When Bryn Huntpalmer, 30, from Austin, Texas, says that something in her changed when she had her daughter. The determined mother endured a marathon 34-hour labor with her first birth and later a water birth with her son that she says she owned.
"Giving birth gave me a confidence I had never had before (or didn't know I had)," Huntpalmer says. "I became more confident in my body and what I was capable of doing as a human on this planet. Becoming a mother also opened me up emotionally and I was struck with this overwhelming desire to lead a more fulfilled life as an example for my kids. For me this meant changing career paths and helping other women during the life-changing time of pregnancy and childbirth."
To accomplish that, Huntpalmer decided to try something new for her and in 2015, launched a podcast called "The Birth Hour," where she interviews mothers about their birth stories. She covers it all—from the good to the bad to the gory. And listeners are loving it.
I know there are thousands of women out there listening who can relate to that mom in some small way and not feel so alone in their experience.
Huntpalmer says that although she spent more than a year planning for her podcast, she was completely hooked once she finally went for it. "I am self-taught and figured out the equipment and editing along the way," she explains. "I record at my kitchen table—although I dream of a home office space—and I usually record late at night when my kids (and the kids of the mom I'm interviewing) are asleep. My husband helps me with the editing and he has really high standards for the show, which I think has made 'The Birth Hour' stand out from so many other independent podcasts. We don't have the resources of NPR but we want the listening experience to be a quality one."
I logged on to listen to the latest podcast, which featured Dr. Jessica Zucker discussing her miscarriage and her rainbow, a special podcast in honor of October as Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. Having gone through my own miscarriage very recently, I soaked up every word of the podcast—and I can tell you, Huntpalmer has accomplished her goal. The listening experience is incredible.
When you listen to "The Birth Hour" podcast, you may want to make sure you're not doing anything that requires a lot of attention, because you will get sucked in. Some of the stories you will hear include:
- A woman who was a surrogate for her brother after his wife had to have a hysterectomy
- What it's like going through a plus-size pregnancy
- This mom who had to give birth in a moving car on the highway while her husband went into a total panic
- A mom who didn't know she was pregnant at 8 months—and gave birth within a week of discovering she was pregnant
"My goal with the podcast is to educate women about their options so they can make informed decisions based on their knowledge," says Huntpalmer. "I love recording all types of birth stories, because I know there are thousands of women out there listening who can relate to that mom in some small way and not feel so alone in their experience. I'm constantly received emails and comments from women who say that the podcast has changed their life and made them feel empowered which is the greatest motivation to me to keep going!"
"The Birth Hour" has also sparked an online movement, with both a website and an Instagram account boasting an impressive 103K followers. And although she loves the podcast aspect of what she has created, Huntpalmer says she has a special place in her heart for the online community.
"I love Instagram for the visual aspect, since birth is so often portrayed in mainstream media as this scary, medicalized, one-size-fits-all experience," she notes. "I share all types of birth photos from serene water births to images of moms pulling out their own baby during a Cesarean. I love the community aspect because it's all about women supporting women. I get so many comments each day that it's hard for me to keep up and moms, midwives and doulas will chime in and answer questions asked by first-time moms or women who had never considered certain things—like delayed cord clamping, for example."
Huntpalmer's podcast has become so popular that she has to turn away some mothers, which she hates doing. She's currently working on branching out and redesigning her website to allow more birth stories. And to make "The Birth Hour" an even larger success, she's hoping to gather more high-profile stories.
"I'd also love to interview an influencer with a large audience in order to reach more women—so if anyone knows Kim Kardashian, hook me up!" says Huntpalmer.
Got a great birth story? You can sign up for The Birth Hour's waiting list here.
Photographs by: Bryn Huntpalmer