Sailors who have given birth will now have an additional three months to recover before they are required to take the physical fitness assessment.
Under the Navy’s new policy, postpartum sailors will be exempt from taking the PFA for 12 months rather than nine months after giving birth, according to a recent Naval administrative message.
“This change allows postpartum Sailors time to fully recover in a healthy manner prior to being required to meet fitness and body composition standards,” the NAVADMIN said.
Between six and nine months after giving birth, sailors will take an unofficial, wellness PFA designed to aid sailors as they “return to PFA standards” and provide their commanding officers with insight concerning their health and fitness levels.
Sailors will receive medical clearance from a health care provider, or receive an Authorized Medical Department Assessment to ensure its safe to partake in the wellness PFA. Sailors will be rescreened if they are not initially cleared, according to the NAVADMIN.
“If a postpartum Sailor passes the wellness PFA, they can return to command/unit physical training,” the NAVADMIN said. “If a postpartum Sailor fails to screen, they will be provided postpartum nutrition and fitness resources to assist with their postpartum recovery.”
Pregnancy and postpartum physical training resources, including nutrition info, will also become available to sailors on the MyNavy HR website in July.
The change comes months after the Marine Corps also modified its policy so postpartum Marines would have a full year exemption from the physical fitness test and combat fitness test after giving birth. Like the Navy, the Marine Corps’ previous policy was nine months.
The Marine Corps cited lower risk of injury and breast milk production among the reasons that prompted the shift.
The Navy’s policy change takes effect July 1, 2021. The Navy is poised to kick off one PFA cycle in 2021, starting in July.
That will mark the first time the service has conducted a PFA cycle since it started canceling PFAs in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.