Postpartum Physical Therapy: Supporting Women’s Health Needs during and after Pregnancy

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, Pelvic Floor Therapy/Pelvic Pain, Pelvic health, Physical Therapy, Women's Health

Postpartum Physical Therapy

Various programs aim to support women’s health needs during and after pregnancy. One of the most recent additions is the 2022 Army policy, which provides additional flexibilities to allow soldiers to maintain and advance their careers while also growing their families. This article explores the importance of postpartum physical therapy and the programs that are available to women during and after pregnancy.

The 2022 Army Policy and ACOG

The 2022 Army policy reflects current scientific organization recommendations. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports regular exercise as an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. Obstetric care providers should encourage their patients to continue or to commence exercise as an important component of optimal health.

The 2022 Army policy now allows women 365 days to meet their height and weight standards and to pass the Army Combat Fitness Test after the birth of a child, doubling the prior time of 180 days.

Deployment Deferment After Childbirth

This law standardizes new mother deployment deferral policy across the services for 12 months after childbirth. The Army provides guidance as well as specific information regarding exercise modifications for local installations to oversee a site-specific Post-Partum Physical Training (P3T) program.

Local Installations and P3T

The guidance in the following Army doctrine provides information about the Post-Partum Physical Training program:

  • Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 7-0, Training Units and Developing Leaders:
  • Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 7-22.01, The Army Physical Readiness Training
  • Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Regulation (CSF2):
  • FM 7-22, released October 2020:

The US Army MEDCOM previously supported the mandatory Army P3T program at installations by providing an Army-wide P3T instructor course and developing educational materials for local use. However, the Army medical community is no longer designated to support the program. As a result, local commanders are responsible for execution based on the implementation standards set forth in policy.

Some of the educational materials, referred to as the APHC TG 255 series, Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training Manuals, are temporarily still being provided.

Improving Overall Health

AFWCs provide standardized primary prevention programs designed to promote and sustain healthy lifestyles and improve overall well-being. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and strengthen your bones and muscles.

Army Wellness Centers

Army Wellness Centers provide strategic direction to support a standardized worldwide wellness initiative that empowers sustainable behavior change through evidence-based education and awareness using advanced technology. The APHC ergonomics program provides installation-level ergonomics services, training, and consultation for the US Army. Health Education and Application Division develop evidence-based health education and promotion products and programs using advanced technologies for soldiers, family members, retirees, Army civilians, military health care providers, and senior leaders.

Health Promotion Operations

Health Promotion Operations assures the Community Health Promotion Council enhances health of the force through a community-driven public health planning process for the benefit of soldiers, family members, retirees, and civilians. This page provides a description of the vision, organizational structure, and activities of the Injury Prevention Branch. Contact information is also provided.

Resources

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working across its agencies to decrease pregnancy complications and improve the health of women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Resources are available to help women make good choices about medicines, foods, and other products for themselves and their babies. FAQ regarding exercise during pregnancy is available online.

Conclusion

Postpartum physical therapy is important to help women regain their strength and mobility after childbirth. The 2022 Army policy provides additional flexibilities to allow soldiers to maintain and advance their careers while also growing their families. Deployment deferment after childbirth and P3T programs aim to support new mothers’ physical fitness. Different resources are available to promote overall health, wellness, and safety for women during and after pregnancy.