FORT SILL, Oklahoma (June 14, 2022) Army Public Health Command is offering a physical training program for postpartum Soldiers aimed at getting new Soldier-moms back to duty more quickly.
The Pregnancy/Postpartum Physical Training program (P3T) is designed to provide safe, standardized physical training and education led by personnel trained in pregnancy and postpartum fitness, said Capt. Samantha Kinsman, P3T manager, United States Army Reserve. The program promotes readiness through health by maintaining fitness levels of pregnant Soldiers, and successfully integrating postpartum Soldiers back into unit physical readiness training.
“The new parenthood policy is a big win for the Soldiers in P3T. Previously the Soldiers had 180 days from the day they leave the hospital to meet those height and weight requirements and the Army Combat Fitness Test,” said Kinsman. “P3T has been helping female Soldiers who are pregnant, and those who are postpartum, maintain a specific level of physical fitness so they can go back to their unit as soon as possible.”
While the program itself isn’t affected by recent Army policy changes, the time Soldiers have to recover from pregnancy and return to physical readiness is.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth issued Army Directive 2022-06 (Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum) April 19, 2022. The directive is aimed at improving opportunities for Soldiers to advance their careers while providing the time and flexibility needed to care for growing families.
The biggest change to the new Army policy targeting parenthood issues is Soldier-moms have 365 days to meet their height and weight standards instead of 180 days after the birth of a child.
“In general, having six months to meet height and weight requirements and then pass the ACFT after having a baby is not enough. It takes you nine months to grow a baby and I think every person should be afforded at least that much time to get back to some sort of normal and take care of a tiny human,” said Kinsman. “I think a year is fair. Six months was definitely pushing it. We could see it was definitely stressing some Soldiers out.”
Fort Sill and Army Public Health Command offer the P3T program for pregnant and postpartum Soldiers to safely do PT every morning from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Participants meet Monday through Friday for workout sessions with education classes on Thursdays at the Graham Performance Enhancement Center.
“Pregnant and postpartum Soldiers are in our program for 180 days and in that time we try to do everything we can for them, teach them good habits for the future, and help them maintain a certain level of fitness,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Dumond, P3T noncommissioned officer in charge, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery. “The new policy gives them 365 days to meet the height and weight standards, which is a big change.”
Based on several Army studies and current literature it was shown that after 15 months of pregnancy and postpartum, Soldiers who return to unit physical training without intervention demonstrate reduced fitness levels, increased body fat, and increases in injuries and illness rates. P3T offers specifically designed PT for these Soldiers to help them maintain overall health and well-being, said Kinsman.
“We try to strengthen the muscles — especially those muscle groups that are going to be used during delivery. We focus on things that are going to help their bodies during the adjustment that they make, such as keeping their posture good and just maintaining,” said Kinsman.
In addition to physical training, the program offers new parents’ resources like baby supplies including, diapers, formula and clothing. There is also a swap meet in the works for the participants so they can exchange baby items and it gives them an informal event to socialize, she said.
“We bring in a lot of really cool resources in the community,” said Kinsman. “We do a lot with the New Parent Support program and we bring in chiropractors and doulas to show them what local resources are available. It’s giving them the link so they know where to go if they have issues.”
For more information on the P3T program, call 580-442-6404. To see more pictures of the physical training program, check out the flickr album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortsillcannoneer/albums/72177720299619147