News: Expectant soldier moms stay fit
Story by Staff Sgt. Kenneth Pawlak
FT. BLISS, Texas – Many pregnant soldiers fear that exercising could cause injury during pregnancy and injury to their unborn child. The Pregnancy Post Partum Physical Training program helps alleviate those fears and helps the soon-to-be mom with a physical training program that will be beneficial to them and their baby.
“When you are pregnant, you don’t know what your body can and can't do,” said Pfc. Ashley Alexander, a military police officer, 202nd Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade. “ The pregnancy PT program taught me what my body is capable of doing while pregnant and I was able to overcome my fears about exercising while pregnant.”
Once a soldier finds out she is pregnant, she is required to enroll in the PPPT program. The PPPT program is mandatory for all active duty soldiers up to six months past delivery. During the program, soldiers conduct PT four days a week and have one day for educational classes.
“The PPPT program is designed to help active duty soldiers maintain their physical fitness levels during pregnancy, improve their fitness for a smooth transition back to their unit’s physical training, promote higher physical fitness test scores, and provide soldiers a supportive environment,” said Sgt. Elizabeth Lozano, cadre at the PPPT program, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Garrison.
There are plenty of myths about exercising while pregnant. Exercising while pregnant will benefit the mother and baby.
“Exercising during pregnancy can improve muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness, improve posture and appearance, and lesson some of the discomforts of pregnancy by strengthening the muscles needed for labor and delivery,” said Staff Sgt. Euthressa Foye, PPPT instructor, 1st Armored Division. “Exercising can help reduce back pain, reduce swelling and relieve discomforts such as constipation.”
The PPPT program has certified exercise instructors who are taught the special stretches and exercises to help the expectant soldiers with a successful exercise plan throughout their entire pregnancy.
“Trainers are trained to help the ladies with their issues, they teach them various stretches to help with the pregnancy pains,” said Foye. “Pregnancy stretches can relieve aches and pains as the pregnancy progresses such as the lower back stretch when they experience back pain.”
With any exercise routine, the expectant soldier will benefit more by what she puts into the program.
“I was in the program a year ago and I put everything I had into the program expecting my labor to be easier,” said Lozano. “I was in labor for only 45 minutes and I continued to exercise throughout my pregnancy and post-partum to maintain my aerobic fitness and reduce the physical ailments experienced during pregnancy.”
Besides the physical benefits of being in the program, it gives the soldier an opportunity to bond with other women on Fort Bliss who are pregnant whereas at the unit she may be the only pregnant soldier.
“At the program, the expectant moms are able to build a rapport with other pregnant girls,” said Foye. “It is like a sisterly thing, they bring in clothes and other baby items and exchange with each other items they might need.”