JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Staying fit with a growing belly challenges pregnant women. The Pregnancy-Postpartum Physical Training Program, known as P3T, helps U.S. Army soldiers stay in shape while pregnant and return to fighting form afterward.
Every day, approximately 120 soldiers participate in P3T at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Participants are usually enrolled for a mandatory 15 months, including 180 days after pregnancy. Like every other physical readiness training session, a P3T session requires a leader.
Before instructing a session, P3T leaders are required to attend a 3-day course. Non-commissioned officers earn their certification by learning proper stretching and exercise techniques designed for pregnant and postpartum soldiers. They must also pass written and practical exams. Once certified, the P3T leaders conduct training for 30 days.
During the course, leaders participated in dance aerobics, water aerobics and stretching exercises. They also took turns wearing a 35-pound “empathy belly” to simulate weight during a pregnancy.
“The empathy belly was heavy,” said Staff Sgt. Masasinge Hadley, a Micronesia native, now a medic with 508th Military Police Battalion. “I have found a new respect for pregnant women. It really limits you.”
Some participants were surprised by the level of intensity during P3T and the motivation of pregnant soldiers.
“I’m psyched to do this. It is more than I expected,” said Sgt. Gary Rice, a Las Vegas native, now the battalion schools non-commissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment.
Every Friday, soldiers’ supervisors are welcome and encouraged to join the P3T session, said Sgt. Patricia Richardson, a Manning, S.C. native, now the non-commissioned officer in charge of P3T at Joint Base Lewis McChord.