Physical Therapy | January Mother to Mother
Welcome everyone to Mother to Mother, where every month we talk to another mother who is a professional in one field related to motherhood. In January Mother to Mother we get to talk to the amazing Dorina Kroll who is a physical therapist, specializing in PT related to pre and post pregnancy.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m Dorina and I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy. I own Potomac Physical Therapy and Rehab, a PT clinic that focuses on moms and their families. As a mom of 2, I know how busy our lives get and I aim to make physical therapy as convenient and enjoyable as possible. I married my highschool sweetheart and we have been married for 10 years. My kids are 8 and 5.5 years old. Our house is always filled with music and chaos and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love to cook and eat healthy-ish meals and believe there is nothing better than a beautiful, colorful snack plate.
What made you decide to go into PT in the first place?
I always knew that I wanted to get into a profession in the healthcare field. I always felt most useful when helping others. As I got older and started noticing how many people suffered with pain, I began exploring physical therapy. In high school, I interned at a local PT clinic and was immediately drawn to the patient / therapist relationship. I learned that in order to succeed, the patient had to trust the provider. The stronger the trust, the better the outcome. I observed various PTs and noticed that some were better at earning trust than others. It seemed to be a skill that couldn’t be learned: you either had it or you didn’t. Even as a teenager, I knew I had this ability to connect with others, earn their trust, and be authentic in wanting what was best for them. It’s a magic combination of empathy, compassion, determination, and creativity. Working together to
reach goals big and small, facing and overcoming challenges, and then finally getting the desired outcome – this seemed like a career where I could thrive.
Why did you decide to specialize in helping mothers?
I started my career in general orthopedics. I worked in busy clinics seeing 2, 3 or even 4 patients at any given time. It was really challenging to meet the productivity demands, complete the paperwork, and provide excellent care under these grueling work conditions. When I had my babies, I was already totally burnt out. I fell out of love with my career working in a busy clinic and decided to take a break while focusing on my
new journey through motherhood. As I started going out with my newborn and meeting moms in various mom groups and circles, I noticed that almost every mom was experiencing dysfunction. Whether it was pain from sciatica, leaking with running, diastasis recti, back pain and neck pain with nursing, it was really everywhere I looked. And no one I knew was getting PT for it! I started asking moms: “Why don’t you see a
physical therapist? You know they can help, right?” The 2 answers I got were: a) “I had no idea PT could help with that!” And b) “Who has the time??” All of a sudden, I began feeling passionate about PT again. I knew what I needed to do: educate moms about how PT can help their symptoms and make it super easy and convenient to actually get help. As soon as I started seeing this patient population, I felt that same energy that
made me fall in love with this profession in the first place. It felt like a puzzle piece nestling into the perfect spot. I have never looked back!
What kinds of benefits do moms see if they choose to go to a PT either pre or postpartum?
Pregnancy causes so many changes in our bodies. Some of those changes cause a domino effect of compensatory actions in our bodies that may not go back to pre- pregnancy status. Getting PT during pregnancy can help with pain and discomfort associated with body changes – for example, sciatica, back / hip pain, plantar fasciitis, etc. It can also help prepare for labor with breathwork, pelvic floor function, stretching
and positioning. In the postpartum phase, PT is beneficial in order to reconnect the diaphragm and pelvic floor through breathing. This will help heal the deep core and pelvic floor after sustaining the stress of pregnancy and delivery (regardless of delivery method). Other benefits of PT in the postpartum phase include the safe return to previous activity, diagnosing any pelvic floor/ core / abdominal conditions (ie diastatsis
recti, weakness impairments, paradoxical breathing), helping with breastfeeding, relief of pain.
One of the greatest benefits I have noticed from seeing a PT in pregnancy and postpartum is the ability to carve out dedicated time for mom. Moms are often so preoccupied with caring for their families, homes, careers, that taking care of themselves seems to be the very last thing on the to do list. I get it, it can feel selfish to worry about your own issues when you have a helpless newborn to take care of. But the truth of the matter is that the better you feel, the better you move, the better you breathe, the better you can take care of those you care for. Self-care is more than doing the bare minimum required for survival (ie eating a meal, sleeping, proper hygiene). Self-care is about taking the time to love yourself. It’s making yourself a priority so your family, home, career can have the very best version of you.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
Empowering mothers. There is a ton of information out there on what you should and shouldn’t do while pregnant or in the postpartum phase. It is seriously overwhelming! Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation mixed in with helpful tips. It’s hard (impossible?) to sift through and know what to believe. As a PT, helping mothers learn to trust and listen to their bodies for cues is the best part of the job. I love teaching mothers how to recognize red flags, what to look out for when exercising, what proper mechanics look and feel like. That way, they can feel confident in trying new exercise programs, lifting heavy car seats, or going for a strenuous walk. Battling the fear of movement by empowering mothers to trust themselves is hands down my favorite. Oh, and in second place for favorite part of the job: holding a baby on occasion. Can’t beat
What’s the craziest part about your job?
The craziest thing to me is that women are not routinely educated by their healthcare providers about the benefits of physical therapists. I hear from women all the time about how they told their OB or GP about pain, leaking, weakness, etc and it gets brushed off as a common side effect of pregnancy or delivery. Some people will have you believe that you are at your weakest when you are pregnant or postpartum. That
you are vulnerable and should accept that you will always have pain, always leak a little (or a lot) or always have weakness. When in actuality: you are so incredibly strong and remarkable that you are able to use your body to create a human – multiply cells and create every single organ, muscle, bone, hair follicle in a body. Your body can house and nurture and grow. It can go through sleepless nights and still function (even if
barely). The fact that we can do all this and then just accept that pain and weakness is normal is preposterous. Of course, there are varying degrees of healing based on circumstance but I believe that given the right education, the right tools, and a physical therapist that can listen and inspire, moms anywhere can feel like their best and strongest selves.
If you could impart one piece of wisdom to new or expectant moms, what would it be?
So this bit of wisdom is not PT related exactly but I think it is essential: Find a community. Sometimes this takes work and you have to look in unconventional places but it’s so important. During peak covid, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the new moms who were isolated during the newborn phase. I don’t know how they did it. I always tell moms to find a mom group. Preferably one that gets together in person but virtual is better than nothing. Talking with other moms in the same season of parenthood is so helpful during these early postpartum days. Sharing stories of sleepless nights, scary rashes, interesting diaper changes and saying or hearing “me too!!” was so comforting to me as a new mom. If you don’t know where to find a village, I suggest the following: facebook mom groups, workout groups (ie fit4mom, barre class), google “mom group *your city*, ask in a neighborhood listserv, ask a leader in your place of worship, google “infant play group”, ask friends who have had children where they found their community.
Thank you Dorina for sharing your wisdom in our Janaury Mother to Mother blog post! I know I certainly learned a lot, and I’m hoping some of you lovely readers do as well. I’m so happy that I get to feature incredible woman in this new series. If you enjoyed the January Mother to Mother, let me know! If you or someone you know can benefit from PT, feel free to reach out to Dorina using the following links: