I’ve been an insatiable podcast consumer for a pretty long time. It all started when The Husband (back then The Boyfriend/The Fiance) and I had many 10-hour drives to Ohio from South Carolina to visit family. We would load up our iPod with Stuff You Should Know,The Adam Carolla Show and Doug Loves Movies. It made the time pass a little easier and was far better than trying to find a new radio station every few hours.
Peak podcast consumption for me hit when we moved to Cleveland and I started walking to work every morning. I had 45 minutes of uninterrupted me-time every morning and again every afternoon, and I chose to spend it absorbed in other people’s voices and as the *world’s easiest kidnapping target.
Obsessive person that I am, I started hunting for pregnancy related podcasts the nanosecond after The Husband and I started thinking about maybe thinking about talking about having a baby. Because pregnancy is short and parenthood is long, there weren’t that many to pick from. If anyone wants to start a pregnancy podcast with me, get in touch. I’m calling it Farting in the Elevator.
Until that gem debuts, though, here is a list of podcasts – series and episodes – on impending parenthood that I enjoyed enough to **risk life and limb to listen to on my way to and from work ***each day for two years.
*As part of my job I regularly read crime synopses that started with women being abducted off the street by men offering rides before having HORRIBLE HORRIBLE things done to them. Detectives warned me not to wear earbuds (and also to carry around a big can of wasp spray because it makes excellent pepper spray… um, thanks for the tip?) I tried to remember to only keep one earbud in so I could hear for any danger while I was walking.
**One day while I was about four months pregnant, a guy in a white truck pulled over while I was walking on a not-very-busy street and asked me TWICE if he could give me a ride somewhere and didn’t leave until I made it look like I was calling the police. I am a FULL fledged idiot because (again, even though I worked in a criminal-justice related job) I didn’t actually call the police on him until hours later, but let this be a warning to you, pregnant dummies: If you’re going to walk around with earbuds in, leave one out so you can be aware of your surroundings, and keep that big can of wasp spray handy.
***I mixed these up with regular-people podcast because while I was losing sight of my feet and could barely remember my name some days, I was still a whole person, not just a reckless (see above) baby incubator.
Podcasts for pregnant women and new moms – what to listen to and what to skip
Ratings out of five stars
Give these a listen
One earbud only.
This is a motherhood podcast on the Maximum Fun network, and it is the most tolerable, relatable parenting podcast I’ve been able to find. Hosts Biz and Theresa share parenting failures and successes, have very real conversations about the tough parts of parenthood, discuss feminism and identity and all the stuff you worry you’ll lose on the other side of that 36-hour labor, and have a phone number you can call if you want to leave an ugly-crying message. They also have pretty interesting guests on the show. My only beef is that they could be better interviewers – their questions (especially Biz’s) tend to be more like “Let me ask you this question so I can then tell you a story about my life.” But if you’re okay with swearing and don’t want to hear somebody lie about how much they have their shit together, this is a great podcast.
My rating: 4.5 stars
This show’s tagline is “the parenting show for everyone,” but I am here to say that its host, Hillary Frank, is decidedly not for everyone. I really liked this podcast while I was super early in my pregnancy, but by the time I got caught up on episodes, I was sick to death of Hillary. Something about her just doesn’t jive with me. She says “um” way too much, I specifically dislike the friends she brings on her show to tell stories (the “I Have News” family. Ugh.) And yet, in other ways it is a really worthwhile show. There have been some great guests and amazing stories (I particularly recommend The Parents’ Guide to Doing It, Building a Better Boobie Trap and Pediatricians, They’re Just Like Us). And while I don’t necessarily recommend listening to her episodes on childbirth injuries before you give birth (because she had a really traumatic birth injury and why scare yourself?) it is certainly worthwhile for anyone struggling to recover from childbirth. Basically, I think I would love this podcast if Hillary were a producer and let somebody else do the talking. But that’s just me. Try it out.
My rating: 3 stars
The production value on this one isn’t great, and I get the feeling it hasn’t been updated in awhile, but even so I enjoyed the short week-by-week podcasts and the more in depth topical episodes. This falls into the hyper educational, not particularly entertaining category of podcasts, but if you’re not into reading pregnancy books, this is a great alternative. Host Bonnie Petrie is informative without sounding preachy, and the series is a fun way to tick off the weeks as you go along.
My rating: 4 stars
Slates’ Allison Benedikt and Dan Kois host this parenting podcast, which I really like but which is probably best suited for parents of slightly older kids – you may not find a whole lot to relate to if you’re expecting or trying to figure out how to swaddle your newborn. (I remember continually rebuffing or filing away any advice I got about actual parenting when I was pregnant, by the way… I kept thinking, “I’m pregnant, not a ‘mom!’ I don’t need to know anything about babies! Talk to me about leaky boobs and cute nursery designs.” Utter nonsense, but I also didn’t call the police when I was almost kidnapped. So what do I know.) Anyway… there is very little dad representation in the parenting podcast world. (I found and listened to an episode or two of this one… might be good, especially if you love British accents as much as I do, but I am not the intended audience.) I like that this covers both, and they always have great guests. One downside is you get limited content if you’re not paying for Slate+.
My rating: 4 stars in general, 3 stars for extremely new parents
If you’re feeling fragile or emotional, maybe hold off on this one, but this is a great episode of one of the greatest podcasts ever, Radiolab. It’s about a couple whose daughter came early–by some accounts way too early to survive–and the harrowing decisions and thought processes behind those decisions. It’s about the miracles of medicine and the ethical dilemmas that these advances create. I won’t give too much away, but because I’m addressing a crowd that likely cries during most commercials, I feel it’s important to tell you that this one has a happy ending.
My rating: 5 stars
Reply All is a newer podcast (about the Internet, but about so much more! I love it!) and in this episode, Phia Bennin covers the wild world of breast milk — those who need it, those who want to give it away, and all the complexities of exchanging this liquid gold. Listen while you pump!
My rating: 5 stars
The Moth, the great storytelling radio show and podcast, is another solid favorite of mine. This one features, obviously, stories about motherhood. Including a story by everyone’s all time favorite human being, Molly Ringwald. Enjoy!
My rating: 5 stars
Sawbones is a quirky Maximum Fun podcast that covers weird medical history stuff. I avoided it forever because I’m pretty squeamish, but it’s fairly entertaining overall and I like the dynamic between Dr. Sydnee McEvoy and her husband Justin, who has obviously embraced the role of ignorant buffoon. Sometimes they go a little too far with that schtick, and like all the greatest couples are probably having more fun with each other than everyone else around them, but that’s part of what I like about it. They recently had a baby girl, and their birth story is a good one. Not good as in, “exactly how we expected it to be,” but as in, “We hit some speedbumps along the way but came out on the other side with a healthy baby.” It’s interesting to hear a family medicine doctor talk about her role as a patient. I know most pregnant women see the prospect of an unplanned C-section as something to fear and dread; this will put you in the frame of mind to be more okay with it if it happens.
My rating: 4 stars
Do what you want. You’ve been warned.
UGHHHHHH………… From the shrill children that the hosts undoubtedly think sound adorable as they read the podcast’s disclaimers to the stilted and unnatural “conversations” in each episode… as much as I wanted to hear about the topics covered in Preggie Pals, I more wanted to drive to their studio and burn it to the ground to protect the rest of the world from ever having to listen to them again. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for them (there’s a whole library of podcasts produced through New Mommy Media, somehow), but that audience is NOT. ME.
My rating: Zero stars. Zero.
Want to hear a devastating story about a child’s terminal illness and how his parents cope with that terminal illness in a beautiful and just as devastating way? Didn’t think so. I love, love, love Reply All. I really regretted hearing this story.
My rating: 1 star, if you’re brave
This is an episode of This American Life that you’ll want to pass over for now if you’re approaching first-time parenthood. Two words: “Demon child.” I’ll leave it at that.
My rating: 4.5 stars for interesting, minus 3 stars for trauma: .5 stars
Okay, mamas – what am I missing? I could always use another podcast to listen to!
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