Attention mamas and mamas-to-be! Are you acquainted with your pelvic floor? Familiar with diastasis recti? Prolapse? Incontinence? Have postpartum compression shorts become a staple of your wardrobe? This is just some of the exciting new vocabulary and apparel that can come along with motherhood. So as we think about health and fitness on our motherhood journey, it is important that pregnant moms, new moms, and even women trying to conceive pay special attention to what their changing bodies need.
To kick us off right, we caught up with two awesome experts to help guide new and expecting moms down the right path. Ashley Nowe is a pregnancy and postpartum corrective exercise specialist, nutrition coach, and founder of Get Mom Strong. And Sara Reardon, aka the Vagina Whisperer, is a women’s health physical therapist. Together they are on a mission to keep women strong and empowered throughout their pregnancy and beyond.
Ashley & Sara’s Journeys towards Women’s Health
For Ashley, her professional passion was born from her own struggles. At about five months postpartum with her twin boys, she still felt weak and was experiencing back pain. “I was doing tons of ‘ab work,’ but no matter my efforts, the pooch remained. Thanks to an internet search, I discovered that I had diastasis recti. My obstetrician said that the only solution was surgery. I was heartbroken,” she explains.
Determined to avoid that route, she went on a quest to find answers, and in that process found a pelvic floor physical therapist. “She changed my life. As a lifelong athlete, I was humbled to learn all the basics of my body in order to heal. She taught me everything I should have known about my body YEARS ago. Every woman on planet earth deserves the right to healing, and I decided to make that my mission.”
Sara has been a pelvic floor physical therapist for 14 years, but when she had her first baby five years ago, she was shocked at how little information was provided to her about pelvic floor health, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. “I felt all expecting and postpartum moms should have access to not only how to treat pelvic floor issues, but also prevent them,” she explains. So...she started an Instagram account called The Vagina Whisperer. “It's been amazing and inspiring to share so much information to help support pregnant and postpartum moms in the hopes of improving their experience and changing outcomes.
Sara is such an expert in the pelvic health physical therapy that she did a TED Talk about it! Check it out here!
There’s no need to wait until you are pregnant to focus on your whole body. An easy first step to total body women’s fitness is to simply follow Ashley on Instagram for awesome exercise tips and tricks.
For those who prefer the structure and support of a more formalized plan, Ashley’s Strong Like A Mother program is great for all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced athletes. The program first lays the foundation by teaching you how to use your core and pelvic floor. This foundation is then used in total-body workouts that combine strength, cardio, and core-specific work.
Sara emphasizes the importance for every woman to get to know her pelvic floor pre-pregnancy. “Is there tension, weakness, incoordination? It's great to check in with a pelvic floor PT when trying to conceive to be proactive in your pelvic health and muscle function,” she says.
Great news for expecting mamas looking to get/stay fit during their pregnancy! Ashley and Sara created a one-of-a-kind pregnancy fitness and pelvic floor program, Your Power Pregnancy, to help moms exercise safely during pregnancy, stay strong, and prepare their bodies for a more optimal birth and recovery. The program includes weekly workouts tailored for every week of pregnancy, plus pelvic floor tips too. From pooping and prolapse to breastfeeding tips and childbirth preparation, these ladies get you READY.
They offer a free 7-day trial for all memberships, so there is really nothing to lose.
In addition, Sara offers a variety of other classes for pregnant mamas, like online sessions to work on-on-one with a pelvic floor therapist at any stage of pregnancy and online courses on Pelvic Floor Preparation for Birth, Cesarean Birth Preparation and Recovery, and Postpartum Recovery for Vaginal Birth.
Be sure to follow Sara on Instagram for all kinds of free pelvic health tips and tricks!
Post-Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
It takes time for a woman’s body to recover after childbirth, so Sara’s advice is to take it slow. “Especially when lactating or breastfeeding, your tissues are not as tense or strong as pre-pregnancy and this means being patient, building up your core and pelvic floor strength slowly, and then returning to higher impact exercise over time,” she says.
“I recommend every postpartum mom check in with a pelvic floor PT around 4-6 weeks post-birth.”
Additionally, she warns, “Breastfeeding or lactation can contribute to low estrogen, which leads to vaginal dryness, itching, and a delayed return of your menstrual cycle.”
Sara also offers online courses on Diastasis Recti, Painful Sex, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and Pooping and Constipation Problems to help new moms recover safely and feel empowered and informed on their postpartum journey.
Ashley’s Strong Like a Mother program is also perfect for post-pregnancy (in addition to pre-pregnancy) as it is a whole-body approach to diastasis recti, prolapse, incontinence, and women's fitness.
Breastfeeding journeys are different for everyone...some moms breastfeed for 2 days, others for two years. Sara explains, “The biggest change is that when breastfeeding/lactation ends, your hormone levels start to rebalance, and estrogen increases. This means improved tissue integrity and support of your vaginal wall and pelvic floor.”
Good luck mamas and stay mom strong!