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Maintaining Fitness Before and After Childbirth

pregnant women in exercise class

Jupiter Images/BananaStock/Thinkstock

In this Article:

  • Stick with low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or biking.
  • Healthy weight gain for most pregnant women is 25 to 35 pounds.
  • Avoid twists and pulsing ab crunches while pregnant.

Congratulations! You’re expecting a baby. Your body will go through many changes before and after childbirth.

Weight gain is healthy and necessary when you’re pregnant. Women with a normal body mass index (BMI) will most likely gain 25 to 35 pounds (up to 45 pounds for twins).

Although, weight gain and fatigue can make staying in shape more challenging than ever, it’s especially important for female Soldiers to maintain fitness to return to duty after giving birth.

Fortunately, there are several proven methods to maintain pre- and post- natal fitness.

The Benefits of Pre-Natal Fitness

Regular, moderate exercise will help decrease uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms, prevent diabetes, relieve stress, and build stamina needed for labor and delivery.

Consistent exercise will also make it easier to bounce back to your normal weight and fitness level.

Experts recommend healthy women get 30 minutes of low-impact, aerobic exercise five days a week. Check out this prenatal workout plan [PDF].

Working Out During Pregnancy

Consult with your medical health professional before beginning a new workout routine. Pay attention to your activity level and listen to your body so you don’t overdo it.

A combination of low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, and low-impact aerobics is a good way to stay fit while protecting your baby.

Make sure to let your instructors know that you’re pregnant. Avoid twists, pulsing abdominal crunches, and lying flat on your back after the second trimester.

Learn about safe and unsafe exercises to do during your pregnancy.

Shedding the Baby Weight

Female Soldiers are exempt from regular unit physical readiness training up to 180 days after giving birth. But most women can safely resume low-impact exercise one to two weeks after giving birth.

Soldiers can try post-natal workouts to help ease the body back into shape before returning to regular physical training. Make sure to get your medical health professional’s approval first.

Post-natal exercises can include walking, swimming, or biking and strength training. Try this post-natal exercise video using a baby stroller.

“The goal for every postpartum Soldier is to meet her fitness and weight goals within six months after giving birth,” explained Lisa Young, a health educator for the Army Public Health Command.

The Army Pregnancy Postpartum Training (P3T) Program is an Army-sponsored post-natal program for female Soldiers. “The [P3T] program can assist Soldiers in meeting their goals,” Young said. Contact your Medical Readiness NCO to see if P3T is available near you.