Today I am talking to Dr. Sara Reardon (@the.vagina.whisperer), board-certified pelvic health physical therapist and founder of an online on-demand workout platform for your pelvic floor and core. She's here to talk about all things pelvic floor, dropping basic knowledge we all wish someone would have told us by now but no one has.
Together we work to normalize the conversation, not the pain or the misery.
You might begin to realize that what you're experiencing is more common than you think. But also not necessarily normal. And there is something that you can do about it.
IN THIS EPISODE, WE COVERED...
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Dr. Sara Reardon 0:00
You don't have to feel like your body is broken because you decided to have kids. And I think we feel broken in so many ways already that I mean, our bodies go through such a huge transformation during pregnancy and then during birth with a vaginal or cesarean section. And so I think that we really, it's not you it's the system is not designed to support you and help you rehab after and that's what I really want to change.
Danielle Bettmann 0:27
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean, have too much anxiety, and not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you pop in here buds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here.
Danielle Bettmann 1:39
Hey, it's Danielle. I'm so glad you're here. Today I am talking to Dr. Sara Reardon, board-certified pelvic health physical therapist and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, an online on-demand workout platform for your pelvic floor and core. She's a mom of two boys two years apart, and is Instagram famous with over 500,000 followers.
Danielle Bettmann 2:02
In today's episode, we talk about all things pelvic floor, debunking many misconceptions and dropping basic knowledge we all wish someone would have told us by now but no one has. We talked about power peeing, squatty potties, kegels, constipation, peeing yourself on the trampoline, hemorrhoids and so much more, you might begin to realize that what you're experiencing is more common than you think. But also not necessarily normal. And there is something that you can do about it. So get ready for the full 411 and now you will be "the vagina whisperer" of your friend group. Here is my conversation with Dr. Sara.
Danielle Bettmann 2:49
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. And on today's episode, I'm joined by Dr. Sara, a Board-Certified pelvic floor physical therapist. We are so excited to dive into this topic. But thank you and welcome to the show.
Dr. Sara Reardon 3:04
Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Danielle Bettmann 3:06
Yes. Okay. So right off the bat, we have to prequalify you because you're an expert with like, all of the followers. Are you one of us. Have you ever felt like you're failing motherhood?
Dr. Sara Reardon 3:17
I feel that way on the regular. It's interesting you ask because I would say kind of coming on this podcast, I was thinking of her like, oh, when have I felt that way. And I think obviously more recently with when I lose my temper with my kids, and I am a working mom, I run a business, I run my Instagram account and then I am momming and I love momming that is my most important and favorite job. But I think that I feel so stretched thin so often and so tired that I lose my cool with them regularly and then you just feel terrible because you're like this isn't how I want them to show up yet I'm showing up this way for them.
Dr. Sara Reardon 3:54
But even taking it a step back further. My oldest son is eight years old and when I when he was born, I had a really amazing birth I prepped a ton for birth as a pelvic floor therapist, I felt really prepared. But I struggled so much with breastfeeding. And I think that struggle lasted for three to six months. And I just remember those early early days with lactation consultants and pumping and feeling like I wasn't producing enough and just all of the things and I was like I feel like I'm already failing and this is just week one. And so you realize from the very beginning that there are these seasons are these experiences where we feel like we're just kind of not doing an awesome job yet we're doing the best that we can and so it's definitely been something I've experienced from the very beginning even up until yesterday.
Danielle Bettmann 4:42
Okay, well then you're allowed to join the club.
Dr. Sara Reardon 4:46
I want to know somebody who's not in that club. So
Danielle Bettmann 4:49
you know, I know we have yet to kick any guests off of the off the podcast so that has to say something right. So for like, in general, before we dive into all of your expertise, What has motherhood taught you? If you can sum up like the last eight years? Is there any, like, big takeaway that has been sitting with you lately? Totally.
Dr. Sara Reardon 5:11
I mean, I think that there's a handful of things. And one is, I'm never going to have it all figured out that once I figured out breastfeeding, then I was like, Okay, I'm pregnant again. And then I had a second kid, and they're less than two years apart. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, how do I figure out having two kids? And then we moved, and I started a new job. And I'm like, Wait, how am I a working mom with two kids. And so it just, and then it's like, they're in school now. And I'm like, Wait, this is the first time I'm parenting an eight year old. And so that's a whole new experience for me. And so what I've realized is like, I'm never going to have it all figured out, there's never going to be a time that I feel like, Oh, I've made it. I've got this motherhood thing nailed, you know. And so that's one. And I think the other one is that everything is temporary. I mean, I kind of intellectually knew that. But going through this, you just see that like, gosh, those really hard times when we feel like we're failing, you wake up the next day, and your kids have totally forgotten that you've lost your shit on them the day before, or you realize that it's a new day, and you've got another chance and so, but even those really sweet moments when they're, you know, cuddly, or their babies or their toddlers, it's just all of those really sweet times are also temporary. And those kinds of move on to another season, too. So I would say those are the two biggest things that I feel like I'm still experiencing and learning.
Danielle Bettmann 6:29
Yeah, oh, my gosh. And we could, we could have an entire podcast episode just about that, because of how relevant that is how important that is, how hard that is, and how universal those feelings are. Because you do have to, like, keep learning it in every phase and every stage. And you know, there's, there's those seasons. And when you think you got it figured out, you're gonna be in a new season all of a sudden, and have to basically start over from scratch because your kids aren't who they were last year, right?
Dr. Sara Reardon 6:57
Right totally. And the challenges are different, you know, once they're in school, or they're in sports, it's like, you realize that it's, it's just different. And so I think that it's been allowed me to be a little bit more gentle with myself. And I'm like, okay, just accept, you're never gonna have it all figured out. And yeah, it's also the most important job that I have, you know, so I really tried to kind of I work a lot, but I also really tried to show up and learn how to be a parent because no, there's no handbook on it, you know? So it is a constant learning experience.
Danielle Bettmann 7:25
Yes. Oh my gosh, so true. We can just end the episode right there. There's your takeaways for the week.
Dr. Sara Reardon 7:33
But let's talk about the pelvic floor too.
Danielle Bettmann 7:35
Also that. Okay. Okay. Well, I when I came across you, I was reading an article, and it basically sums up it said, You are non judgmental, and entertaining, but also so honest, and you do all three so well. And I was like, there we are, like, that's exactly the type of guests that I look for. That means that you're a good fit for not only my audience, but like, no wonder, you know, like, you're, you're just finding people all the time and people love what you do, because that's exactly what we're all craving is that that honesty, just being able to like, be real, be authentic, be silly, and like not be afraid of it. So talk us through, how did you become "the vagina whisperer".
Dr. Sara Reardon 8:25
So, the vagina whisperer was the name of my Instagram account where I've shared tons of pelvic floor tips, pregnancy, postpartum menopause, peeing, pooping stuff, and I started that account six, a little over six years ago, when I was pregnant with my second son, and I was sending emails and answering questions for just my group of girlfriends. They were like, Hey, do I need to do perineal massage? Or can I do planks during pregnancy? Or, you know, just tons of you know, what's the best belly support for pregnancy because we were all having babies around the same time. And they're the ones who called me the vagina whisperer, because I was a pelvic floor therapist, I am still one. But when they kind of learned I just am like, oh, I work with people and their vagina is and help with pain and pooping and sex. And so that was their name for me.
Dr. Sara Reardon 9:10
And so I started the Instagram account for them and then they started sharing it with their friends. So it just really organically grew during a time where social media started becoming a place where people were looking for information. And then I you know, was I had my second son and I was showing up on social media with like, a messy mom bun and leaky boobs and just on a struggle bus, and I think people really connected with oh, this is what motherhood really looks like. And I was not filtered or pretty, and I felt less than I also felt like I was failing because I wasn't showing up with like, makeup on and a bra. And like, you know, a beautiful kitchen table with the decorated home. I was like, Oh, we are a mess here. And so I think the information was really helpful for people but I also think that the way that I was showing up was just like, Okay, this is just all that I have right now. So this is That's all I can give, you know, when it was just kind of "hot mess express" behind the scenes.
Danielle Bettmann 10:04
Which is so validating, and every friend group needs, you know, "a vagina whisperer".
Dr. Sara Reardon 10:12
Well, and no one's educated us on that. And so I don't expect every friend group to have one. But I do think it's helpful to know that we exist, that pelvic floor therapist exists, that we are resources for women at any stage of life with pelvic floor issues from, you know, I have moms who I, you know, work with their young daughters who were in high school or college and have difficulty inserting tampons, or they have period pain or they had painful sex. And then I work with their moms who, you know, they have prolapse or urinary leakage or, you know, things where it's also limiting their life, their quality of life at a later stage. And so you just realize that, like, if you have a pelvic floor, it may have issues and we are experts that you can go to for help for that.
Danielle Bettmann 10:55
Yeah. So differentiate what a pelvic floor therapist does versus an OBGYN.
Dr. Sara Reardon 11:02
So an OB GYN is a medical doctor and they really I mean, they're like, vagina/uterus specialists. So they, you know, obviously work with infections and you know, more pathological diagnoses, but also a lot of pregnancy and birth related things. So, it's really like they're keeping mom healthy. They're helping you prepare for baby their birthing baby. And then you kind of just check in once a month, once a year for birth control, and if you have any infections or anything. A pelvic floor therapist is.. we're physical therapists and physical therapists specialize in working with muscles. And there are muscles in the pelvic region, culture, pelvic floor that help support your organs like your uterus, bladder, and rectum. Those muscles help with peeing and pooping, they help support your organs, they help with supporting your back and spine. They help with breathing. So if there are any issues with peeing, pooping, sex, you know, any of these things, your muscles can likely be involved. And so as a pelvic PT, we help you kind of, are those muscles weak? Do we need to strengthen them? Are they too tense and we need to work to relax them? Are you about to have a baby? How can we prepare your pelvic floor from birth to relax it and make sure that you can lengthen it? Or have you had a C section do we need to work, you know scar tissue mobilization and core rehab. So really thinking about all the ways that this part of her body is affected at different seasons of our life. And we're the muscle specialist that can help with that.
Danielle Bettmann 12:24
So it's more than kegels.
Dr. Sara Reardon 12:26
Oh, like so much more. Kegels are like a sliver of the work that we do. I mean, kegels are a pelvic floor contraction. So like, say you want to hold in your PE you do a kegel, but you know, I would say some people need strengthening but doing Kegel is in the carpool lane isn't going to be what really strengthens your pelvic floor, it's learning how to do different contractions or build it into exercise or function like squatting and lifting and you know, all those things, but a lot of people have tension in their pelvic floor. And when you think about tension, you don't want to do a tightening or a Kegel exercise, because that will make it worse. But you know, if you have too much tension in your pelvic floor, it can lead to painful sex, painful bowel movements, constipation, straining with bowel movements or urination, incomplete bladder emptying. So lots of things were just like, I have tight muscles in my neck and I get really bad headaches. If I'm too stressed, and they get tension. It's the same thing in your pelvic floor. But we see those symptoms show up in a different way. And kegels would be the wrong thing for that.
Danielle Bettmann 13:24
That makes complete sense. But no one's ever explained it that way before.
Dr. Sara Reardon 13:28
Exactly right they're just muscle. So people always like oh my gosh, I can't believe that this is physical therapy. And like me either. Like I thought I was going to be a sports trainer for the New Orleans Saints. But I'm like a vagina trainer, you know, so but it's just another part of your body just like if you had back pain or an ankle sprain. And so we really work to rehab those muscles. But nobody teaches us that these muscles even exist, so we don't even know how to address them if there is a problem in that area until more recently.
Danielle Bettmann 13:56
So do you go to school for physical therapy then specialize or do you specialize from the get go? How does that work?
Dr. Sara Reardon 14:02
Yeah, so I go to I went to physical therapy school for three years after I have a bachelor's degree. So I have a doctorate degree in physical therapy. But during that time in physical therapy school I learned about.. back then it was called women's health now it's called pelvic health because we see all bodies, all genders. Then after that I got specialized training and they have a board certification in pelvic health. So you know, you're learning some of it in PT school, but you kind of learn everything and then you specialize in it. But I started right out of graduate school doing pelvic floor. So I'm been doing this for 17 years. Like, don't come to me for like, you know, an ankle sprain or a wrist injury because I'm not your girl, but like if you can't poop or you're having a baby like I got you, you know,
Danielle Bettmann 14:43
which arguably is more relevant, right?
Dr. Sara Reardon 14:45
Like everybody we do it all the time. So I'm like, You need help. I got it.
Danielle Bettmann 14:50
Yes, it to be fair, I also sprained my ankle last last winter, but that was that was trying to do like a dance workout from home and just like stepped off a little Well, Matt awkwardly. So I mean, that also happens in Motherhood.
Dr. Sara Reardon 15:04
It does and I see pts and acupuncturist and you know, for all kinds of things. So, it's so funny, I'm in my 40s now and I'm like, if I sleep on my pillow the wrong way, I get like neck pain, and I can't turn to the right the next day. So everything's a little bit more delicate with aging.
Danielle Bettmann 15:18
I know I hate it. I had to grab my phone off of my nightstand and did like a big sweep, you know, spin, and then I just, I paid for it. So the next two days.
Dr. Sara Reardon 15:28
I know. Exactly, exactly. It's wild.
Danielle Bettmann 15:32
So okay, so you know, we know kind of more of what you do. And I also haven't seen my OB dressed up in a vulva costume. So that would probably be another differentiation.
Dr. Sara Reardon 15:41
You know, there is an OB that I Love on Her name's Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, and she's on social media. And she also has a vulva costume. But it's funny, I never thought getting being a board certified doctor PT that I would be dressed up in a vulva costume on social media, educating people on their pelvic floors and their bodies. But, you know, I think part of my joy is also just bringing levity to these situations where it's like we.. these are parts of her body like any other part of her body. And I think that there's been so much shame around talking about this part of our body. It's really just been seen for sex. Yeah, and but outside of that, it's like peeing, pooping, periods are gross, right? So, but they're also just part of our lives, and they're not gross. They're just like anything else. And so it's really to kind of, you know, not to lighten people's experiences that are very, you know, difficult for the quality of life. But to just lighten the way that we talk about them. I always say my goal is to never normalize these problems: peeing your pants, painful sex, not normal. But let's normalize the conversations. And that's really my goal in this.
Danielle Bettmann 16:45
Yeah that's an important differentiation. It's not just like, Oh, yep, that's the way it is. Everybody, you know, is like that, and it sucks. But it's like, no more people experience what you were experiencing. So you can take away the shame of that, and then seek the support that you deserve to be able to treat that. That's exactly right. So do you ever experience trolls, then? Like, how do you deal with that?
Dr. Sara Reardon 17:08
I think everybody on social media experiences trolls, you know, I would say that 98% of the folks who follow comment are really appreciative. And I think that those are the comments and messages that keep me going. And they're like, okay, because we're just putting all of this stuff out there. We're putting ourselves out there. Yeah, really, in an effort to just help people. And it's been wonderful that has kind of created a whole exercise platform that I have in a whole community. But you know, it's really still based on support and education. And when I get those messages that like, oh, the program's helping, or like, Oh, thank you for this. I never knew about pelvic PT before you like that's so encouraging, and keeps me motivated. But there have been some really awful messages. I mean, some of it is related to, you know, more political, social cultural topics, which I really try to stay away from, I have my own personal beliefs. And I have posted about them in the past. But I also don't always have the emotional bandwidth to navigate those times, because I'm also processing them as a mom, as a woman. But I mean, I was in a yahoo.com article about the vulva suit and pelvic floor education. And there were messages like, oh, you know what the problem with vaginas is? What's attached to them? Or like, oh, where's that? Where's the "penis whisperer" and the "dick doc" and like, why are we giving you know, male the same attention, we're giving this vulva and like, just really gross stuff. And yucky messages from males. Pictures of penises have been messaged to me, I mean, just really gross, totally gross, inappropriate stuff. And I'm like, This is what's wrong with the world, you know, but the majority of it is not that and I have really tried to stick in my skin and either delete, lock, just not engage when those things happen.
Danielle Bettmann 18:57
Oh yeah, that's gotta be almost a full time job like adjusting to that.
Dr. Sara Reardon 19:01
Well, now I have help. And you know, I have kind of a virtual assistant who helps me and sometimes she'll get a message and she'll be like, Hey, listen, I just want to let you know, I'm gonna delete this because I don't think it's helpful for you to see or, Hey, the comments are going a little bit crazy. Do you want to jump in and navigate this or just kind of let it roll. And that's, that's really helped me take a step back. Because even though you're a brand and a presence, like it does feel really personal. And when you're in this field, like you just want to help and when you feel like you're not doing that you you definitely start taking it personally. Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 19:31
Have there been has there been any mindset shifts or like mantras that you've really, you know, clung on to through some of the ups and downs?
Dr. Sara Reardon 19:39
Yeah I mean, I think that, you know, kind of going back to where we started this conversation that all of this is temporary, so I still feel like I work hard, but I'm also like, what if Instagram shuts down right now or forever and the vagina whisperer account closes like, I still have to make sure that I'm healthy that I have a great relationship with my husband with my kids that I have a full rich life outside of a social media platform. And so there was a healthy sense of distance I try to keep from it, it is a business now, but it's a little bit of realization that it's, you know, maintained by this platform that I don't have any control over.
Dr. Sara Reardon 20:14
And then the other thing is just really staying, I think connected with the community. I mean, it's funny, because I feel like, the moms on social media like helped raise me just because I was growing as a mom. I mean, I can't imagine the past six years of motherhood of like, when I have a bad day, and I posted by that, I mean, moms come out of the woodwork and they're like, Girl, we have been there, I got you, you're gonna make it. tomorrow's a new day. And those, I mean, almost makes me emotional. Because I'm like, before becoming a mom, you just didn't know that there was this whole community that even though we may have all differences in how we parent or mother, it's just like, kind of comes together. And it's like, we're gonna carry you when you can't walk anymore. And I don't even know these people. And it's just awesome. And so, yeah, I think that that's been a really great experience to just be part of this club I didn't even know existed. And now you're in it. And you're like, Oh, I there's no going back. You know, it's been on Yeah,
Danielle Bettmann 21:09
yeah. Oh, that's so like, there's always the highs and the lows and those highs, you just have to keep coming back to because it's, it's worth it at the end of the day, and to have those relationships and, you know, make it about the people that really keeps you going and keeps you focused. And I'm glad that there's that level of kind of detachment from day to day and some of that outcome and just remembering like, it's one aspect of my life. And I want to make sure I'm you know, continuing to focus on all all of them. Super healthy perspective for everybody, no matter kind of what you get wrapped up in in this season.
Dr. Sara Reardon 21:44
Danielle Bettmann 21:45
So let's dive into a few misconceptions. What are some of like, the biggest things that you end up debunking on a regular basis?
Dr. Sara Reardon 21:57
I think one of them you just mentioned is like, Oh, just do your kegels. And like, you can't have a blanket exercise for anything wrong with your pelvic floor. So it's like saying, Oh, you have back pain, just do planks, right. So there's so much more that could be involved in so I think that really what's important about pelvic floor health, I really think of it as a couple different aspects is like, a lot of it is prevention. Like nobody has taught us how to pee or poop. So when you I'll say this for all the moms listening, just saying no to power peeing. So just say no to power peeing means so often as busy moms, we go to the bathroom and we push our pee out. And that's a big no, no, because your bladder is a muscle that really pushes the pee out. And all you need to do is just sit and chill and relax. And so like relaxing your pelvic floor allows your bladder to empty better, but when we push our pee out, it can lead to weakness, it can lead to prolapse, it can lead to urinary leakage, so like just chill when you're peeing and don't rush. So that's one that like, we have to rush our pee and all that stuff. The other one is don't do Kegel is when you pee. We're like, Oh, if I'm giggling when I am peeing, I can just strengthen my pelvic floor. And I'm like, No, again, when you're peeing, you should just be sitting relaxing and letting it flow. Kegel is aren't the answer for everyone. So oftentimes, it's you know, based on you need to relax your pelvic floor with stretches, there are different devices called vaginal dilators or vaginal trainers that help soften your muscles. So it's really much more focused on lengthening and softening than it is on tightening, depending on kind of if you have tense muscles versus weak muscles. And that really, you know that the biggest one is that like, pelvic floor issues aren't normal. I mean, we experience them more frequently with aging, but there are things that you can do to prevent them. And there's things that you can do to treat them. Like I always say diapers do not have to be our destiny. Yes, many of us will experience leakage later in life. But you can strengthen your muscles. You can use topical hormone creams that help plump up the tissues, you can use different devices to help support your bladder like you just you don't have to feel like your body is broken because you decided to have kids. And I think we feel broken in so many ways already that I mean, our bodies go through such a huge transformation during pregnancy and then during birth with a vaginal or cesarean section. And so I think that we really, it's not you it's the system is not designed to support you and help you rehab after and that's what I really want to change.
Danielle Bettmann 24:20
Yes, I know I'm sure you hear all the time. Like, why didn't I know this sooner? All the time? What are some of those other like big epiphanies where you're like, if I if I could just download this into every mom's brain, we will be so much better off. Yeah.
Dr. Sara Reardon 24:35
So some of the things I just mentioned. Another one is that oftentimes moms who've had a C section think like oh, my pelvic floor is fine, but your pelvic floor changes just during pregnancy. And so I mean, a lot of people experience urinary leakage, prolapse, hemorrhoids, constipation, abdominal separation just during pregnancy, regardless of what type of birth you had. And so I think that hosts this area and moms it's really important. and that they also follow up with rehab after or do some, you know, strengthening your recovery programs. Because you can have painful sex, you can have constipation and complete bladder emptying due to scar tissue restriction of your abdomen from that scar. Also, painful sex is really common after giving birth. And people think that that's normal, but it's not. There's a lot of things you can do to help soften the tissues if you've had a perineal tear, which a lot of people do if you've had a C section that can cause painful sex. And then another one is even like periods, people think that periods are like, Oh, my, it's just painful. Like if you had a period where you miss school, you missed work, you were so debilitated nauseous in pain that you could not function that is not normal. And there's a lot of other more significant conditions like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, or add no meiosis where those are real medical problems that birth control and like a heating pad are not going to fix. And so we've really seen so many moms just starting to self diagnose themselves. And they're like, I just thought it was like this for everyone on like, it's not. And it's such a quality of life issue that if we learn this, then we can educate our daughters about it as well to be like, Okay, this isn't normal. And then we can start seeking some help from specialists and things like that.
Danielle Bettmann 26:15
Yes. So, so important.
Danielle Bettmann 26:18
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Danielle Bettmann 29:04
So you're starting to kind of paint the picture of what is common after motherhood, but paints a picture of what normal is like as in the goal that we don't realize is accessible or attainable because we've just gotten so used to whatever our lived experience has been. So
Dr. Sara Reardon 29:23
in my ideal world, which is again, what we're working toward is that every postpartum mom would follow up with a pelvic floor therapist, six weeks postpartum, and they would just like your doctor or your midwife, check your abdomen for abdominal separation, check your pelvic floor for weakness, tension scar tissue, and then you would get you know, an individualized plan like do you need to strengthen? Do you need to work on more relaxation stuff? Do we do core rehab for back pain? So a lot of things are common, like back pain or painful intercourse or urinary leakage, but then there's no follow up and I'm like, if no offense against men I love Man, I have two boys, I have a husband. But I'm like if a man was walking around and couldn't have sex, and was peeing his pants all day, and couldn't poop, or had pain with bowel movements, like, the world would stop. And so let's get, we're just supposed to return to work and take care of our kids and go back to sex and exercise and like function like nothing's happened. And so it's not that there's things that are like normal and acceptable, it's just like, hey, these things are super common. But working on a pelvic rehab program, or seeing a therapist can really help change those and help you feel better and recover after a huge transformation for your body. So and then also help you feel more competent and having other kids I mean, I think I work with moms where birth was traumatic, or their postpartum issues are so severe that they don't want to have other children. And I think that that's really something I tried to, you know, just help them with, like feeling really confident going into another birth or feeling confident going back into exercise, or just having a better understanding of how those bought their bodies working and giving them tools like, Okay, you leak, let's work on strengthening, let's get you a bladder support, let's find a way to get you doing the things you want to do where this doesn't impact your quality of life. Yeah,
Danielle Bettmann 31:15
so would you say every mom, like it's normal for every mom to pee while jumping on the trampoline?
Dr. Sara Reardon 31:22
No, because I don't pee when jumping on the trampoline. So I think it's common. I think there's some things that contribute to it. Like, you know how many births you've had, if you had a long pushing stage during birth, if you have, there's a genetic component, if you strain with bowel movements, so I don't think everybody experiences it. But it's common, but it's also a sign that something's not working the way that it should. And I should probably start getting some help for it, because it doesn't get better over time. And there's been some research that shows that, you know, every year after the age of 35, women lose 2% of their pelvic floor muscle strength. So that's just with aging and hormones. So if you imagine it's 35, I'm leaking, like, it's 65. If you don't do anything about it, like just with aging, you're starting to lose muscle mass down there. So you have to really be proactive, supporting your pelvic floor, and I feel it at 41. I've had two kids and have amazing births. I'm like, that's nice was a little dicey, right? So I'm like, Okay, I need to start like working on this. And because you pan, it doesn't just keep working for you, you have to, just like with our bodies in menopause are like, okay, you've got to eat this, you've got to do stuff for bone density, you've got to do strength training workouts, you got to, you know, if you want to take hormones, do it, we have to kind of start thinking about our pelvic floor in the same way.
Danielle Bettmann 32:38
Yeah, that totally makes sense. And never heard it that way. It's not something we all got a seminar on, when we turned 35.
Dr. Sara Reardon 32:47
Right. And I don't, I don't say it to scare people, it's more like, I want us to feel really empowered, you know, I want us to live really full lives, and at least have some awareness of what our options are, versus just thinking that we have to just deal with it.
Danielle Bettmann 33:00
Right? Because the alternative is adjusting our lifestyle to be successful, given what we feel comfortable doing or able to do. And then that just becomes more and more limited, really early on. Like, that's sad that we can't keep up with our kids or be able to be as active as you want to be. And you know, just kind of have to resign to that fact.
Dr. Sara Reardon 33:20
It doesn't. I think it's also I mean, it also puts us in the closet with a lot of the things that we experienced, because these things affect other issues, other arenas of our life. So if you have pain with sex, or difficulty with orgasms, or whatever, you don't want to have sex, and that can cause relational issues. If you you need exercise for your mental health, for your anxiety. We hear this all the time. You know, this exercise is what you need to do for anxiety and depression. Like if you can't work out because you pee your pants, that's affects your quality of life, if you can't socialize or travel, because you're worried about leakage of pee or poop, where you don't know if you're gonna have access to a bathroom, that's important, you know. And so I think it the ripples of these things go far even into our workplaces, even into our day to day life of being able to pick up our babies or bend over to give them a bath or, you know, snuggle our toddler when we had a C section and have a newborn baby. I mean, again, I think even just the the focus of this, you know, your podcast is like, how do we feel like we're failing. And when we feel like we can't do the things we know we want to do or feel like we know are good for us because we have this limitation, It just feeds into that whole cycle of I'm not good enough. something's broken in me, I'm failing, right?
Danielle Bettmann 34:32
It becomes a self image thing. It becomes a quality of life thing. And yeah, you just painted that picture. So while of what those ripple effects can be, that we may not have even realized that it may maybe been really slow evolution and like subconsciously, something that we're just not even addressing on a conscious level because we haven't had the resources or the access or the you know, opportunities for that conversation.
Dr. Sara Reardon 34:58
Totally, totally. So I I think that that's a big part of it. And like, you know, my mom didn't even know that this specialty existed and so, and even I was in it for 10 years before I did like a TED talk about it. And she was like, oh, that's, you know, and I'm like, Yes, Mom, this is what I've gone for a decade, you know? Yeah. And so it's just like, even now, they're just starting to have more awareness. And now that we are of a generation where we have access to so much more info, I'm like, awesome, then we can educate our kiddos Even my kids know, like, don't push when you pee, buddy, like, just breathe, you know? Or like, put that stool under your feet when you're pooping. You know, it's just these little things that we can teach them that I really hope it changes just how prepare the next generation feels as well.
Danielle Bettmann 35:40
Yes, yes. And I feel like there's always that caveat of like, if I don't do it for myself, I'll do it for my kids. Totally. I'll make sure that things are better for them. And this is a huge thing. I know, for me having two girls. It's definitely something that I want to be able to have way more conversations with than I had ever had with my mom, which was none. But
Dr. Sara Reardon 36:00
That's most of us, I think, right? That's most of us, you know.
Danielle Bettmann 36:06
So well. Well, you mentioned it, and we'll circle back. We got some tips on peeing. Let's get some tips on pooping. What's the 411? What's the do's and don'ts?
Dr. Sara Reardon 36:14
Awesome. So for everybody who poops, which is all of us, I really recommend you get a squatty potty or a stool under your feet. Putting a stool under your feet helps put you in more of a squatting position. And that really helps your pelvic floor muscles relaxed so that you can poop better. And like once you get one your life is going to change for the better and you're never going back. So you know, given Squatty Potty there are 25 bucks, put it on your holiday list. So that's one. Don't strain when you poop. So instead of holding your breath and pushing out, that can lead to hemorrhoids or prolapse. I tell people to exhale like they're blowing out a bunch of birthday candles. And it's something where if you stray or hold your breath, it just it actually causes your muscles to tighten up more. Versus if you have your feet on the stool, you kind of lean forward onto your elbows like you're in a squatting position and then you exhale like you're blowing out a bunch of birthday candles, it helps you relax better to empty the tank. And that's actually how I teach my kids to poop. I put a stool under their feet. And then I give them a straw like those little twirly straws, they get a birthday party and I keep them in the bathroom. And instead of them having to like grimace to poop, I tell them to blow through the straw. And for some reason, it just helps them breathe enough to kind of relax their muscles to empty. And then another big thing is like too much dairy too much processed food and not enough hydration are some of the key components that cause constipation. I just see more people with hemorrhoids and fissures and you know, prolapse from straining during bowel movements. And all of that affects your pelvic floor. So it's it's diet is hydration. And it's how you poop that really can help as well.
Danielle Bettmann 37:43
So talk to me a little bit more about hemorrhoids. If you get a hemorrhoid after labor, does it stay with you forever? And like how do you how do you treat it, and how common is that?
Dr. Sara Reardon 37:53
So super common, and they're super common during pregnancy, and they're super common postpartum. And really at any stage. You know, a hemorrhoid is a prolapsed vein. So think of it like you get varicose veins in your legs during pregnancy, because there's just more pressure on the vessel wall. It's the same thing. But that vein just happens to be in your butthole. And so from straining with constipation during pregnancy, because progesterone causes constipation, and you have so much progesterone during pregnancy, hemorrhoids are really common. So you treat it by not straining. Using some of the techniques we talked about. I really recommend something called Magnesium Citrate. So there's an the brand is called Natural Calm and it's a powder mix or it gummies that you can take and it just keeps magnesium citrate keeps your poop really soft. So with like you don't have to strain to push it. So I tell people to take that nightly, you can take it during pregnancy postpartum, even kiddos can take it but just always check with your medical provider. So those are some of the things you want to make sure that you're addressing and then sitz baths when you have hemorrhoids, like putting your button like a little bath of Epsom salt three times a day, who has that time but it's because the day for 15 minutes helps. But once a hemorroid reduces, it just becomes like a little skin tag so it looks like a little skin tag on the outside of your butthole. So it always kind of that skin tag stays down but the hemorrhoid will reduce and that the hemorrhoid comes back with weight gain or like being on your feet for a long time or pregnancy or straining. It'll feel more like a little blueberry like the vein gets in gorge and then you've got to really work through getting your poop soft again, treating the tissue with you know Epsom salt baths and then you can use hemorrhoid creams and stuff like that too, but it's really not straining that's going to help you improve.
Danielle Bettmann 38:07
Okay, so it just kind of ebbs and flows then.
Dr. Sara Reardon 38:59
It ebbs and flows. So you know that you always have the propensity but when it comes back, they're like are up something's not working. I was, you know, I strained for too long or it happened to me travel because travel constipation is really common or you have a heavy workout, you're lifting heavy weights and you're not breathing properly. So we're always going to be a little bit vulnerable to it, but there are ways that you can definitely manage it.
Danielle Bettmann 39:52
Okay, because that's that's like one of those things that you're not going to bring up and talk to your friends like how are your hemorrhoids doing?
Dr. Sara Reardon 39:58
Yeah, now we're going to be talking about them because we're like, problem all right, you know what I'm telling you I am like the pocket "vagina whisperer" for so many friends male and female. And when there's an issue, they're like, Okay, hemorrhoids back. What am I doing? I'm like, I got you. Here's the email. So, and even in my like online platform, I have all of these videos about like, how to properly pee how to properly poop, if you have hemorrhoids, how to address them. Because we're just not being taught about these things. It's like, put this cream on it, you know, stick this between your butt cheeks, and like, call it a day. But so much of our medical field is based on I don't want to say damage control, but on like just managing the symptoms. But I'm like, I want to teach us how do we prevent them? What's causing this? And then how can we change how we're pooping and all those things so that we prevent it from getting worse?
Danielle Bettmann 40:47
Right, right. It's seems like such a pipe dream. And we still don't even have like, the main vocabulary that we need to even like talk about these things and feel comfortable about it. So I love that you're already compiling all of those resources in a way that we can just like in the comfort of our own home, hit play.
Dr. Sara Reardon 41:10
Totally, I mean, it's what I do all day. And I think that the other thing is, you know, people come into my clinic, and they're like, am I the only one who has this problem? Or how many people do you see, I'm like, I see, there have been times I've seen 40 people a week who have pelvic floor problems, like you are not alone. We just don't talk about them. And it's actually okay, if you don't want to talk about them, but talk about them to me. And so I think it's one of the things we're you we're not alone, if you have pelvic floor issues, we just we're not super comfortable talking about these really intimate issues of our lives. But they definitely exist, and there are definitely resources to help you.
Danielle Bettmann 41:43
Which, you know, speaking of can't give a better foray into tell us more about your resources and how people can connect with them.
Dr. Sara Reardon 41:50
Awesome. So I'm on Instagram as @the.vagina.whisperer and on tik tok as @thevagwhisperer, but I My website is thevaginawhisperer.com. And it's really an online it's exercise program for pelvic floor and core workout. So it's I've worked out for pregnancy, for postpartum for strengthening if you're in menopause. But then I also have a really popular one that's on pelvic floor relaxation, if you have painful sex or pelvic floor tension, I think so many of the things that we see are based on like strong pelvic floor or tight public forum. But the reality is, that is just not what a lot of people need. And so we really want to be and you get a whole quiz to figure out like, okay, which direction do I need to go? Where do I start? And so it just really gives people something that it doesn't replace in person therapy, but it's an adjunct, it's, if you can't afford it, if you can't access one, it's $29 a month, which I feel like is pretty reasonable as low as $21 a month. And I found that I'm like, Okay, I spent 20 bucks at Starbucks on a Saturday, like, it really just gives you their 10 minute workout. And so they're just really accessible for people's lives. Like, I'm a busy mom. And when I made this about a year and a half ago, I was like, Okay, I can't do 45 minute workouts like that is just too much for me to bite off. So I was like, I can do 10 minutes, three times a week, and then that's what it is. And so it's just really based off of like, what do I need as a busy mom myself?
Danielle Bettmann 43:09
Yeah. Oh, no, that's perfect. Because 45 minute workouts No, work. No.
Dr. Sara Reardon 43:14
And that's such a big thing to bite even 30 minutes sometimes. So I'm like, but I've got 10 minutes that I do have, you know, and so I think that that's how most of us feels like, okay, I can give 10 minutes of myself to this. And it just helps you feel like you're doing something to address the issues versus just dealing with it.
Danielle Bettmann 43:30
Yes. Oh, so good. And you're also writing a book I hear?
Dr. Sara Reardon 43:34
oh, yeah, girl, So this was a big passion project that I took on. And I was really approached by a publishing company that was like, Hey, we follow you, we're really interested in this work. And there's no other books out there that are really addressing this. And so yeah, we kind of got together and came up with something and I'm writing it now kind of a very similar, you know, model to what my Instagram is and what my online platform is, but it's really pretty much everything we talked about, like, what is normal for periods? And then what do you do if you have an issue? Here's how to insert a tampon, a menstrual cup or disc. If you're having this type of pain, who do you go see the same thing with like, peeing and pooping and there's so much more to learn? Like, I mean, people have overactive bladders or, you know, I mean, nighttime urgency, so just these things and I'm like, nobody's teaching us about our bodies. And it's really just a step one of like, how do you get to understand your body better? Here are the tools to help you at home? And even how do you have these conversations with your medical providers? How do you have these conversations with your kids? So just really opening those doors for kind of awareness education and you know, a pelvic floor one on one that we didn't we didn't even know before this conversation hemorrhoids. were related to your pelvic floor and now it's like, all right, everybody's gonna be taking sitz baths and, you know, getting your body potty so it just, I'm really excited about it. It'll be out in early 2025 By but I'm finishing it up next summer. So,
Danielle Bettmann 45:02
okay, is there a waitlist, we can sign up for it? There is.
Dr. Sara Reardon 45:05
So it's on my, it's on my Instagram link. So if you go to my Instagram link, again, it's @the.vagina.whisper, there's a link that you can sign up, and I'll keep you posted.
Danielle Bettmann 45:14
Okay, we'll put all that in the show notes. That way, it's easy to click from because I know I'll be very anxious about that. Thank you.
Dr. Sara Reardon 45:20
I mean, that's my hope. And it's called Floored, which is awesome. Yeah, my brother in law came up with that title. And we're brainstorming, and I think it's one of those things of like, well, we didn't even know that this existed. But it's so important. And it's clearly something I love just educating about, yes,
Danielle Bettmann 45:35
no, it, you could not be more passionate about it. And it comes through and it's so. So the last question that I ask every guest that comes on, is how are you the mom, your kids need?
Dr. Sara Reardon 45:49
Oh, such a great question. I hope I'm the mom that they need. So I think I was one of four kids. And I was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs. And she is an amazing woman. And she gives me the inspiration to get through the hard days, because I don't know how she did what she did. But, you know, I have an Asian background. And it wasn't a particularly nurturing style. And so for them, I think a lot of it is I have two boys and who they both have very different personalities and sensitivity levels, but really trying to show up for them in like a very emotional way in the way that it's like, Hey, if you need a cry, cry, buddy, it's totally fine. Instead of like shutting down and holding the tears in. Or if you really opening the door for them to talk to me, if they come to me with something that they did wrong. I'm like, You're never gonna get in trouble. And I tell them that because if they're like, Hey, I did this at school, and I said a bad word. I just want them to know that they're not going to get in trouble and be scared of me that we're going to work through it together, and I'm going to support them and they don't go to my husband, and he knows this. They're like, Mom, I gotta tell you something. You can't tell dad. And so I'm like, Well, dad, and I don't keep secrets. But it's one of those things where we're just really, it's just much more open, it's much more emotional, because I'm emotional. And I always tell my husband like my husband's emotionally constipated, and I have emotional diarrhea. And so we're trying to raise kids, some kids somewhere in the middle. But if it was like, you went to emotionally constipated patients and parents, like, that's not good for your kids, you know, so just as boys trying to show up for them in a way, that just gives them a range of, you know, normalization for how they feel and ways to express it.
Danielle Bettmann 47:24
I'm gonna I'm gonna steal that because I feel like most parents end up having one that is more constipated and more diarrhea. Totally.
Dr. Sara Reardon 47:33
And we say, we joke about all the time, my husband like, Thank God for you, I would have no idea because he's, you know, I think even for boys, they feel the pressure of tough and, you know, just, you know, get back up and like, yeah, no, you got to get back up. But you can cry, like, that's fine. You know, and just never telling them, don't cry, don't cry, because I'm like, that's just like, my husband has to work to shed a tear. And for me, it just flows. So I just want them to feel having come from a background that wasn't super affectionate or nurturing. I think I just really try to provide that for them. They are lucky to have you that well. I'm lucky to have them too. They teach me just as much as I teach them. So
Danielle Bettmann 48:08
I believe it. Yeah, I believe that saying my my house.
Dr. Sara Reardon 48:11
Thank you so much.
Danielle Bettmann 48:13
Thank you again, for your time, your wisdom, your honesty, for talking about the awkward topics because Lord knows we need it. And we're so grateful for your resources and just keep up your hard work. We really appreciate it.
Danielle Bettmann 48:26
Same to you. Thanks, Danielle.
Danielle Bettmann 48:33
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.
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