Physical trainer Laura Arndt has long been interested in working with pregnant and postpartum women.
“My very first client 12 years ago was a woman on maternity leave, and I was fascinated by the fact that she was cleared for exercise [by her doctor] and given no guidance beyond that,” says Arndt, a native of Northern Virginia who lives in Fairfax. “From that day, I started thinking, ‘Wow, women really need help recovering from childbirth.'”
She began specializing in pre- and postnatal exercise, but it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her own child last year that the idea for her company Matriarc began to form.
“Everything changed,” Arndt says. She quickly realized that yes, while there were doctors and lactation consultants and doulas out there, there wasn’t one streamlined place dedicated to gathering and explaining all the information and resources new and expecting mothers need.
Launched last year, the website and iOS app aims to be a one-stop-shop for everything motherhood. Via the app (which is free to download), users can stream exercises tailored specifically to expecting and new moms, which Arndt created with a pelvic floor therapist and OBGYN.
They can also tune into guided meditations led by a therapist specializing in prenatal and postpartum depression, as well as browse educational articles on topics like maternal nutrition, parenting, and self-care.
And then there’s the community section, which is like a Yelp specifically tailored for moms. Available on both the app and website, it lists everything from nearby childcare providers to midwives, pediatricians to folks who will baby-proof your home. Arndt verifies each provider’s credentials before its profile is created, and users can comment with their own reviews and descriptions of the services available.
Thanks to the app, folks will no longer have to sift through online reviews just to find parent-specific information about a spot. Matriarc’s community profiles include answers to all the burning questions that arise with children, like playroom availability and on-site parking.
“On the Matriarc community, everyone who’s accessing it is in the same phase of life as you,” says Arndt, “so you’re reading reviews from people who are using these services for the same reason.”
So far, over 200 providers have created community profiles on Matriarc, the majority of them in the Washington area. Up next? Arndt plans to grow the app’s community, she says, expanding to other major cities on the East Coast and eventually throughout the nation.
And starting this month, Matriarc will partner with the DC Gymboree to offer a fitness class for moms. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, you can drop your child off at a music session while you take a pilates or yoga class taught by Matriarc-verified instructors.
It’s all part of Arndt’s goal of creating a maternal community both off and online, from one mom to another.
“If I can help women find services they need and support local business in the DMV, that’s a win-win,” she says. “It’s amazing the support that women and families need during this time, from pregnancy all the way through. [Being pregnant] made me so much more passionate about putting this together and getting it off the ground.”