For every woman

The Birth Hour: Episode 86 – Plus Size Pregnancy & Birth Story

Why this podcast?
This is, quite simply, a birth story podcast and who doesn’t love a birth story?
The Birth Hour is a safe haven where women can share both their stories and their emotions. The birth stories come in all shapes and sizes and from all over the world. As the host, Bryn Huntpalmer, says:

’’Each episode is raw, honest, and beautiful even when the outcome of the birth may not have been what the mother had planned.’’

The pure emotion in each woman’s story comes through in every episode and the host is great at staying in the background so that the story (and sometimes the tears) can flow freely.

How was this podcast born?
After giving birth to her daughter, Bryn discovered a whole new sense of strength. She also discovered:

’’a passion for supporting women as they prepare to become mothers”

And so, The Birth Hour was born. It provides a space for women to talk about all the emotions that go along with birth and motherhood as well as sharing information about birth itself.

 How does it look?
Each week two new episodes are released and each episode is from thirty-five minutes to an hour. Every kind of birth is featured from homebirths in the backyard to unplanned C-sections.

Bryn introduces the mother and from then on it is their show.
Apart from a few well-timed questions, the host really stays pretty quiet and the women are simply given the space and time that they need to tell their story.

The Episode:
I first listened to this episode on plus size pregnancy and birth a few months ago whilst out running. Although I am not a plus size woman I was completely blown away by the power of the emotion coming through my headphones (I also learnt that it’s not easy to run and cry at the same time…).

Jen McLellan, whose birth story this is, shares how she came to see her body in a whole new light after giving birth to her son.

Who should listen to this episode?
So many women have some kind of insecurity with their body or just doubt their own amazingness. This episode will be inspiring and meaningful to just about everyone. I know I was so moved by it that I immediately shared it on my facebook page and even now, months later, it has stuck with me.

Jen’s Story:
Jen is such an interesting, eloquent person and tells her story so beautifully that I am not going to try and re-create it here. I intend to give you a few highlights and then encourage you, with all of my heart, to listen to her story for yourself.

This episode begins by capturing the mix of joy and heartache that pregnancy can mean for women of size. Jen was over the moon to get her positive result but then came across a whole lot of negativity online.

From sweeping generalisations about gestational diabetes to those who questioned if women of size should even become mothers. A confident and positive person she decided to try not to let these things bother her.

Something I really respect in this podcast is how so many women highlight the importance of choosing your care provider wisely, of making a deliberate choice as a consumer.

Jen was happy with her regular OB but after a while realised that pretty happy was not enough. She wanted someone who would truly support her and be one hundred percent on her team.

Her doula asked a question that forced Jen to think outside her comfort zone, namely, ’if you want a natural birth so much why are you planning to give birth in a hospital?’

Jen was honest with herself and realised that she simply did not have enough faith in her body to go for a homebirth. However, her doula had planted a seed…

The decision to go for a midwife led, natural birth at a hospital changed everything. Jen got to experience the kind of care that, as a woman of size, she says she never had. When she described her midwife touching her body ’with compassion’ it really hit home for me that this is not a given but that it absolutely should be.

The fantastic care she received from her midwife in combination with her body taking to pregnancy so well meant that Jen began to appreciate her body in a whole new way.

Unfortunately, when Jen went into labour at thirty-seven weeks, she was not treated kindly by staff at triage. However, she describes entering the labour room as

’’like I had walked into a cocoon of love and support’’

Her doula and midwife worked to address the fears Jen had about exposing her body. She birthed her son kneeling, leaning over the back of the bed so that only her husband, standing by her side, was visible.

The rest of the world disappeared as Jen and her husband were enveloped in their own world.

The part of her story that really holds a lot of powerful emotion for Jen (and the part that had me in tears on the track) is when she talks about holding back whilst pushing. She described the moment when her midwife quietly told her to listen to her body:

”As a person of size who had been told most of my life that my body is unacceptable, my body is wrong…the idea that I had to give control to my body…was scary”

But Jen knew that this was what she needed to do. With a voice full of emotion Jen says:

”I trusted my body…and it was the most magnificent and incredible experience of my life.”

Soon after, her son, Jayden, was born and for Jen, that moment changed forever how she would feel about her body.

I deeply encourage you to listen to Jen’s beautiful, powerful and emotional story for yourself and to share what stood out for you.

To wrap up
I simply want to end by saying that the part about trusting your body? That’s IT!! For all birthing women. Trust your body. It encompasses so much and if we could do it, how amazing could birth be? How empowering? It makes me want to jump up and down a bit just to think about it.

More episodes on this topic
Birthful: Episode 63 – Plus-Size Pregnancy & Birth with Jen McLellan

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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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