Work Done Well: Dr. Tabitha Harder

Dr. Tabitha Harder

Women’s Health Physical Therapist and Orthopedic Specialist

Connect with Tabitha

Dr. Tabitha Harder is a Women’s Health Physical Therapist and Orthopedic Specialist in Brentwood, Tennessee.  She received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree from The University of Tennessee in 2004.  She is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist with the American Physical Therapy Association and is trained in Obstetrics and Postpartum Physical Therapy.  She is an advocate for Women’s Health and has a private practice in Brentwood, Tennessee where she provides prenatal and postpartum care for women.  


Tabitha is also a pastor’s wife and mother of four.  She is married to Mike Harder, a pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church. They have four children: Abigail, Violet, Georgia, and Josiah.  Tabitha is active in her local church and serves in various roles. As an adoptive mom, Tabitha values community and support for other foster and adoptive families.  She is honored to support women, families, and vulnerable children in the Middle Tennessee area as a member of the foster and adoption ministry team at Brentwood Baptist Church. Tabitha is also a special needs “Embrace Buddy” where she volunteers with her oldest daughter on Sunday mornings.  They enjoy serving together and being part of a ministry that meets the unique needs of individuals and families impacted by disability.

Today, we have the privilege of hearing from Dr. Tabitha Harder, who is a huge advocate for women’s health. Be encouraged by the good work she is doing in the lives of women around her. Tabitha, please share with us a little bit about your family, career journey, and how God has brought you to what you are doing now.

I am a middle Tennessee native, born and raised in Columbia, TN.  I’ve been married to my husband, Mike for 14 years and we have four children. Abigail is 10, Violet is 8, Georgia is 5, and I have a new baby at home, a four-month-old son, Josiah. My life is full of joy and chaos, but I love it so much. 

I got into my career as a women’s health physical therapist because I became “the patient”. I went through a very hard season and found myself in a deep hole, navigating low back pain and a diagnosis of diastasis recti. I was struggling with postpartum anxiety while learning to be a new mom and a pastor’s wife.  I realized that if I’m in this emotional and mental hole, and I have a doctorate degree and an orthopedic specialty as well as a background in personal training, I’m certain, there are other women that are in this hole too, and I want to help them.

God gave me a passion to take what I had gone through and to be able to look at other women and say to them, “I know what you are going through.  I’ve been there and I’m going to help you out of that hole.” It is a joy to be able to serve women in this way. I love what I do with prenatal and postpartum PT and women’s health.

As an advocate for women’s healthcare, specifically prenatal and postpartum care, what are the joys and challenges that you have encountered along the way?

The biggest challenge for me is seeing the major gaps around women for healthcare.  My own postpartum journey illuminated for me how much was missing for prenatal and postpartum care. I really prayed for God to put me in places where I could help other women. The joy came because I feel God has done that. The way he’s gifted me with being merciful and being a helper fills in those gaps where I can love and serve women as they navigate pregnancy and postpartum recovery. 


Another one of the biggest joys for me is seeing how God connects me to other women. I frequently hear my patients say, “I feel like God brought you to me.” I often say the same exact words because I truly believe it. God puts people right in front of me in these unique spaces where I can fully use my gifts and do the work I am so passionate about.

How do you keep yourself encouraged that the work you’re doing is valuable and worthwhile when the world tempts women to believe otherwise? Are there any Scriptures God has given you to keep you present in the work to which He has called you? 

With today being my anniversary, I’ve thought a lot about how my husband loves me really well and has encouraged me in the work that I’m doing. He is a pastor and so really early on in my career, I wrestled with the question of, “Is there value in working over “here”?” I asked myself,  “Should I only be working as an extension of his calling or should I find a way to fit into a ministry role of our church?” He was such an encouragement for me and quickly he reminded me that God gifted me and wired me in a specific way to use me in the unique setting that I work in.  He said, “Be the best PT you can be.” He allowed me to grow and bloom as a physical therapist.


The verse that freed me and helped me to grow in my calling is Colossians 3:23, which says, 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if you’re working for the Lord.” I always think of that verse and remind myself that I’m working for Jesus. He’s bringing these women to me and I’m working for him. That has encouraged me through challenges, especially when I was in a corporate setting where there were limitations and frustrations. God is the one who is bringing these women and putting them in front of me so that I can love on them and help them in this way. 

Can you share with us how you balance being a wife, mom, pastor’s wife, doctor and business owner in this season of your life? How would you encourage women who are juggling many roles as you are?

There are two things that I want to share here. One is that my husband is in it with me. He really meant it when he said he would nurture and champion me so that I could live out the calling that God had given me. Sometimes that looks like he’s the one, getting the kids ready for school or packing lunches so I can go see early patients. We really work together and keep a balance, and that’s been really helpful for me in our home. 


The other thing that’s been really important for me is holding things loosely and not wrapping my identity too tightly in any of the things God has given me. That is something I have to practice. When we had our first daughter, Abigail, I felt the desire that I wanted to be home more. I still loved what I was doing as a PT, but I needed that balance. As my role at work changed, I realized how much of my identity was wrapped in being a very successful physical therapist. That was eye opening to me early in my career. It reminded me that my identity is being a daughter of Christ and not my job as a successful physical therapist. 


Motherhood has looked different as I’ve grown in my role as a pastor’s wife over the years. Early in our marriage, I had the capacity to run the hospitality team, lead groups, disciple women, and just be everywhere on Sunday mornings. Motherhood changed all of that for me which was hard. It took time for me to grow through that new season of motherhood and learn that ministry would look different. Sunday mornings looked a lot different when I was breastfeeding or wearing a baby. My role as a pastor’s wife started to look more like  discipling these little children and creating our home to be a safe haven for my husband, so that he could continue to do ministry.


I’ve learned to hold things loosely and let God move me into new seasons of ministry, work, and motherhood. When our family started the process of domestic adoption, I realized that I couldn’t juggle a part-time position in the corporate world anymore.  I was in a place of feeling like life was out of balance and I needed to make more space to be present with our family.  


Through prayer and unique opportunities, I was able to start my own practice.  Starting my own private practice allowed me to have a much better balance.  I have been able to build my work schedule around the needs of our family.  I can support my husband and be present for my children. I know that God may shake things up on me again so I have to remember to hold all things lightly and remember my identity is in him.  I’m representing him in all these beautiful roles he’s given me.  

What made you decide to leave the corporate world to start your own business and when did that shift take place?

The biggest reason that I really wanted to step out and start my own practice is because there are a lot of limitations in the corporate setting that I was in.  I was feeling very restricted in the time I could spend with my patients. I was working a very tight schedule which was so overwhelming and I didn’t feel I could give my patients the quality of care I knew they deserved. 


Something that I’m very passionate about is early postpartum rehab. I saw the challenge that moms can’t always get to physical therapy because they have postpartum anxiety or depression or they have multiple children or they’re trying to figure out nursing and they’re in pain. When I started my practice, I wanted to center care back around the mom.  I now do early postpartum rehab visits in the home.   That way they  don’t have to shower and they can take care of a newborn and I can really talk to them, hear their story, and enter into it as I start to help them through rehab. The huge shift for me was putting the focus on the mom, on the woman in front of me, and taking care of their needs.

What do you think the future holds for women’s healthcare and how does that affect the work you are doing?

Women’s healthcare is going to change. It’s not going to be the same. I’m seeing things change in subtle ways, even with terminology and the way that some organizations are stepping into very heated, cultural topics that our country’s going through. Because I own my own practice I am able to honor God and represent him and see the way he created and designed the female body and a woman and support her. It’s getting trickier and trickier in today’s world but I really see that as a calling in the space that he has placed me in. I get to bring him all the honor and glory as I help women take care of their bodies.

As someone who has a large presence on social media and has really built a business that way, how have you navigated the often chaos of that world?

The joke in my house is that I accidentally became an influencer because I had no intention of having a platform or growing a platform when I initiated a women’s health Instagram account. My early passion was to be an advocate and educate as well as share what I had gone through to help other women. I noticed that the platform had grown and had a moment of reflection thinking, “What is God up to? What does he want to do with it? How’s he going to use me in it?” And he has used it in mighty ways.  I’ve looked at it as this is another space he’s put me in where I can honor and represent Jesus. People can see that I’m changing the atmosphere based on the relationship I have with God. 


I have to have good boundaries of social media with my children watching, because I don’t want to be attached to my phone all the time. If I’m working on content or they see me responding to someone I can say to them, “Mommy’s working, I’m trying to help another mom,”  and then I can finish and put my phone down. Having good boundaries in place in my home has been helpful in entering into social media and interacting in this sphere of influence that God has given me. I see it as part of my calling and I’m trying to steward the opportunity he’s given me.

What practical advice do you share with new moms to help them through their postpartum journey?

I like to talk to moms before they ever get to the postpartum period. That’s one of those gaps I mentioned in obstetrics that I see taking place. I have conversations with moms every week where they say, “I wish I would’ve known what this was going to be like. No one told me that.” So I really like to back up into prenatal care and sit with moms and give them resources they need beforehand.


If you were having spine surgery or total joint replacement, you would sit down in a prehab visit and your provider would explain to you what is about to happen and they tell you what to look out for and what to expect. You have a clear guideline, but moms don’t get that. I try to back up when they’re pregnant and explain some things to look out for.


I make statements about what they might feel and what to do if something specific happens. I share with them ways to protect their pelvic floor so that they don’t have a lot of injuries that happen early on in postpartum recovery that are very preventable. Moms just don’t know. They are stumbling in the dark because no one’s there guiding them. I like for moms to know early what the game plan is so they have a map for success and then have a lifeline. When my patient has a baby I check in with them during the first three weeks. It’s kind of crazy to me, that moms go home from the hospital and there’s six weeks of the calendar that goes by before they check in again.


The six week clearance visit is a medical clearance but not necessarily a musculoskeletal clearance. They’re left without direction or guidance when it comes to returning to fitness or intimacy. I like to set moms up for success and give them a plan.

We cannot thank you enough for sharing your heart with us today! Where can women follow you on social media and reach out if they have more questions?

I would love for women to connect with me, wherever they are. If they’re on social media, my Instagram page is @thepostpartumpt.  They can also connect with me through my website, . for online coaching and physical therapy. If they’re local to the Nashville or Franklin Tennessee area, I do private physical therapy and women’s health coaching inside the Pilates Franklin studio. I would be happy to talk with or help any woman in need!

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