We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Shipley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
As a mom who is also a pelvic physical therapist, I think it’s extremely important that we teach our children about their bodies in a shame-free way. For over 15 years I have worked with people who experience pelvic pain, painful sex, having accidents with pee or poop, or constipation (just to name a few of the things I treat). I have seen first-hand how it affects people when they don’t know the correct names for their own body parts, don’t know what to expect for their bodily functions, don’t understand what’s normal and not normal, and as a result are not empowered to get the help they need! I think one of the most important things I’ve done as a parent is to model being comfortable with my body and being comfortable answering their questions and teaching them all about their own bodies. I make sure that I use the correct anatomical terms for my daughters’ body parts (vulva and vagina are different things!) and we have many conversations about pooping and peeing – often taboo topics when it comes to bodily functions. Being knowledgeable about their bodies will help protect them from sexual predators and will give them confidence as they get older. I want my daughters to have comfort in their bodies and to be able to take care of all of their body parts, even the ones that society says we “shouldn’t” talk about.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In college I realized that my heart was into healthcare, and physical therapy allowed me to have more time with patients while avoiding some of the downsides of a career in medicine. It was during my last clinical rotation in physical therapy graduate school that I met a pelvic health physical therapist. I was blown away by her knowledge and how comfortable she was with “uncomfortable” topics like pooping and sex!
I opted to focus on general orthopaedics for my first five years out of grad school but I always felt a pull towards pelvic health. I realized that I really enjoyed helping patients with issues surrounding their pelvis, low back, and hips, etc and I knew that I found my calling when I started focusing on pelvic health in 2007. I love having the ability to spend more time and be more holistic in my care with my patients. It’s so rewarding to offer them hope and relief when they sometimes feel like they can’t even share what they’re going through with anyone else!
My life and career changed significantly with my first pregnancy and birth of my oldest daughter. During my pregnancy I started evaluating all of the things I put on and in my body and did a complete overhaul to use only natural products. I stopped using many products I previously thought I could never live without (goodbye, shave gel!) and swapped out everything else to non-toxic alternatives. Since everything was progressing well, about halfway through my pregnancy we decided to switch to having a home birth. I believe getting out of the traditional medical system was a huge turning point for me. I experienced natural childbirth without the interventions that many birthing people are led to believe are necessary. I learned so much from my homebirth midwife, including natural ways to support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period! I was able to not only apply that knowledge to my own body but I was also able to start teaching it to my patients. As I started incorporating what I was learning into my patient care I saw the improvement in THEIR outcomes – smoother labor, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. That inspired me to continue learning as much as I could about natural treatments both within physical therapy but also from other talented, holistic providers.
By the time I had my first daughter I was so burned out from the volume and pace at my previous company that I ended up taking a full year off of work after she was born. In that time “off” I started dreaming about how I’d do things differently (both for my patients and my providers) if I had my own practice. After much preparation and work I started Renew Pelvic Health when my daughter was just 14 months old! Starting my own business while raising an infant was equally challenging and rewarding, and I’m so glad I did it!
At Renew Pelvic Health we incorporate natural treatments with our clinical training to offer a synergistic blend of holistic care where our patients are at the center. I think it’s important to meet patients where they’re at, and help them meet their goals (not the provider’s goals!). We work successfully with people who want traditional interventions as well as those who prefer natural methods and treatments.
I am proud of the calming, private environment and holistic care we offer to our clients. We purposefully strive to help our patients’ nervous systems relax when they enter our clinic. We engage multiple senses to accomplish this – sight, smell, and sound – and you won’t see us wearing scrubs or white lab coats. We believe in the importance of collaboration in healthcare. We love working with others who are involved in your care or referring you to other providers who may help you in your health journey – it can be a team effort sometimes!
At Renew Pelvic Health we strongly believe in patient education and proactive care – not waiting until problems arise. We’re excited to work with our patients to PREVENT pelvic floor issues, surgical complications, and pain. We’re especially passionate about helping people prepare their body for pregnancy and childbirth with our holistic, individualized approach. Pregnancy and childbirth are pivotal times in a birthing person’s life that greatly impact their entire body but especially their pelvic floor and abdominal health. But even if you’re already experiencing pelvic floor issues, it’s never too late to get help! We love helping all genders heal and recover postpartum, after surgery, or from pelvic floor issues. All of our patients benefit from our thorough evaluation, customized treatment plans, and love for education. Your body gets the help that it needs and you gain knowledge about healthy pelvic floor habits so you can support your body going forward.
I am also grateful to be growing a team of like-minded professionals. Not only do I have another talented pelvic physical therapist working alongside me, but we have also grown to offer movement sessions led by a Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive yoga facilitator. These sessions incorporate attachment theory, trauma theory, and yoga philosophy in order to help you cultivate a better relationship with your body, which has so many beneficial applications in your life.
In addition to the work I do 1:1 with patients at my practice, I created a self-paced, online course that gives much of the essential pelvic health knowledge that I share with my patients! This way if you live outside of Georgia or if you don’t have time or resources to make it in to see a pelvic physical therapist you can learn what you need to know to help improve your pelvic health. It also includes great information about which provider you might want to see if you have pelvic floor issues that warrant a consultation. I am currently working on my next online course about how to prepare for home birth, so keep on the lookout for that!
I’m also the creator and host of Kumbay’all – The Whole Woman’s Resource podcast. It allows me to share even more pelvic health knowledge and have guests speak about other areas of life that can benefit my patients and listeners.
I love having multiple ways that people can work with me or learn from me. I’m passionate about pelvic health education and individual support through pelvic physical therapy. I believe that pelvic health is an essential part of a successful wellness strategy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
All my friends have kids now too so I’ll keep this real, ha. We usually get up early so we’d head over to Revolution Doughnuts on W College Ave, grab the kids some treats and then head to a playground. Spring in Atlanta is the best! I’d take them to the Old Fourth Ward playground so we could hang out there while the kids had fun on the play structures, then check out the birds and pond as we walk over to Ponce City Market to shop and have an early lunch. I’d be sure to show them Modern Mystic, Rhen’s Nest Toy Shop, Citizen Supply, and Sustainable Home Goods. For food we’d go with whatever they were in the mood for- I’ve never had a bad meal at PCM. We’d go home to let the little ones nap and then head back out to Fernbank for the afternoon. My kids’ favorites are the outdoor play spaces and Nature Quest inside but my daughters also love running around the “star room”, going to the Fantastic Forces room, and the Walk Through Time in Georgia exhibit. We’d grab pizza for dinner at Athens Pizza on Clairmont Rd and then walk around downtown Decatur afterward. Another day we’d take them to the State Botanical Gardens in Athens and pack picnic lunches- it’s so worth the 80-min drive! We’d also make sure to take them to Flying Biscuit (Candler Park), the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, and Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my Shoutout to my family. I would not be where I am today without their example of dedication and hard work, their love, and their encouragement. My mother, siblings, father, two uncles, and husband top the list but I am lucky to have many more in my corner. I would also like to thank my business coach, Christa Gurka, for her mentorship and encouragement!
Headshot and Hands on pelvis (2 photos) – credit to XXIII Photo Studio