It’s More Than Just KEGELS!

When muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, they are unable to contract appropriately; when the muscles are too tight, they can spasm.
Muscles that are too tight or weak can result in pain and lack of coordination. ((And doing Kegels can make it worse))
A hypertonic pelvic floor occurs when the muscles in the pelvic floor become too tense and are unable to relax.
Many people with a tense and non-relaxing pelvic floor experience pelvic health concerns such as constipation, painful sex, urgency and pelvic pain. .
A hypertonic pelvic floor may also be accompanied by tension in surrounding hip and pelvic muscles such as the piriformis, gluteals, obturator internus, coccygeus and hamstrings.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms….please contact a physical therapist who is trained to evaluate and treat pelvic floor conditions! They can diagnose the root cause and help you gently learn to relax and regain the health of your pelvic floor and surrounding muscles!

How Common Is Bladder Pain?

The American Urological Association defines BPS/interstitial cystitis as “an unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder🎈, associated with lower urinary tract symptoms of more than six weeks duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes.” Many may describe their pain as “flares” of worsening symptoms triggered by stress, intercourse, menses, or diet.
⚕️The diagnosis is based on a detailed history and physical examination rather than specialized diagnostic tests.
💊Pharmacotherapy alone, particularly with opioids, should be discouraged. A multidisciplinary, multimodal approach starting with the least invasive therapies is recommended.
Pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT) is recommended to address musculoskeletal abnormalities that may be contributing to the pain. This type of specialized physical therapy has been shown to be highly successful for bladder pain/IC.
Source: JAMA December 24/31, 2019 Volume 322, Number 24

Habit – Not Homework


During this busy, hectic and joyous time of year … who needs more homework anyway!?


“The stress incontinence and urge incontinence I have suffered with since my hysterectomy now are markedly lessened. In many situations, at home, out shopping, and in social situations, I can now deliberately and willfully target these important muscles and have been able to markedly lessen the ‘accidents’ I used to have.” – patient of Women’s Health Physical Therapy
Our goal for our patients is that engaging the correct muscles during activity becomes a habit…not just homework! This patient gets it!

Newborns Need Care, But So Do New Mamas

“After I gave birth to my third child, the first person who met our newest family member was my mother-in-law. I watched her fall in love with my baby and I was once again so proud to see this happen.
It wasn’t until my mother-in-law was about to leave that it hit me. Did I become invisible after giving birth? Was I just a person behind the baby and not next to it?

She ran up to me and said, “Oh I am so sorry. I don’t know if I said it clearly, but great job mama! I am so proud of YOU! You made this baby, how are YOU feeling? Are YOU okay?” I matter too. I am a person too. I am valuable. I am the baby’s whole world and I need to be seen so I don’t lose myself.
When do we become invisible? Is it the moment when people say, “I am coming to see the baby…”? The words from my mother-in-law made all the difference—she saw me too. With all the emotions I had, I needed to be seen. I needed to be held. I don’t need loads of attention, I want people to be with my child but I need to be held as well, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
Because here’s the thing, in 10 years the baby will not remember who first held them, but the mother will forever remember who held her.
It takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother as well. Becoming a mother is always a new experience—whether it’s your first or fourth child.”

THRIVE: Mind, Body & Soul


We were not made to merely survive.  We were made to thrive! 

To thrive is to flourish in every area of our lives: physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and relationally.  Learning how to thrive is a process, and it is our goal to create an atmosphere that assists women on their journey.


Whether through yoga and movement, meditation and mindfulness, creative therapy, enjoying a good book from our library, playing in our adult sandbox, finding out about local charities and ways to give, doing a little work in our co-working space, relaxing in one of our stress-relief rooms, getting a massage, a facial, or a wellness pod session, learning something new in our classroom, or enjoying a healthy snack and a variety of drink options; the women of RVA will have a place to connect, grow, learn, and have the chance to discover more about themselves.





Just a little over two years ago, I found myself diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease.  I underwent aggressive, high-dose antibiotics via a PICC line, had to endure a spinal tap, and dealt with a host of symptoms which affected my day to day life immensely.  Shortly after this diagnosis my daughter and I’s relationship became strained, and she stopped talking to me.  I was struggling in almost every area of my life during this season. It was in this place of pain that my journey began.  I knew things had to change, that I had to change.  So, I cried out to God and then went to work.  I got my hands on every piece of personal growth material I could find, I started exercising and learning how to take the best care of myself possible, I read, I began to get up early to spend time for myself, by myself. I made sticky notes with positive affirmations and stuck them up around my bedroom.  I renewed my mind, gave up the negative thoughts and beliefs I had about myself.  I started to thrive.  I didn’t get instantaneously better, but I was making progress, and with each day I grew stronger and more confident.

Now my sister and I want to share what it means to thrive with as many women throughout the Richmond area as we possibly can.  Our heart is to provide them a place and a space to learn who they are outside of what they do, to help them learn that they are better women, better mothers, better spouses, better partners, better employees, and better people when they take time for themselves, when they care for themselves, when they love themselves.

Woman Relaxing Lying On A Couch At Home

It’s so important that we set aside time for ourselves, that we nurture who we are as women, that we support each other, connect with each other, and encourage each other to take the best care of ourselves inside and out!

We are here to help you thrive!!!


unnamedTHRIVE is about women, for women.

Excellence is our purpose; encouraging women to thrive is our passion. Our mission is to blend our purpose with our passion in order to encourage, support, and empower women to take care of themselves in a new way.  Our vision is to inspire women to grow and express who they truly are through exploration, education, physical fitness, and self-care.

Read more about the amazing sister team behind THRIVE! 


Blog post author: Anne Marie Hawke

THRIVE: Mind, Body & Soul

Excellence RVA: Coaching and Consulting


A New Paradigm for Postpartum Care

Given the urgent need to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a new revised Committee Opinion to reinforce the importance of the “fourth trimester,” and to propose a new paradigm for postpartum care. 👏

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ACOG now recommends that postpartum care should be an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter. These visits will include, but not limited to, an assessment of physical recovery from birth….which includes referal to pelvic floor physical therapy. 👩
Every woman should see a pelvic health Doctor of Physical Therapy (as soon as 3 weeks postpartum) for a comprehensive musculoskeletal and pelvic floor examination, screening for postpartum depression, and intervention to guide the optimal musculoskeletal recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. 🤱
Have questions about setting up an assessment with a pelvic floor physical therapist? Send us a DM!

Yes, accidental bowel leakage is more common than you may think.

Yes, accidental bowel leakage is more common than you may think.💩
The biggest risk factors are age but many younger women deal with ABL as well. Other major risk factors are being overweight, bariatric surgery and complications during a vaginal childbirth.
So what’s happening to cause this? Short answer, nerve or muscle damage. Any damage or excess pressure to the nerves that signals the need for a bowel movement or the muscles that control bowel movements can cause accidental bowel leakage (aka: fecal incontinence).

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As women’s health physical therapists, we see a significant percentage of postpartum women who deal with bowel leakage. We understand. It’s embarrassing…but it’s important to bring this up with your health care provider so that the best course of action can be discussed.
Dealing with bowel leakage can greatly interrupt your social life, sexual health, exercise routine and just overall daily life. Women’s health physical therapists are trained to pin-point musculoskeletal dysfunctions and help you rehabilitate your muscles to prevent fecal leakage.👏

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety?


What is postpartum depression and anxiety?
It’s common for women to experience the “baby blues”— feeling stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired, or weepy — following their baby’s birth. But some women — up to 1 in 7 — experience a much more serious mood disorder — postpartum depression.

(Postpartum psychosis, a condition that may involve psychotic symptoms like delusions or hallucinations, is a different disorder and is very rare.)

Unlike the baby blues, PPD doesn’t go away on its own. It can appear days or even months after delivering a baby; it can last for many weeks or months if left untreated. PPD can make it hard for you to get through the day, and it can affect your ability to take care of your baby, or yourself. PPD can affect any woman — women with easy pregnancies or problem pregnancies, first-time mothers and mothers with one or more children, women who are married and women who are not, and regardless of
income, age, race or ethnicity, culture, or education.

What Are the Symptoms of PPD?

The warning signs are different for everyone but may include:

• a loss of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy, including sex

• eating much more, or much less, than you usually do

• anxiety — all or most of the time — or panic attacks

• racing, scary thoughts

• feeling guilty or worthless — blaming yourself

• excessive irritability, anger, or agitation — mood

• sadness, crying uncontrollably for very long periods of time

• fear of not being a good mother

• fear of being left alone with the baby

• misery

• inability to sleep, sleeping too much, difficulty falling or staying asleep

• disinterest in the baby, family, and friends

• difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions

• thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby (see below for numbers to call to get immediate help). If these warning signs or symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, you may need to get help. Whether your symptoms are mild or severe, recovery is possible with proper treatment.

What are risk factors for postpartum depression?
• a change in hormone levels after childbirth

• previous experience of depression or anxiety

• family history of depression or mental illness

• stress involved in caring for a newborn and managing new life changes

• having a challenging baby who cries more than usual, is hard to comfort, or whose
sleep and hunger needs are irregular and hard to predict

• having a baby with special needs (premature birth, medical complications, illness)

• first time motherhood, very young motherhood, or older motherhood

• other emotional stressors, such as the death of a loved one or family problems

•financial or employment problems

• isolation and lack of social support How Common Is PPD?

• Up to 1 in 7 women experience PPD

• For half of women diagnosed with PPD, this is their first episode of depression

• About half of women who are later diagnosed with PPD may have begun experiencing symptoms during pregnancy — so it’s important to seek help early! Getting the right help can make all the difference for you, your baby, and your family.

What can I do?

• Don’t face PPD alone — Seek help from a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider; contact your doctor or other primary health care

• Talk openly about your feelings with your partner, other mothers, friends, and relatives.

• Join a support group for mothers — ask your
health care provider for suggestions if you can’t find one.

• Find a relative or close friend who can help you take care of the baby.

• Get as much sleep or rest as you can even if you have to ask for more help with the  baby — if you can’t rest even when you want to, tell your primary health care provider.

•As soon as your doctor or other primary health care provider says it’s ok, take walks, get exercise.

• Try not to worry about unimportant tasks — be realistic about what you can really do while taking care of a new baby. • Cut down on less important responsibilities.

• Early detection and treatment make all the difference.

• If you or someone you know shows symptoms of depression and anxiety like the ones
discussed here — either during pregnancy or after childbirth — a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider can help.

• Effective treatments for PPD include various forms of psychotherapy, often combined with antidepressant medication. You will learn how to develop skills to manage
feelings and cope with problems.

• Don’t wait — Take action and seek treatment as soon as you notice any of these physical or emotional symptoms. PPD can get worse without treatment. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby…get HELP NOW! Put the baby in a safe place, like a crib. Call a friend or family member for help if you need to.
• Call a suicide hotline (free & staffed all day, every day): National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) National
Strategy for Suicide Prevention: LifeLine 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) Has hotlines for every state

PPD Moms 1-800-PPDMOMS

• Call your psychologist’s or other licensed mental health provider’s emergency number.
• Call your doctor’s or other primary health care provider’s emergency number.
• Go to your local hospital emergency room. Tell someone you trust about what you are feeling; ask him or her to help you take these steps



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Contact Phone_ 804-482-0852 E-mail_ Hours Monday – Thursday 8am-4_30pm

Postpartum Strong® Workshop!

Postpartum Strong Workshop (9)

Are you pregnant, postpartum or planning to have kids? 👶🏼🧒🏾👶🏿👶🏻
Come to our Postpartum Strong® workshop of 2019!
Our workshops are a great way to get connected with other moms, learn about your amazing body and have an engaging Q & A time! (All those things you wanted to know about bladder leakage, uncomfortable sex, weak abs, back pain, etc!)
In this workshop you’ll:
🤰🏻🤱🏽 Learn about common concerns & issues faced by women during pregnancy and postpartum.
💪🏾 Learn how you can regain strength & reduce pain!
🧘‍♀️ Walkaway with expert tips + exercises!
✅ Receive a belly, posture & body mechanics check ($45 value)
Kids are welcome!
Easy parking!