“Pregnancy is like origami for the body. After all the unfolding and expanding of pregnancy, You have to carefully help a woman fold the pieces back in after birth,” Lara Kohn Thompson explained to me on the cozy couches at Bend + Bloom Yoga in Park Slope.
I didn’t know what to expect prior to my meeting with Lara. What I kept hearing was that she is an expert in perinatal care and that I needed to meet with her – and those that told me so were far from wrong. Lara is a wealth of wisdom when it comes to women’s wellness and is the kind of woman I want all women to know.
If her core skills had to be put in two boxes, she would classify them as pre and post natal massage & craniosacral therapy and yoga, but after speaking with her, it was clear that those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Lara’s expertise.
Like many passion-driven careers, Lara’s began with a desire to restore and repair her own physical trauma experienced after birth. Formerly a professional dancer, and having just given birth to her first born son, she felt the immediate effects birth had on her pelvic floor. In France, perinatal care is a priority for new and expecting moms, and pelvic floor health is treated as part of the postnatal recovery process, with a midwife or physical therapist seeing moms routinely for the first three months following birth. In America, women are typically seen one time, six weeks after birth, with the majority of the wellness focused solely on baby and minimally on mom.
Thankfully for us, we have people like Lara to fill in the gaps. She took her own experiences of perinatal treatment in France and brought them with her to Brooklyn, combining the relationship and trust between stages in her own practice. She is an A.P.O.R ® practitioner (approche posturo respiratoire) and is certified in A.P.M ® (anatomie pour le mouvement) and Germain’s pelvic floor and movement series. Lara has also trained here in the US with Tami Kent and is certified in Holistic Pelvic Care ™, as well as being a licensed massage therapist.
I was personally unfamiliar with the benefits of postpartum physical care and pelvic floor health, but quickly learned that what our bodies endure during childbirth can sometimes be compared to a tornado, spiraling through our insides. With our internal selves disrupted, it’s important to give them the attention needed to be carefully pieced back together and restored. Lara does this by “using imagery, movement, breath and postural work in order to deepen awareness and enhance the health and function of the female pelvic bowl and integrate into the body as a whole.”
She studies each woman individually in early postpartum retraining, explaining that every woman’s body is different. In an ideal situation, she would have the opportunity to work with her clients prenatally as well as postnatally, observing and learning what movements and bodywork respond best to their specific needs. The first three weeks after birth are most critical, and when I asked what a woman might expect to do during these treatments, she described the healing process as a mix of pelvic binding, body work and gentle movements.
I told her I was unfamiliar with binding, to which she responded with a smile, “stand up!” In the third trimester of pregnancy myself, she then demonstrated the benefits of pelvic binding on me using her long blue scarf, instructing me to hold my arms out straight ahead. She told me to resist as she pushed down on my arms with her hands, the first time using no binding. I could feel the pressure in my pelvis right away. She then wound the scarf tightly around my pelvis, directly below my baby bump and around the back of my pelvis, and secured the wrap in place. I held my arms out and we repeated the same steps as before, except this time, there was no pressure in my pelvis. I became a binding believer in that moment, couldn’t wait to share the experience, and was even more excited than before to make an appointment with her and continue learning.
As an expecting mom, the one thought I couldn’t shake was, “how will I have the time after birth to make these appointments?” The more we spoke, I realized that not only will Lara make home visits when needed, but that what she does is all-encompassing, and that her ability to offer a range of wellness practices in one meeting is about as time-saving as it gets. Depending on her clients’ needs, she combines a mix of Massage Therapy, Yoga, CranioSacral Therapy, APOR®, APM®, HPC (™Tami Kent) within one, or a series of sessions, making the most out of the time spent together. She then teaches movements to practice at home, allowing healing to continue any time that is convenient for her clients. Her services are not limited to women falling into the perinatal space, she often sees partners or other family members in need of private bodywork and movement sessions as well.
After learning all of this, it was no surprise that Lara co-created the perinatal program at Bend + Bloom Yoga in Park Slope, with the intention of creating a space for women to experience full support from pregnancy and beyond. If you’ve ever been to a class or workshop at Bend + Bloom, you have seen what a wonderful job she’s done in making that exact vision become a reality.
She is not only a prenatal, postnatal yoga teacher in the space but also can be found leading a variety of workshops for new and expecting moms. These include Yoga for Birth, a Workshop for Partners: Practical Tools for Labor & Delivery (held every six weeks) where expecting moms are encouraged to bring along their partners and will learn and practice breathing techniques, valuable birthing positions, ways to protect the pelvic floor and hands on adjustment techniques that can be used during labor.
On Wednesdays, you can join Postnatal Yoga Therapeutics (with or without babes) describing the class as “a space for mamas to come and get personalized care for challenges like pelvic floor issues, diastasis recti, and back pain in a group setting.”
Friends share what they love with other friends. So like a dear friend said to me, whether you are expecting a child or are already a mother, Lara Kohn Thompson is the woman you NEED to see!
Lara’s office is located in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY. To contact her, please visit larakohnthompson.com/contact.
Images provided by Lara Kohn Thompson.