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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2024

CIMT brings P3T program back to JBLE

By Erik Siegel 633d ABW Public Affairs

U.S. Army’s Center for Initial Military Training leaders facilitated the Army’s Pregnancy and Postpartum Program Leader Course, Jan. 22-26, 2024.

The  Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Training program supports pregnant and postpartum soldiers by helping them meet Army Combat Fitness Test standards through various physical, mental, and spiritual efforts. The Army P3T Leader Program Course is a ‘train the trainers’ class for exercise leaders who will facilitate the P3T program at JBLE.

“The Army P3T Program Leader Course was previously facilitated by [Defense Health Agency] Public Health, formerly Army Public Health Center,” said Army Capt. Stephanie Meno, Center for Initial Military Training Holistic Health and Fitness Nutrition Domain Lead. “Each year, 14 P3T courses were conducted by a mobile training team at Army installations worldwide, training 340 personnel. When Public Health realigned under DHA in October 2022, they relinquished oversight of the P3T program, and all training ceased in February 2023.”

There were no P3T classes since then, resulting in a gap of adequately trained personnel to oversee training for pregnant and postpartum  soldiers. However, CIMT took on the role as the functional proponent for the P3T program in April 2023, resulting in the planning for the Army P3T Program Leader Course to resume.

“Two contractors with backgrounds in physical training, pregnant and postpartum women’s health and pelvic floor health were hired in October 2023 to update existing P3T curriculum and resume training,” said Meno. “Fort Eustis was selected as the first site for the new P3T Program Leader Course due to having no P3T Instructor Trainer qualified personnel, and due to its proximity to the program proponent’s headquarters.”

Trainees included JBLE soldiers and civilians, who are to run the installation P3T program, and the installation education coordinator, who will oversee educational classes once a week for pregnant soldiers in the P3T program. There were also students assigned to Fort Story, which does not currently have a P3T program. This is foundational training for these students to conduct the P3T program for their respective soldiers.

“[We focused] on teaching participants how to run a successful P3T program while incorporating all five domains of [Holistic Health and Fitness], mental, sleep, spiritual, nutritional, and physical readiness, when working with pregnant and postpartum  soldiers,” said Kelsey Mathias, Center for Initial Military Training (LEAD Training LLC) P3T integrator. “They learned pelvic health concepts, movement patterns, why pregnant and postpartum soldiers need de-loading, and then progressive workouts targeting parts of the body most impacted in that season of life, as well as how to train exercise leaders to lead daily P3T. They also [learned] basic concepts for how sleep, mental readiness, nutritional readiness, and spiritual readiness are all uniquely impacted in P3T soldiers.”

According to Mathias, the pelvic floor and core are impacted during pregnancy and in postpartum. Instructor trainers need to understand these impacts to help soldiers recondition their bodies so they can maintain readiness in their units, as well as conduct the Army Combat Fitness Test without leaking, pelvic pain, or pelvic pressure.

“P3T programming takes into consideration a soldier’s stage of pregnancy, individual limitations, and physiological changes that occur during pregnancy and postpartum,” said Meno. “Each soldier will experience pregnancy differently, and their ability to train may differ day-to-day. We want soldiers to listen to their body and not push to the extreme like they might in traditional PT but give the best effort they are able to at each session.”

The P3T program guides a pregnant soldier to prepare their body for the demands of labor and delivery while also maintaining their physical fitness. The focus for postpartum soldiers is targeting the parts of their body which are most susceptible to deconditioning, specifically the core and pelvic floor. P3T keeps in mind the ACFT while soldiers are in the program.

“This updated program follows plan that includes all events in the ACFT on a weekly basis within the regularly scheduled daily workouts for postpartum soldiers,” said Jennifer Fallon, Center for Initial Military Training (LEAD Training LLC) P3T integrator. “The program prepares service members to stay fit and to meet Army standards, but it is done in a scaled and paced manner, over a period that could be unique to each individual.”

According to Meno, more than 6,000 soldiers give birth every year, with over 84% of those soldiers continue serving in the Army after delivering their baby.

“These soldiers must continue to meet Army physical fitness and body composition standards for the remainder of their career,” said Meno. “The Army P3T program is designed to support safe and effective physical training during pregnancy to minimize decrements in physical abilities and support safe return to training postpartum and prepare soldiers to pass their record Army Combat Fitness Test and Army body composition standards 365 days postpartum.”

According to Matthias, the non-physical domains are just as important as the physical. Instructor trainers learned how to create a supportive environment and build mental resiliency during the P3T program, in addition to the five domains of H2F, which is a much larger Army initiative. This includes weekly education classes during pregnancy, and once a month postpartum, on topics relevant to each trimester and postpartum.

These instructor trainers also learned about warning signs for when a soldier may need help, and on what resources the Army and DoD has to offer those who may need the support.

“It is estimated that one in five pregnant and postpartum women experience Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders,” said Matthias. “We want soldiers to be empowered to access Army resources for mental resiliency to get them the help they need.”