For Cpt. Chelsea Linvill, a Fort Jackson operations officer, being a mother and a Soldier in the Army "takes a lot of balance" because you can never seem to give enough time to your job or your Family.

Linvill is in charge of an Army program on post that takes special care of Soldier/mothers through a physical training and educational classes designed to increase their readiness.

Fort Jackson's Pregnancy/Postpartum Physical Training program is aimed not only to maintain readiness, but to allow for smoother pregnancy and return back to the ranks afterwards.

"In my opinion, the program is good because it improves not only their personal health, but improves the health of the baby because women who are physically fit have an easier childbirth," Linvill said. "They also have an easier recovery afterwards -- they are able to become better moms."

Studies have revealed Soldiers not involved in structured pregnancy and postpartum physical training will more often fail Army Physical Fitness Test, not make height and weight, and see an increased injury rate after returning to unit PT after six months of postpartum recovery, said the post's command sergeant major.

"Exercising has shown to have the most positive effects on labor and delivery with fewer medical issues and shorter hospital stays," said Command Sgt. Maj. Lamont Christian.

The program also help relieve the mothers' stress, Linvill said.

Pregnancy can be a "very stressful" situation "like it was for me both times," she emphasized.
The Soldiers also get to bond with other moms as well.

"You also get to meet a lot of women who are in the same position -- they are all on active duty, they're all moms -- so you can share similar experiences with them," said Linvill after watching the Soldier/moms exercising.

The program is designed to assist pregnant and postpartum Soldiers in meeting their unique fitness needs through a standardized physical training and educational program. For pregnant Soldiers this means bodyweight exercises while for postpartum Soldiers the PT incorporates more running and movement drills. Soldiers in the program are taught by MEDDAC personnel on the best ways to eat; drill sergeants and master fitness trainers on proper exercise.

"In the past, units did not have appropriately trained leaders to lead exercises for pregnant/postpartum Soldiers," Christian said. "This led to many Soldiers attempting to recover and train on their own and in most cases, not do anything at all. "

"Once these mothers get in better shape, they're able to go back to unit and function just as they did" prior to being pregnant, said Staff Sgt. Teneka Dixon, a drill sergeant with 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment and one of the instructors in the course.

While the program is effective in helping Soldiers before and after childbirth, it is "not an option" to go or not.

"This is a command directed program because it improves the readiness of our Soldiers," Linvill said.