ST. GEORGE — Raising awareness for women’s post-birth challenges is the message 2023 Mrs. Washington County will promote during her reign.

Mrs. Washington County Ashley and her husband Mckay Sorenson with their family, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Ashley Sorenson, St. George News

Ashley Sorenson will compete in March of 2024 at the Mrs. Utah America program in Northern Utah. Sorenson’s pageant platform focuses on maternal mental health. She said many women who give birth struggle physically and emotionally to bounce back.

“The reason that I am so passionate about this is that I have worked with postpartum women,” Sorenson told St. George News. “Most of my career as a corrective exercise specialist, I see so many women coming through that are not only struggling physically postpartum but are struggling emotionally as well.”

Sorenson researched how she could make a difference and make some changes in her community. She said she came across the Mrs. Utah America program online and saw what excellent work some of these women are doing. Sorenson had not been a “pageant girl ever before.”

Sorenson said she realized the sash and crown opened up many doors and opportunities to get these women to share their stories and what they’re passionate about.

“So my entire purpose of competing for Mrs. Utah is to hopefully get that crown and use that crown as a microphone to amplify maternal mental health,” Sorenson said. Sorenson said she liked that Mrs. Washington County and

Mrs. Utah pageants are less about how pretty or how much Botox one has and more about what one has to offer. 

“It’s about your platform and what you have to offer and what you plan to do with your title,” Sorenson said. 

Ashley Sorenson will compete in March of 2024 at the Mrs. Utah America program, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Ashley Sorenson, St. George News

According to the Mrs. Utah America website, it’s a beauty pageant with a purpose, “Mrs. Utah America is more than just a beauty pageant. It is a community of like-minded women dedicated to lifting, strengthening and edifying each other as they serve the state of Utah and the world at large.” 

Sorenson said in her work as an independent consultant at Chélle Health and MedSpa in Hurricane helps women with postpartum issues. Sorenson noticed women experience disconnection from their core muscles. She said this leads to lower belly sagging and pain. 

“During pregnancy, obviously, there’s a lot of expansion through the core,” Sorenson said. 

Sorenson trains women to regain their bodies and minds after having children by providing tools to help them cope. She also plans to promote the Family Support Center as a free resource for overwhelmed parents, highlighting its licensed daycare and wellness services. She said many women need to realize they can contact the Family Support Center in St. George for help with daycare. 

Sorenson said that even with an understanding husband and family support system, she had felt overwhelmed with her three children, especially when she struggled with anxiety mixed with anger. 

“I struggled even postpartum rage when things weren’t perfect. I just got so frustrated with myself,” Sorenson said. 

She is grateful that postpartum depression and anxiety are discussed today more than a generation ago. Sorenson found in her classes that movement releases emotions for women who had held them in.

Sorenson said sometimes women feel “just freaked out.” She said some women don’t know where to turn or what to do. Others may feel they are working hard, trying to care for themselves and their babies, but realize something’s off.

Ashley Sorenson helps women recover from postpartum physical and mental challenges and will compete in March of 2024 at the Mrs. Utah America program, Hurricane, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Ashley Sorenson, St. George News

She noted that 80 to 90% of the women that she works with in their first year postpartum had some struggle and she hopes to raise awareness about ways to help mothers, such as counseling. However, she said finding the time and money to attend therapy sessions can be challenging.

“Where are the tools that will help these moms when they’re staying home with their kids all day?” Sorenson said. “And how do we know when it’s too much? When it goes from being overwhelmed to when it is a real problem and we need professional help?”

Sorenson said she hopes to shed light on what women can do from home, such as exercise, or when they need to ask for medication or therapy. Sorenson said it’s normal to worry about one’s family. However, she noted exercise helps her when her anxiety goes into overdrive.

She added she stressed about everything her children ate or when her baby was asleep in their crib. Sorenson wasn’t sleeping because she was worried about her baby’s safety. Her fear became extreme. 

“I took all the stress to mean something about me and kind of diminished my self-worth,” Sorenson said. “So I wasn’t feeling like I was doing a good job. I didn’t feel like I was good enough for them.”

Sorenson said exercise was a way to reset her nervous system and calm down. She said women could take their children on walks or drop them off at a babysitter so they can exercise. And if they cannot afford babysitting, they can go to the Family Support Center in St. George. It is a free resource for overwhelmed parents and provides wellness services.

Sorenson invites the community to reach out to her on social media for opportunities where she can serve or help her with spreading her message.

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