By Adrienne Anderson
Fort Belvoir’s new Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Training program started Tuesday. The program emphasizes mission readiness for pregnant Service members.
“Having a kid and starting a family while you are trying to maintain a military career brings a certain amount of complexity and a certain amount of challenges,” said Col. Jason Wieman, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital director.
The program facilitates staying in shape while pregnant, he said.
Trained instructors lead participants in physical activity and education about staying healthy and active during the entire pregnancy, including after giving birth. Exercises, including aerobics and swimming, are adjusted based on how far along the pregnancy is. The program takes place four times a week, which includes three days for exercising and a day for education on pregnancy, nutrition, and other related topics.
While on their 12 weeks of maternity leave, after giving birth, the women will learn exercises to help them until they are ready to continue their military duties, said Sgt. 1st Class Peggy Smith, instructor-trainer and NCOIC for the program.
P3T also helps prepare for the delivery, she said.
“Some of the exercises are tailored to breathing. So, whenever they are giving birth, it helps their breathing throughout the pregnancy and throughout the delivery,” Smith said.
“It’s something that’s necessary for our pregnant and postpartum Soldiers because … so many get out (of the military) because they have so many complications, they don’t have anyone to talk to, their physical fitness isn’t there,” she said, adding that the Soldiers get information they might not otherwise know about to help them through the pregnancy and afterward.
According to P3T, the benefits of exercising while pregnant include:
- Fewer and less-intense physical symptoms
- Less weight retention
- Reduced, pregnancy-related fatigue
- Cardiovascular fitness maintenance
- Rapid, post-delivery recovery
- Quicker return to return to required physical levels for duty
Those interested and eligible to participate can contact Smith at 703-805-0149, or visit Fort Belvoir’s P3T Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FtBelvoirP3T/