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Fit through the end: ACCs new prenatal/postpartum guidance

Participants in the prenatal fitness class perform TRX squats at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020.

Participants in the prenatal fitness class perform TRX squats at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020. The Air Combat Command Surgeon General directorate released new guidance called Conditioning/Reconditioning (Fitness) Program for Airmen During and After Pregnancy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoie Cox)

Participants in the prenatal fitness class pose for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020.

Participants in the prenatal fitness class pose for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020. The fitness class not only encourages military women to keep up with fitness during pregnancy, but also builds friendships with other expectant mothers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoie Cox)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alexandra Singer performs a TRX row exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alexandra Singer performs a TRX row exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020. Under the new Conditioning/Reconditioning (Fitness) Program for Airmen During and After Pregnancy guidance, fitness centers must be staffed with certified pregnancy trainers and host classes at least three times a week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoie Cox)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alexandra Singer performs a wall sit at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alexandra Singer performs a wall sit at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2020. Prenatal and postpartum fitness classes are offered for mothers to keep up with their fitness during this stage of life for an easier transition back into regular fitness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoie Cox)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
I sat on my bathroom toilet in shock, heart pounding almost out of my chest as tears welled up in my eyes. “There’s no way I’m pregnant,” I thought to myself, except there was a way and as unexpected as it was, it was true.

Pregnant women throughout the military may have had a similar reaction to mine or something completely different after finding out there is life growing inside them, but one thing remains the same for us all…we are pregnant, and we are in the military, which means fitness is still a huge part of our lives.

I don’t know about others, but one of the first things I thought of was how much my body was going to change. I did research on how much weight I might gain, how easy it is to lose baby weight and how I should be eating. 

Luckily, my base was ahead of the game. At my first women’s health appointment I was given a list of resources to see what diet to follow, how much weight I should gain, where and when to take a prenatal nutrition class and my profile for pregnancy. 

One of the top resources I was given was information on the new prenatal fitness class held at the Shellbank Gym. With my pregnancy profile, I was able to attend my first class.

Recently, the Air Combat Command Surgeon General directorate released new guidance called Conditioning/Reconditioning (Fitness) Program for Airmen During and After Pregnancy. This is for female Airmen during all stages of pregnancy and after giving birth. 

“We recognized that we were falling short in providing optimized health and fitness for our pregnant Airmen,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command. “Our goal is simple: provide our Airmen with research-based options they can use to support pregnancy and post-partum conditioning and reconditioning.”

This guidance applies to all ACC bases where fitness centers are required to be staffed with certified pregnancy trainers and must host classes at least three times a week.

Not only will this new program encourage pregnant and postpartum women to attend fitness classes and keep up with their standards, but it’s a great way to meet other mothers and socialize outside of the job.

Luckily I found out I was pregnant after Langley Air Force Base had already implemented these classes. This is a huge step for women all over ACC. 

Personally, the fitness classes have been very beneficial. The instructor allows us to go at our own pace, since every pregnancy is different and every woman’s pre-pregnancy workout routine is different. It challenges me, but also gives me the chance to take a break if needed.

We also have access to websites that educate us on nutritional, emotional and other materials to help us through pregnancy. The hospital also offers different in-person classes for expectant and postpartum mothers. 

Not only have I made new friendships through my prenatal fitness classes, but I’m glad I have a way to have some kind of routine while pregnant. This will make getting back into full fitness way easier once my baby boy is born.

“The body does change throughout the pregnancy process,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Rosemary Haley, Command Nurse and Chief of Medical Operations for ACC’s SG directorate. “We’re hoping that people see some value and we have a return on investment and that the Air Force takes a look at this and pushes it even further.”