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Marine Corps adjusts time needed for mothers to return to fitness standards under new policy

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Karla Smith, Baby Boot Camp class participant, practices different methods of holding a baby during the Baby Boot Camp class April 18, 2013. Photo by Lance Cpl. Jorden Wells

Caitlin M. Kenney

Stars and Stripes

The Marine Corps is giving women more time to get into physical shape after childbirth, according to a new policy change.

Once a pregnancy is confirmed, the woman is exempt from taking a fitness test or participating in the Body Composition Program or the Military Appearance Program. Those programs are aimed at Marines who are not meeting the service’s fitness and appearance standards.

After the birth of the child, the woman has at least 12 months to meet fitness and appearance standards, according to the new update posted Monday, which goes into effect immediately.

The extension was made in recognition of the individual circumstances of each Marine’s pregnancy and postpartum time and to alleviate the stress of returning to the service’s standards.

“Affording a postpartum Marine more time before mandating fitness testing and body composition compliance will allow a fuller recovery, lower injury risk, prevent potential long-term persistent factors and eliminate potential impact to breast milk production due to rapid weight loss,” Capt. Sam Stephenson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Training and Education Command, said in an email Tuesday.

The Marine Corps expects women to continue physical fitness routines during their pregnancies, citing new science that has shown it is good for their health and that of their children. The announcement also states that new mothers should start a gradual and appropriate exercise program as soon as their doctor approves.

The announcement cited the “Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Training Handbook” as a resource that Marines can use to understand which fitness activities they can do during and after pregnancy.

With the update, Marines who have been placed in the Body Composition Program in the last three months after their postpartum period can be removed and reevaluated, according to the announcement. Also, Marines who completed their postpartum period within the last three months and received an adverse fitness report can now petition for relief with the Performance Evaluation Review Board.

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