Welcome to our Specialist Spotlight Series. We launched our Resource Library because we wanted women everywhere to know that urinary incontinence is a treatable condition, and for them to be able to explore what specialists and treatments might be right for them. In this series, we highlight some of the incredible specialists within our Specialist Directory, and shine a light on the ways they’re helping women every day.
I’m Nancy Branberg, a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health and pelvic health issues in Falls Church, VA.
I’ve been doing this work for over 40 years now, if you can believe it, so I’ve seen lots of changes in our industry and in narratives around women’s bodies. Unfortunately, it’s a continued fight to ensure women have body autonomy and access to shame-free healthcare.
Your Purpose and POV
What inspires you to do what you do [professionally] every day, and how did you end up focusing on this profession?
My journey as a physical therapist started when I was just 12 years old, filing paperwork at my dad’s PT practice. But, to be totally honest, I didn’t even love physical therapy at first.
Not until the birth of my first son when I had a traumatic birth injury and wasn’t listened to by the medical team at all…and then the discomfort and leaking started. And it opened a can of worms where I started to realize all the discomfort I’d been putting up with and just accepting in my life…just like so many of my clients.
That turned me into the fierce advocate for women that I am today. It made me realize I wanted more…not just for myself, but for every woman out there.
What POV do you bring to your profession? What does your voice (via your practice and/or IG account) uniquely provide for women?
I approach my work from the viewpoint that your body is whole and interconnected with every other part of your life, and that you know your body best. What I mean by that is everything is relevant. My passion is listening to women’s stories, and I want to hear all of it.
I want to know about that hangnail on your left toe because it might be slightly affecting the way you walk and how your body compensates. And, next thing you know, your hip pain starts to make perfect sense.
What do you find resonates best/most with your audience?
We women are told too often that our voices and our stories don’t matter. And I’m here to tell you that all of it matters. You’re not broken; you’re whole. So everything is relevant…that fight with your husband or that stress at work or that old running injury.
My job is to work with you to figure out how the whole story connects so you don’t have to just “put up with” discomfort anymore.
What interested/attracted you about Attn: Grace when you were invited to become a Brand Ambassador?
I’m passionate about the work Attn: Grace is doing and am so honored to be a Brand Ambassador because it’s due time we drop shame from the incontinence conversation and give women natural options for support.
When it comes to women’s health (and your specialty), where is there still “work to do”? Any myths to dispel? Misperceptions about treatments? Attitudes to change?
There is still much work to be done to dispel the myths that incontinence—or any women’s health issue—is shameful and can’t be talked about in empowered ways. We need to continue opening dialogues to help every woman realize how common the thoughts, fears, and frustrations around incontinence are. There’s so much that can be done to improve symptoms beyond the “just deal with it” message we hear from so many providers. And we need to provide women adequate support, information, and options to make the decisions that are right for them.
What advice would you give to women reading this when it comes to taking charge of their health/wellness?
I want every woman to feel empowered about their own bodies and their health. And I want you to know that you know your body better than anyone in the world…even the professionals like me. So your voice needs to be heard in health conversations, and all of your concerns are valid.
Don’t settle for healthcare providers who don’t listen to or dismiss your concerns. Don’t settle for products that don’t meet your needs. Don’t settle for “just dealing with” discomfort in your body.
If there’s any advice I wish I’d had early in my own health journey, it’s don’t settle. Find the providers, products, and information that support you and help you feel great in your own skin. I can’t think of a better definition of empowerment than that.
Learn More About Urinary Incontinence: