Ep 107: The Importance of Birth Stories with Bryn Huntpalmer

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Bryn Huntpalmer is the founder of The Birth Hour podcast which was featured as one of the 'Top 50 Podcasts" by Time Magazine and has over 13 million downloads to date. She is passionate about helping pregnant people prepare for childbirth through the sharing of empowering and informative birth stories as well as her online evidence-based childbirth course called "Know Your Options". Bryn is also the author of the best-selling book, "The First-Time Mom's Pregnancy Handbook: A Week-by-Week Guide from Conception Through Baby's First 3 Months" and co-Author of "Essential Pregnancy Q&A: Expert Answers and Advice for Every Stage of Your Pregnancy and Postpartum Journey." 

It was such a pleasure to speak with Bryn. Although we are in similar spaces in that we both have podcasts related to pregnancy and birth and we both have online childbirth education classes, there's no need for a sense of competition; we can collaborate in ways that best support birthing people.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why Bryn started the Birth Hour podcast
  • Why she focuses exclusively on birth stories
  • Why she is intentionally hands off in her interview approach
  • Which similarities and differences she has observed across birth stories
  • How sharing birth stories has shaped the way pregnancy and birth are approached
  • Where she sees the pregnancy and birth space heading
  • How important it is to be informed and empowered when things don’t go as you expected

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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Ep 107: The Importance of Birth Stories with Bryn Huntpalmer

Nicole: Super excited about this interview with Bryn Huntpalmer, the host of the Birth Hour podcast.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 107. Thank you for being here with me today. I'm so excited to have Bryn Huntpalmer on the podcast today. Bryn is the founder of the Birth Hour podcast. The Birth Hour podcast was featured as one of the top 50 podcast by Time Magazine. And it has over 13 million downloads to date. Bryn is passionate about helping pregnant people prepare for childbirth through the sharing of empowering and informative birth stories, as well as her online evidence-based childbirth course called Know Your Options. Bryn is also the author of the best selling book, The First Time Moms Pregnancy Handbook: A Week-by-Week Guide From Conception Through Baby's First Three Months, and co-author of Essential Pregnancy Q and A Expert Answers And Advice for Every Stage of Your Pregnancy and Postpartum Journey. Bryn lives in Austin, Texas, a super popular spot these days with her husband, Richard, and their three young children. It was such a pleasure to speak with Bryn, although we are in similar spaces and that we both have podcasts related to pregnancy and birth, and we both have online childbirth education classes. There is no need for a sense of competition in this space. We can collaborate in ways that best support birthing people. So we have a great conversation about why she started the Birth Hour podcast, why she focuses exclusively on birth stories, while she's intentionally hands-off in her interview style. That is something that I noticed when I shared my birth story on her podcast. And I'll link to that episode in the show notes. Also, we talk about some similarities and differences that she's noted about birth through different stories, her thoughts on where she sees the birth space going and much, much more.

Nicole: This was a really great conversation. She has lovely energy and I so enjoyed it. Now, before we get into the episode, let me do a listener shout out. This is from, um, areas T D LEFA. I'm just going to spell it out also, just in case A R R E S capital T, then lowercase, D L E F F a. And the title of the review says informative, soothing and thoughtful. Dr. Rankins' podcast has been such an important tool for myself and my birthing partner, as we prepare for our first baby. Navigating pregnancy and preparing for parenthood is so challenging, especially during COVID. Dr. Rankins provides her professional insight as a practicing OB GYN, host, expert guest, to discuss things varying from hypnobirthing and nutrition, to choosing a pediatrician and gives women a platform to tell their own birth stories. I've already learned so much. And I look forward to every episode as both a learning opportunity and a chance to feel soothed by her calming voice and demeanor.

Nicole: Oh my goodness. Thank you for that. Lovely review. You certainly know how to make a woman feel good. I so, so appreciate you taking the time to share that review with me. And I am grateful that I'm able to help you in your pregnancy and birthing journey that just made my day. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now, besides this podcast, I got a whole host of resources for you on my website. Also, if you go to drnicolerankins.com/resources, I have a bunch of guides, free guides that you can download. They're two of the most popular ones and ones that I recommend everybody get. There's a great, it's like a, I dunno, maybe 15 page guide to managing pain in labor, where you'll learn about all the various options for managing pain, medication-free techniques, nitrous, oxide, epidurals, all of that good, great stuff. The pros cons risks benefits of each. That guide is completely free.

Nicole: There's also a really important guide on warning signs to look out for postpartum. A lot of people don't realize that 60% of maternal mortality actually happens after birth within those first six weeks after birth. So it's really important that, you know, warning signs to look out for just in case. So you can grab that free guide again, that's drnicolerankins.com/resources, and you can see those two guides there. There're also guides there to prenatal tests, meditation, questions to ask if you were giving birth in a hospital with medical students and residents. So go check all those free resources out. All right, let's get into the episode with Bryn Huntpalmer.

Nicole: Thank you so much for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I am so excited to have you here.

Bryn: I am so happy to be here. It was fun having you share your birth story on our podcast, and now it's nice to be on the other side of the microphone.

Nicole: Thank you. Thank you. And I appreciate you having me on. So why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, your work and your family?

Bryn: Sure, sure. My name's Bryn Huntpalmer and I live in Austin, Texas with my three kiddos and husband. And, um, I am the host of the Birth Hour podcast and it's all birth stories. So it started in 2015 and we're going on 500 or so episodes at this point. Um, and yeah, it's been really fun. We've expanded that to include a childbirth course and then a website with lots of great articles and content. And, um, I just love what I do so happy to be here.

Nicole: Yes, yes. Yeah. We're going to talk all about what, what you do and how you got here and all that good, great stuff. And let me ask, how do you like Austin? Austin is like the hot spot in Texas.

Bryn: I know it's crazy actually right now our realtor is like, are you sure you don't want to sell your house, cuz people are paying like a lot of money .

Bryn: There's hardly any available. Um, we really like, it there's a lot going on, of course, during COVID, he can't really do the, the live music and the good restaurants and all that stuff. Right. Um, but I grew up in Texas and Houston and I definitely prefer Austin to Houston, so we're happy to be here. Got it.

Nicole: Gotcha. So let's talk about your podcast. You have the most popular birth podcast. It's over 500 episodes. If I read correctly over 13 million downloads. So what led you to start this podcast?

Bryn: Well, I got hooked on podcasts via my husband, I think before they were really a thing for a lot of people. It was a lot of like financial podcasts and stuff like that. And he would listen to them in the car and I would be so bored. And then he introduced me to the serial podcast, which I think it's like a gateway podcast. So

Nicole: Serial season one is one of the best like series of podcasting that has ever been.

Bryn: I know. And so that's what got me hooked. We, we lived in Oregon at the time, kind of in a rural area. So we had a lot of long drives and our, our kiddos were young enough that we could still listen to whatever we wanted. And so I got really hooked on podcasts and we would just talk in the car. I'm like, wouldn't it be cool if we had our own podcast and we kind of tossed around some ideas. And then now that none of those came to fruition and then one day I just had like one of those, like, it sounds so cliche, but it was definitely one of those like aha moments where I just thought about, Oh, I should do one with birth stories. Cause I just loved reading birth stories so much when I was pregnant and it just was a great fit for me.

Nicole: Yeah. And then you realize it's actually not that it's easy to do a podcast, but the, the it's actually not like super duper hard either.

Bryn: Right. That's what I tell people. It's like the easiest startup costs for a business for sure. Because all you need is a computer really. So, and we did all the editing ourselves and all that stuff. So lots of late nights for a couple of years there, but it's definitely a bit worth it.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So what did you do before that? Were you at home with your children or

Bryn: I was kind of doing a little bit of everything. I worked in development for nonprofits for a while and then I'm in marketing. And so when I started the podcast, I was working for a startup in Austin and marketing. And so that was actually really helpful because I had a lot of, um, guidance as far as, you know, building out the best website and SEO and all that kind of stuff. So it was a nice transition. And I did that, you know, at the same time as, as doing the podcast for like two years as well.

Nicole: Got it. Gotcha. So your podcast is all about birth stories. So what led you to specifically focus on birth stories?

Bryn: I think it was just my own love for birth stories. Um, like I said, when I was pregnant, I read them all the time and I would stay up way too late doing that, uh, super pregnant reading, like every blogger who had ever written out their birth story. It was kind of a thing at that point. A lot of, you know, blogging was really big at that point. And I think pretty much all the mom bloggers kind of started writing their birth stories and I would really look for, um, home birth stories cause that's what I was planning. And, and so it was just kind of a natural transition when I had this aha moment. It was like, Oh, where do moms have time to listen to things it's, you know, driving their kids around or making dinner and things like that versus no one really has the time to just sit in front of a computer and read a bunch of blogs these days. So it's really been a good, um, a good fit, I think for my audience too.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now you mentioned that you were, you know, you were looking for home birth stories because that's what you were planning, but actually in your podcast you cover everything. Like if it's happened in pregnancy, then it's probably been one of your podcasts, whether it's home birth, hospital birth, birth center, VBACs, cesarean, premie. I mean, high-risk pregnancy just about everything. So what, um, led you to like have such a broad focus and is that a challenge at times?

Bryn: Yeah, so it hasn't really created any challenges for me just because that's been kind of the entire goal of the podcast was always to share all types of stories. And I do try to be really descriptive in the titles. So listeners can choose to skip over any, you know, specific episodes that they aren't interested in because I'm sure that would be challenging for some people that don't want to hear, you know, a certain type of birth. Um, but I think one thing that's really helped is that I've just stayed committed to only sharing birth stories. And I get pitched all the time for topic based podcasts and I, I turned them down because there's so many great podcasts out there like yours. I know you do a little bit of both topic based and birth stories, but um, yeah, there's already those out there. And so the Birth Hour really just has always been about sticking to those birth stories. So, yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. And how many submissions do you get like on a monthly basis for people to be on your podcast?

Bryn: I don't keep track on a monthly basis, but we have close to like 5,000 right now.

Nicole: Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Bryn: Quite the spreadsheet. I have someone helping me, um, go through those, but yeah, it's so hard because I wish we could, you know, share them all. Of course.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So your format for your podcast is that you're fairly hands off in terms of asking questions of your guests. Is that intentional and if so, why did you choose that format?

Bryn: Yeah, it is, it is intentional. Um, and I do get criticized for it in my reviews sometimes. Um, but I figured the people that don't like, it will just find another podcast. That's a better fit. Um, but yeah, when I first started the podcast, I was really very aware of, you know, my own experiences having home births and that, that wasn't the norm. And I didn't want my opinions and choices around birth to weigh in when my guests are telling their stories. And I knew I wanted to share all types of stories. Um, and then actually about a year into the podcast, I took a birth story listening course, which I didn't know that was a thing. Yeah, exactly. Um, it was with Pam England, uh, that wrote Birthing From Within that's a great book. Yeah. She's huge on she actually trains birth story listeners. Um, and it's a thing to help people process their birth stories.

Bryn: And I didn't want that to be my profession, but I thought it would be a really useful course to take with what I do obviously. Um, and in taking that course, I learned that my instincts had been, you know, very much right in that area because she talks extensively about how as birth story listeners are comments and even non-verbal reactions, even like the one example that stands out to me is like, if you're in person with someone like handing them, tissues is kind of like saying, you know, here wipe all your tears. Like there's something wrong with crying, that kind of thing. And it can really affect the person's feelings about their birth, um, and what they, how they remember it. Um, even like a nurse in the room kind of be like, Oh, that was crazy when such and such happened. Like that's not really super helpful because the birthing person that's still processing what happened on their own. And there's just so much power in simply being a safe place for people to just share their story without commentary.

Nicole: Interesting. I like that. I'll have to think about if I, I hope, you know, if I'm like interjecting my own sort of opinions and thoughts when I have people talk about their birth stories, is there anything else other than just sorta keeping an open platform that people should be mindful of in general when listening to people's birth stories?

Bryn: Well, one thing from that, from that same course that I thought was really interesting was she talks about like the different stages of processing your story. And she, she mentioned you, the first one you get is everyone else's reaction around you. Um, and then the second one is kind of like this, you're just happy you have a safe, you know, healthy baby. And so she was saying, you know, the hospitals often have you fill out some kind of survey before you even leave, but she's like, oftentimes people haven't even processed what they feel, you know, or what actually went down. And so it actually, it might be helpful to do that survey a couple of weeks later. Um, and then you kind of just work through the different stages of processing, your story on your own. Um, and I can't remember all the different stages, but it was really interesting to, to hear that aspect of it.

Nicole: Sure. Interesting and affirming, like you said. Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, one thing I get questions on and not, not a lot, but not infrequently. I know I very clearly talk about birth in the hospital because not that I have anything against birth center or home birth at all is perfectly great for, um, people who are appropriate candidates, but I, what I know is hospital birth. So that talks about, but, uh, you've heard a lot of birth stories from all different types of births. So I'm curious, what are some things or similarities that you've heard about giving birth, whether it's between different settings or different types of births, what are some similarities or things that you've noticed? Yeah.

Bryn: Yeah. I think that, you know, no matter the setting, the main thing is really just feeling informed and empowered is really the biggest factor in whether, you know, the birthing person has a positive birth experience because if you're surrounding yourself with a supportive birth team and feel like you're an active participant, um, even when things go, maybe off course, you feel a lot more in control there. And, and typically look back on your birth more fondly. And that's the thing that seems to come up constantly in the birth stories that we hear, no matter how crazy the story is, I'm always amazed to hear how they feel about it. You know, I often ask the question, you know, how did you feel emotionally processing your story? And, and that seems to be the biggest factor, no matter where the location was.

Nicole: Yeah. I agree when 100%, even people that have had like difficult experiences or didn't go exactly the way that they wanted, um, it, if they felt like an empowered and informed participant in the experience and like they were respected and listened to then regardless of what, you know, pain medication option you chose or how your baby came out of your body, people seem to be okay, even if it's not like, not that they're necessarily happy, but they're not, um, traumatized by it. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So what about things that you have seen that are like differences between births, whether it's the setting or the type of birth, um, what are some things that you've noticed?

Bryn: Yeah, I think that, uh, typically, you know, those, those that are giving birth at a hospital have had more birth education prior to giving birth, um, because it's usually built into their prenatal care in some way. Um, and I know that there are hospital courses and people might do like the day-long course or something like that, but it's often not enough to really make them feel like we were talking about, you know, involved and informed in their care. And so I think that that really impacts their story. And I always or, it seems like I often hear that, you know, someone had their first birth in the hospital and just thought they would just, you know, go in and have a baby. And like everyone has your best interest and it's all good.

Nicole: That is so not true. Right.

Bryn: Yeah. Unfortunately that's not the case most of the time. Um, and so then they're coming back and also sharing, you know, their second birth or third birth where they did dive into, you know, educating themselves and preparing to give birth. And so, I mean, certainly that's not an indicator, you know, where you give birth is, is how educated you are on birth. But I just think that it comes up a lot in the stories that I hear is that people are just pushed to do that education on their own when they're planning an out of hospital birth, because oftentimes midwives, you know, require it or offer it themselves and that type of thing. Yeah. They have longer appointments. Oh yes. The hour long appointments are definitely not the norm, unfortunately.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, one of the things I say is that honestly, what it ultimately comes down to, and I'm curious how you feel about this. You can have a bad experience giving birth with a doctor. You can have a bad experience giving birth with a midwife. You can have a bad experience giving birth at home at a birth center or at a hospital it's really about having the right people as part of your birth team, wherever you are. Um, I think it's more likely that the hospital's going to be problematic just because we know the system. But, um, I worry sometimes when I hear people say like, Oh, I'm just going to have a home birth and that's going to fix everything. It's really deeper than that. Yeah. Or I'm going to have a birth center birth and that fixed everything. You know, like I said, it's deeper than that. What do you, what are your thoughts?

Bryn: I totally agree. And I think that, you know, things can go off course, no matter what the setting. And also, I think sometimes, you know, if you didn't do your due diligence to make sure the care provider was a good fit for you, it can be even more devastating in a birth center or home birth scenario because you feel the stronger connection or expectation for what that will look like, um, with that midway or other care provider. And so it's even more of a let down versus the hospital, which I feel like oftentimes we kind of prepare ourselves for, you know, I'll get the doctor that's on call and I'm not going to know exactly who it's going to be. And so you maybe don't get quite as attached to that, you know, view of what your birth is going to look like with that person.

Nicole: Yeah. That, that's a, that's a really good point how it could potentially be even even more difficult. I hadn't even, hadn't even thought about that. So, um, how have you seen, you've obviously been in this space for a while. How have you seen things change throughout the course of your work and interacting with people in terms of the way pregnancy and birth is approached, especially in the U S?

Bryn: Yeah. I think that just being in this space over the last five or so years, um, I've really seen that the, the realities of pregnancy birth and postpartum, you know, the more nitty gritty stuff is being talked about so much more, which I think has had a really big impact. And, um, a lot of that goes back to, you know, sharing stories and images and real life experiences of what it's like to have a baby. Um, and it's something that didn't exist even just 10 years ago when I was pregnant with my first, there was, you know, maybe one or two blogs where you could see some of this stuff, but you know, now on Instagram birth images, um, don't get banned for nudity because it's birth, you know, and that, which was ridiculous when it was, it was ridiculous, but like, and those images were impossible to see prior to social media, really, like, you might see a few in like a textbook or something like that, but who's, who's going out of their way to find those. And so, um, and this, uh, this trend of sharing your postpartum picture in your mesh panties, like I just loved that so much because I would not have known anything about these mesh panties before having a baby. And those things are fabulous by the way. They're great. I ordered extra on Amazon. They are so wonderful. Yeah. They're great.

Nicole: Oh, that's, I think that that's so important because like TV in the movies is such like, not a representation of what birth is really like. And I think like back in the day, it used to be that you would see, I hate to say like back in the back of the day, but you'd be around it more like when people were giving birth at home, like the other kids would see what it was like, and you would know what it was like, but now that's not the case anymore. So we don't see any, um, depictions of it. Yeah. Yeah. So where do you think, like where is the pregnancy and birth space sorta heading, moving? What are your thoughts on that?

Bryn: Yeah, I mean, I think that hopefully just continuing to head in this, in this direction of, of sharing more and being more open and honest about what it's really like to have a baby more focused on postpartum is my hope. Um, and then, you know, 2020 being everything that it was, I think one thing that came more to the surface for a more mainstream audience in this space is the issues around birth justice and the racial disparities that we're seeing in maternity care and birth and postpartum. And I'm hoping that, you know, that will be, you know, discussed more and more research more and hopefully moving trending in a better direction. Hopefully.

Nicole: Yeah. Hopefully I hope so. We're I think we're getting better. We still have a ways to go. Of course. Yeah. How do you feel about, um, different types of birth professionals working together more collaboratively? Have you noticed or seen anything? Oh, man. About that, that's one of the things that I would like to see more.

Bryn: Yeah. Yeah. I would love that. I think one thing that, um, that is going in the right direction is the fact that, you know, doulas and lactation consultants are more commonplace. You know, I don't think people really even use the word doula, uh, on a regular basis when I was having my first. Or if you said it, they didn't know what it was even five years ago and midwife too like, Oh, what's that a witch doctor? Like, what are you talking about? So I think that those things are becoming more, more talked about in common. And then, yeah, I mean, I would love to see more collaborative care. I, you know, every time I hear a birth story where someone says they had co-care, I'm always like, tell me more like, where's this like unicorn state you live in and oftentimes it's Canada, but, um, yeah, I think that that would be great for more options to be available. I think we've got to figure out this insurance mess first because that's the limiting factor for so many people, unfortunately. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Unfortunately. So I really hope we can get to a point where we can all physicians, midwives, doulas, um, the home birth community that we can work collaboratively to help to put like the pregnant person at the center of the experience and then kind of tweak the system to best serve their needs. I think we're getting better, but it's going to be a while. I don't know if it will be, I hate to be pessimistic. I'm like, I don't know if it'll be in the course of my career, but we'll get, but we're, I think we're getting better and more open to it.

Bryn: Yeah, I think so too. I think that even, like you said, five years ago, I think doulas were kind of seen as this, like affront, you know, in the labor room and nurses were standoffish. And I think that more and more nurses are realizing, Hey, these, these people are making my job easier. Um, and they're here to help. So I would love to see more doulas, you know, being provided by the hospital as well.

Nicole: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. And paid for by insurance would be another thing. Yeah. All right. So after having recorded so many birth stories and having a childbirth education class, what are three things that you would love to share that you feel are really important to help someone who is currently pregnant?

Bryn: Uh, it's so hard to like narrow it down to three, but if you can share more, I'll probably just talk a bunch and we'll count them up and hopefully it'll be three. Alrighty. I think the number one thing, and we talk about this quite a bit in our, um, in our online childbirth course is that the most important decisions you can make are usually around where you plan to give birth and who your care provider is. So, you know, get very familiar with the policies at your birth location and ask questions around things that are important to you, you know, as far as the type of birth that you want, um, and you know, don't just say, this is what I want. Will you do that? Like ask them what their norm is, because that's more likely going to be what you get too.

Nicole: Yeah. I mean the two biggest factors that will influence your birth are the culture of wherever you give birth. So the culture of the hospital or whatever, and the provider, those are the two biggest things are going to influence it. So yeah. I love that. Yeah.

Bryn: Yeah. That's our big thing. We talk about a lot. And then, um, the last thing I'd say is just to keep in mind that birth is unpredictable and, you know, once you've done everything you can to inform yourself and prepare, try your best to just, you know, get in the right mindset and accept, you know, the things that might change as hard as that is. I think that, you know, I had this with my first birth. I was so set on a home birth and, and that is what ultimately happened for me, but I don't, like I did not prepare at all for a hospital transfer. And now, you know, with our, our core students, we talk a lot about that. It's like, you want to know what, what you're going to be walking into if that happens for you. So, um, yeah. Just think about things outside of your birth, you know, quote unquote birth plan,

Nicole: For sure, for sure. Because I think, um, although social media has been great in that it has, um, you know, really opened up the possibilities of what we see about birth it also on the flip side, some things can be sort of, um, I don't know what the word is that, you know, like made social media pretty, right. Like I have this like BA exactly this perfect unmedicated birth and everything's going to go like textbook smooth. And you just, I always say like the baby is the only one who's in control and they don't tell us yeah plan to do. Yeah. So it's like that unpredictable piece is just so key. And I think sort of key in like, like we talked about earlier and being happy or feeling okay about the experience afterwards. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, what would you say is the most rewarding part of it?

Bryn: Oh, that's definitely hearing from listeners who have been impacted by the stories that we share sometimes, you know, it's even in huge life saving ways. Um, for example, I've received quite a few messages, uh, from moms who heard about cholestasis for the first time on the podcast. And they messaged me and say, this is, I would have never known this is why I even brought up my itchy hands to my care provider. Um, and ended up delivering, you know, a couple of days later because of it and that kind of thing. Um, I've also heard similar stories about postpartum preeclampsia, which is something I probably wouldn't have myself been that tuned into. And so just being able to share all types of stories, even if, you know, one is really super uncommon, but it helps one person. I just get goosebumps every time I get one of those messages. And I'm just so grateful for, you know, my guests that come on and are willing to share their stories.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. That is a really rewarding part because I can imagine when you started this, like, did you have any, like, I'm going to have this many, I'm going to have you just like, I'm just doing this thing and let's see where it goes.

Bryn: Yeah. I had no idea what was ahead. We still my husband and I still talk about that so crazy.

Nicole: Right, right. Right. So on the flip side, kind of, what's the most frustrating part of your work?

Bryn: Probably, you know, the social media haters and the, I don't even read the iTunes reviews because my husband's like, you don't want to see the bad ones and the majority are good, but I'll just like focus on the bad one for way too long. And so, you know, for the most part, my audience is really inclusive and supportive, but there's always going to be those people that feel the need to come and spread some hate and it can just be exhausting to monitor those comments. And I'm still working on not letting it affect my mental health and keeping my eyes forward, but it can be, it can be hard. I'm a, I'm a human over here and it's tough sometimes. So

Nicole: Yeah, it's, it's sometimes you're like, why, why can, why don't you just like keep to yourself? Like,

Bryn: Yeah. Especially when it's on something so weird. Like the other day I posted a picture of a, um, a really long umbilical cord. It was just really super cool. And the comments I got about like, well, did that person even want that many people in the room and why didn't they do delayed cord clamping and dah dah? I'm like, Oh my God, gosh, she's posted a cool picture. It's just really cool. But the majority of people are like, wow, it's amazing. Never seen such a long cord. Um, but yeah, it's just funny. Cause like I personally would never stop to like leave a comment like that. I might, even if I think something, I wouldn't like feel the need to put it out there. So it's just hard for me to understand those people, because I know they wouldn't say that kind of thing, you know, to your face. And so social media lends itself to some ridiculousness.

Nicole: Keyboard, keyboard, bullies as I call them. Yep. Yep. Yeah. So do you, do you manage your own because you have over like a hundred thousand followers, so you must get messages all the time. Do you manage your social media, your site?

Bryn: I shouldn't, but I do. I have control issues too. Did I mention that? Um, let me raise my hand. Yeah. I'm actually working on hiring a COO a community manager at this moment. Um, but yeah, it's been, and it's been, it's been interesting because, you know, I started this whole thing while also having a full-time job and two young kids at home and managed to do it all then. So even then once it grew and I could maybe afford to bring someone on, I'm like, well now I don't have that other full-time job. So why shouldn't I just be able to do it all? You know? And so it's just kind of trying to, you know, focus where I should be putting my efforts, but

Nicole: Yeah. Well it's clear that your heart, I mean, this is like your, your, your passion and like really your purpose. Um, it, and so it's probably to some degree it's hard to let go of some of those things. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, um, what's your favorite, favorite piece of advice and maybe you've shared it already. You can say it again, if not, what's your favorite piece of advice that you'd like to give to expectant families?

Bryn: Well, I try not to give too much advice because every single person's experience is going to be so different. Even with my best friend, she'll be like, well, this is this like this for you. And I'm like, I don't think so. I don't remember. Um, but I do like to talk with expected families about, you know, preparing for postpartum, I think is the biggest thing, because I think we so often spend so much energy taking care of ourselves during pregnancy and thinking about the birth that we completely forget about postpartum and it's a big wake-up call. And so especially first time parents, I like to really focus on that and, and just give them advice around, um, getting their support network in place and thinking about, you know, who's going to take time off when, and just all those little details, setting boundaries, things like that that are really important for helping make that transition easier. Cause it's, it's so hard.

Nicole: It is. And the medical system, at least not the traditional medical system really doesn't do anything to prepare you or help you with with that. And it's, and it's, it's really, um, you know, now that you bring it up, I feel like I'm curious what you would think. It's not that it, you, you can't prepare for like the first year or whatever postpartum is probably just a few things for those first, like six to eight weeks to help you deal with the unpredictability and um, this tiny human that you're now responsible for and the emotional ups and downs and, um, all of those things. So I don't think anybody's trying to like say you have to get ready for the whole first year postpartum. It's really like within those first few weeks, because I mean, let's be honest, the medical system abandons women almost in the postpartum, we're getting better. Yeah.

Bryn: Yeah. It's, it's not great. Um, we were actually just talking about this on one of our Zoom calls that we do with our, our core students. And one of them was bringing up like, yeah, I feel like, um, the emotional aspect and the mental health aspect actually is being talked about more, but we're now we're not sharing the physical aspects of postpartum. And like how common things like dealing with really bad tears are, or prolapse and stuff like that. And she's like, it's really, really isolating to be dealing with the physical aspect and feel like no one's prepared me for it. And we were all kind of just talking about it like, well, I wonder if we don't talk about it because we don't want to scare people and it's not going to happen to everyone. And I don't know. What are your thoughts on that?

Nicole: That's a really good, a really good question. It's hard. It's hard to know the balance. I mean, honestly I think from the medical system, we don't talk about anything because of the payment structure, um, of the way like pregnancy is paid for as a single global fee. And then once the baby is out, then we feel like, you know, our risk, our job is done. So, um, that's why it's not talked about, but I think in terms of, um, like why we don't talk about it more. We also, I don't think we necessarily know so much because we, we don't see people until six weeks postpartum. We're not like checking on them. We don't call, we're starting to change that. But honestly we don't really necessarily know what people have experienced or what they feel like in those first couple of weeks postpartum, for sure. Yeah.

Bryn: Does that weigh on you at all? Like, I'm just curious from your perspective, not being able to connect?

Nicole: That is 100% something that I always, I don't practice in the office anymore because I practice as a Haas as a hospitalist now. But when I was in the office, it was very tricky to like, how do you sort of make that change where you say like, you know, I would like you to come back in a week so we can kind of talk about things and see where things are. It's definitely can be. I love what I do as a hospitalist, only working in the hospital, but it's also, I only work in the hospital, so I can't, I don't follow people during pregnancy. I don't have

Bryn: Really a strong relationship

Nicole: Yeah. For that's going to be like that sort of longitudinal piece. I mean, I do very good with folks swap, do you know, during their birth, but yeah, it definitely does weigh on me to try to find the right, the right balance for what works and what serves, um, what we can do to serve pregnant people the best. Um, it's definitely a challenge, but that postpartum piece, for sure. And maybe myself having after my first one, I had anxiety, I looking back, I had terrible postpartum anxiety, but I just didn't know. And I'm an obstetrician. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, it does. It does weigh on me. Um, for sure. I think it weighs on, uh, on a lot of us I would imagine. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But we're, we're making some, and then it's also hard because some people don't need necessarily that hands-on like, if it's your second or third baby, you may not need so much, um, of people kind of touching basis. I do think after your first baby, we should probably like really sorta, you know, nurture people or be available for sure. And those first, that first month postpartum, because taking care of a human being can be a and yourself

Bryn: At the same time. Yeah. And all the things going on yeah. With your body, it's just like, yes, I have a word that's not probably okay to use on the podcast, but it's an S show. Yeah.

Nicole: I mean, it is like you don't want to scare people, but it is it's and, and you can, there's some element of like, you won't understand until you go through it, but you can have some idea of what to expect and know, like, I'm not crazy for what I feel like, because I'm not connecting to this baby right away. Like that's okay. Or that I'm like crying in the bathroom or, you know, all of the, all of it is like there's a wide range of things. And to know that ahead of time, I think would be helpful. Yeah.

Bryn: Yeah. I was the first of my friends really to have a baby and there were a couple moms in my community that I really didn't know at all, but they, I think we'd met like a Le Leche league meeting or something and they just really reached out and were so supportive. And, and so I've always tried to do that going forward with especially first time parents because, Oh, it means so much. And I think that we don't truly understand it until we've had a baby ourselves. So all my friends that were, you know, very wrapped up in their wedding planning and things like that, you know, couldn't really understand what I was going through. So yeah,

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. For sure. So, um, where can people find you? We, I know you have, you said you have an online course and I, I am all about collaboration like, or, or, you know, there's collaboration over competition. I should say. As you know, there are lots of different options out there. I just want people to find something that works best for them. And like 4 million people have babies in our country. There's plenty of space for all of us. So tell us about your course. Um, I know you have a Patrion where you have like more like behind the scenes sort of stuff. So your website, can people find you?

Bryn: Yeah, we've got a few different things going on. Um, yeah, like you mentioned, our online childbirth course it's called Know Your Options. So it kind of fits in with a lot of what we've been talking about, but, um, it takes you from the final weeks of pregnancy and then of course preparing for the birth and we cover all different types of birth. We cover induction plans, this area and unplanned cesarean, um, out of hospital, all these things. So I collaborated with an, uh, childbirth educator, um, lactation consultant and doula on that course. And we're super proud of it. And that's just, you can just go to the website, thebirthhour.com and you'll see those listed there at the top of the website. And then on social media, we're just The Birth Hour, pretty much on all the platforms and what else? Oh yes. And then in our Patrion, um, that has been a really big focus for 2020, which turned out to be so great, not knowing what 2020 was going to look like. Um, but being able to connect with these are our listeners supporters. So Patrion is a platform where you can pledge a certain amount each month to support creators that you love, and then you get fun perks in return. So one thing we did recently was we launched a second podcast. That's only, um, via Patrion where my husband interviews partners on their perspective of pregnancy and birth and postpartum. And those have been really neat to hear. And so, yeah, you can connect there. That's um, patrion.com/birthhour.

Nicole: Nice. Nice. Love it. Love it. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come one. It was delightful to chat with you today.

Bryn: Thank you for having me. It was great being on your podcast. I think I told you, when you came on the Birth Hour, how much I love your voice and that I can totally see that you're you would be a podcaster because it's so soothing.

Nicole: Thank you. I so appreciate that every time people tell me that I'm still like, okay, but now I'm trying to learn how to say, just say thank you. So thank you.

Nicole: Wow. What a great conversation. As I said, I love Bryn's energy. And as you can see, we share a lot of similarities in our thoughts about birth. And I appreciated the opportunity to be able to chat with her. Now, after every episode where I have a guest, I do something called Nicole's Notes where I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the conversation. So here are my Nicole's notes from my conversation with Bryn, number one, we said this during the episode, I'm going to say it again, being informed and empowered, even when things don't go as you expect, that is what will make you feel at peace with your birth experience. I say this over and over and over again, this is what is a beautiful birth. A beautiful birth is not based on where you give birth or who is there or that it happens a certain way with pain managed a certain way.

Nicole: A beautiful birth is really when you feel like you were an informed and empowered participant in your birth, that is what makes the experience so meaningful. Even when things go crazy. Sometimes now, one of the best ways of course, to be informed and empowered is good childbirth education. Of course, I have an option. The Birth Preparation Course. I recently rerecorded the entire course added two additional hours of content, more content for medication free pain management techniques, more content with visuals and things to help you better understand labor and the process of birth, positions to try, more content on the postpartum period. So you can check out everything that's in the completely updated course at my website, drnicolerankins.com/enroll. But of course, my course is not the only option out there. Really. The most important thing that I want to emphasize is that you do some sort of childbirth education.

Nicole: Bryn has a childbirth education class as well. Each of us is going to be a fit for different people. And the most important thing, again, that I want you to take away is to please do childbirth education, find something that works for you. This links very closely with point number two, which is when giving birth in the hospital, you really have to educate yourself even more because childbirth education is typically not built into prenatal care visits. If you're in a traditional hospital system where you see a physician for prenatal care, those visits are short. They're typically five to 10 minutes. Education may consist of a pamphlet or like a packet of information. And it's just not a lot of hands on in-depth information there that is even gotten less in COVID times where appointments are more spaced out and may potentially be shorter. So especially I think when you're giving birth in a hospital, you need to educate yourself. And then point number three, the question about how, the way we care for women postpartum, does that weigh on me? I have to say that that brought up some feelings of guilt. Um, you know, I wish that when I was in the office that I would have been bolder about speaking up and trying to change the system for better when I was in more traditional kind of in the office, prenatal care. I don't think I had, I know I didn't, I hadn't quite found my voice and ability to speak up, even when I knew things weren't right. And I do have some lingering guilt about that. So I don't know if I'm feeling just sort of confessional a bit on the podcast today, but I am certainly committed going forward to changing things as best I can using my voice, using my power to help make the system better for birthing people. All right. So there you have it, be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. And, um, if you feel so inclined, go ahead and leave me that honest review in Apple Podcast in particular, it helps other women to find the show.

Nicole: I also do shout outs from those reviews as well. And speaking of helping other women to find the show, y'all, the podcast just recently crossed over half a million downloads. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am so grateful that you allow me to be in your ears week after week after week. And it is just such an amazing milestone to reach over half a million downloads. I'm super excited to get to the million mark. Also do me a solid and come follow me over on Instagram. That's my favorite social media platform. I love hanging out on Instagram. I'm almost to 10,000 followers there and I would love for you to help me get to 10,000 followers when you get to 10,000, you get that swipe up feature. And I just feel like for like your Instagram stories and maybe I just have it all in my head, but I, I just feel like it would be easier for me, the link resources that people could go to if I could have that swipe up feature. So I need 10,000 followers. So come on and follow me over on Instagram. I am there @drnicolerankins. I do live Q and A sessions there. Post lots of great content. So again, come follow me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. All right. So that is it for this episode, do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works, as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.