delivered.
About two years ago, Maj. Lisa Lute, chief of Public Health at Preventive Medicine and program manager for the Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Training program, noticed a need for an organized physical training program for pregnant and postpartum Soldiers here at Fort Eustis.
Lute went on to explain that the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Web site (http://usachppm.amedd.army.mil/dhpw/readiness/PPPT.aspx) outlines the directives for the PPPT program.
The creation of the PPPT program shows the Army is taking an active role ensuring all its Soldiers are taken care of physically.
The PPPT program helps Soldiers maintain physical fitness and ensures those Soldiers are doing it in a healthy and safe environment. And, staying in good physical shape during pregnancy plays a factor in making the child birth process and postpartum a little easier.
The Fort Eustis PPPT Program meets at McClellan Fitness Center from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. four days a week. Thursday mornings are spent attending classes geared towards preparing the Soldiers for the arrival of their baby and after the birth. Along with nurses from Preventive Medicine teaching classes, different organizations, such as Army Community Service, also assist with teaching classes.
Instructors for the PPPT program have gone through special training so they are prepared to handle situations that may arise. The PPPT instructors are female noncommissioned officers who all have at least one child and have already gone through the program. This helps those going through the PPPT program to better relate to each other.
Lute explained that the Soldier's unit is responsible for enrolling the Soldier into the PPPT program once their pregnancy has been confirmed. Once Soldiers are enrolled in the program, then instructors counsel the Soldiers about the program and what is expected of them while enrolled.
For those who have delivered their baby, the program is geared towards easing them back into doing PT and to reach the goal of where they need to be according to Army Regulation 600-9, The Army Weight Control Program. After the delivery, a Soldier usually gets 45-days of convalescence leave. Once that leave is up and the Soldier returns to duty she then has 180 days to get back into shape and be able to pass a record PT test. Of course, some don't always need the whole 180 days to get back to the physical fitness standards.
"In order to be released from the program, the Soldier must take a PT test and pass, and also receive clearance from the doctor to return to regular PT," said Lute.
Sgt. 1st Class Barbara Davis, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Sustainment Brigade, who has been one of the main instructors for the program since 2006, explains that there is no reason you can't do some form of PT when you are pregnant.
"If you don't do something, it's going to be a harder pregnancy and postpartum," she said.
Sgt. 1st Class Natasha Wallace, also from HHC, 7th Sust. Bde., and an instructor for the program, agrees with Davis saying that it helps make the pregnancy and birth process easier.
Both also agree that the program has improved.
"(The PPPT program) has improved a great deal, and come a long way since it first started," said Wallace.
The instructors also agreed that this is a big help, especially for first-time moms.
"This helps first-time moms because they are scared. With this they can talk to each other," said Davis.
Pfc. Kathryn Lucido, 359th Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 6th Transportation Battalion, 7th Sust. Bde., a soon-to-be first-time mom says the PPPT program has been a big help.
"As far as the PT daily routine, I like it a lot and that we have a program to maintain our physical fitness," she said.
Lucido also said that she really liked the classes because they were very informational for new mothers, and it has helped to discover all types of resources that are available.
"Being around other pregnant females, you know that what you're going through is normal because they are feeling it, too. It's kind of cool to go through it together, and you know you're not the only one feeling so different from everybody else," she concluded.
Spc. Dawn Hawkins, 149th Trans. Company, 10th Trans. Bn., 7th Sust. Bde., who delivered her fifth child about two months ago, feels the PPPT Program is a benefit because for most Soldiers keeping up with their regular unit PT is hard or not possible.
"They can't do the regular things, like they can't run the two miles or three miles. (The program) keeps you in shape and while in the program it allows you to lose the weight after you have the baby," she said.
Hawkins also feels that the classes are very helpful because a lot of new moms don't know what to expect and they prepare you for what to expect. For Hawkins, who has seven years between this baby and her previous child, the classes were a good refresher and have helped prepare her again for what to expect.
"It's really been a help. I've benefited from it," she said.
In closing, Lute says this program enables Soldiers to stay in shape and stay physically fit. By taking care of Soldiers and keeping them fit now, the program will better enable them to return back to their unit ready for duty.
"We have about an 80 to 90 percent pass rate after postpartum PT for first-time pass on PT tests," she said.