What would it be like to have more medical practitioners focusing on more care for Mothers postpartum? Is there a better way to support new parents in those weeks/months after their new baby enters the world?
Given the things I’ve heard Mamas say – it seems like we could do better. And I have good news friends. There’s a woman on a mission to do just that. Dr. Rachel Sterry, who prefers to be called Dr. Rachel, is the warrior woman who is FitMama PDX!
Dr. Rachel’s goal revolves around realigning our priorities when it comes to women’s postpartum health and checkups. She is a Naturopathic Doctor who is focused on women’s pre and postpartum health. She has three main areas of health that she focuses on, which she compares to a three-legged stool. But more on that in a bit….
I’ve been following Dr. Rachel on social media for the better part of the last year, and I just love how she shows up in the most relatable, authentic way, being unapologetically herself. And… once you head on over to her website you’ll see she’s already been using superhero mom images to reflect not only her brand, but her warrior status too!
She and her husband (they met at a gym!) live in SE Portland with their children. They love getting outside any chance they get. When Rachel was pregnant with their son, they made a pact to get out of the city at least once a month. A pact they continue to uphold. Whether it’s a quick trip to the coast or a longer trip beyond Oregon they are always up for an adventure. Dr. Rachel firmly believes in the restorative nature of spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air.
Dr. Rachel’s Roots
Dr. Rachel grew up in Louisville, Kentucky – and the medical field interested her from a very young age — playing doctor with her friends at age five. She remembers once having her friend lie down on the table, and pulling a stuffed animal out as if she was delivering a baby.
She attended Colby College in Maine where she double majored in psychology and anthropology and was on the pre-med track. One day, as she was browsing through the career fair at her college, she stumbled upon a booth set up by Bastyr University – College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle. This was the first time she ever heard about naturopathic medicine. She was intrigued and started thinking that this could be an alternative to traditional medical school. Because, she had already shadowed many different physicians, where she witnessed a lot of prescription and chart writing but not strong connections with patients — which she didn’t love.
Dr. Rachel’s Naturopathy Journey
After being introduced to naturopathic medicine as a field, she shadowed a naturopath and researched the only three naturopathic colleges (at that time) in the U.S. Which were in Seattle, Portland, & Tempe. So, she checked out all three and finally landed on Bastyr in Seattle. She liked that they were a little heavier on the sciences, very akin to the first year or two of traditional medical school.
After finishing up her clinicals at NUNM in Portland, Dr. Rachel began working with a family medical clinic in Portland’s SE Woodstock neighborhood. She worked there for a few years and learned a lot about family medicine, but she knew that ultimately, she wanted to focus entirely on women’s health. Her own pregnancy with her son is when Dr. Rachel decided it was time to branch out and start her own practice, FitMama PDX.
At FitMama PDX Dr. Rachel works with women from pre-conception through postpartum care. She practices telemedicine which means she has patients all over the world who can show up to appointments with her in the comfort of their own home.
Dr. Rachel knows that there is this notion that patients can’t push back or question the medical community. But she does things differently in her practice, she loves being able to show up and educate her patients, giving them the power to make their own decisions about their health and their lives. She says, “the beauty of naturopathic medicine is that, although I am well versed in alternative modalities. I also have training in pharmacology and my license allows me to prescribe standard medications. So, I am able to help my patients make an informed choice by giving them options. I can tell them here are the two roads we could take — you pick which one is right for you.” She feels very strongly that we all need to be well taken care of and that is the kind of thoughtful care you get when working with her.
Were you still curious about healthcare as a three-legged stool? The three legs are movement, nourishment, and restoration. If any of the legs are too long or too short, you’re going to topple over — it’s all about balance!
Everybody needs to move their body, it doesn’t mean you have to go the gym, it can be whatever you enjoy. Some people like to jump on a trampoline, some like to play at the park, some like to go hiking or swimming, it doesn’t necessarily matter what the movement is. It just matters that we move our bodies — that’s what they are made to do! Many chronic diseases start to creep up when we don’t move our bodies regularly.
This doesn’t just refer to the food you are eating, but also how you are eating — the intention behind it. Are you shoving food into your mouth in the car rushing from point A to point B? Or are you sitting at the computer working with no attention paid to what you are eating or how fast you are consuming it? Or are you sitting down and actually tasting your food and enjoying it? It comes down to being present with your food. Dr. Rachel acknowledges this isn’t realistic 100% of the time, but the more we practice it, the easier it is to do.
Thinking about health from a holistic perspective and making sure all areas of your life are in harmony. Ensuring you are taking enough time for yourself to recharge and not just running yourself into the ground. One example of being out of balance in this area would be if you wake up at 5am to get to the gym, then you head to work – tossing down that 20 oz. of caffeine to get you through your work day. Then the whole day you just go-go-go and until you collapse into bed at midnight. It’s great that you got up to exercise, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep, taking time to unplug, or taking time for yourself, then it can lead to burnout very quickly. It’s important that all areas of your life are in balance in order to lead a healthy, fulfilling life.
In order to feel good, all three of these pieces need to be in alignment. These are the pieces she considers when formulating individualized plans for the patients she works with.
Dr. Rachel loves working with women starting about 3-6 months before they want to get pregnant. This allows ample time to do a gentle cleanse to get the body in a pristine space. Making getting pregnant easier, along with the pregnancy itself and the postpartum period. At this time she typically does a hormone test, which gets shipped to your house, to make sure all of your levels are in check.
Once pregnant, she checks in with the expectant mother regularly to ensure that they are nourishing themselves and guides them with appropriate workouts that they can do while pregnant.
SAfter birth she continues to work with the new mom, checking in with her regularly to see how she is doing postpartum. As well as helping her figure out how to move her body again, in a way that makes sense for her. She also checks-in to make sure that new moms have at least 5 minutes every day for some self-care. Dr. Rachel supports new moms and makes sure they get the nourishment they need while caring for their little one.
Ultimately, her goal is to “help Moms feel like themselves again.”
You can find out more about Dr. Rachel and her services on her website.
And be sure to check out some of her awesome educational videos on Vimeo.
Additionally, you can find Dr. Rachel teaching fitness classes at Bleeding Hearts Kettlebell Club (Bonus: they provide childcare while you workout!)
I find her approach to health and wellness truly inspiring and her realness to show up as she is and be unapologetically herself, makes Dr. Rachel a true Warrior in my book. Be sure to check out some photos below of her working in her home office. Don’t miss out on her chatting with one of her favorite patients, Ms. Avocado. 😉
Want to read about more Women Warriors in our community? Check out these amazing women: