What stemmed from a desire to learn everything she could to prepare for the birth of her second baby has now turned into a hugely popular podcast with more than 500,000 downloads. The Australian Birth Stories podcast has grown phenomenally in the 18 months since launching and Sophie Walker continues to grow it from strength to strength.

During her second pregnancy, Sophie binged on birth stories in an effort to learn as much as she could about birth and hopefully avoid the traumatic experience she had with her first son, Niko. But, as she discovered, most of the birth stories available were American, with unfamiliar hospitals and a vastly different healthcare system to what we have here in Australia.

So in May 2017 Sophie recorded the first episode of the Australian Birth Stories Podcast to build a library of birth stories for Australian mums. The first episode featured her own birth story of her second son Louis. In the weeks that followed as she tried to grow the episodes she interviewed her sister and then some close girlfriends. Today the waiting list of women who want to share their birth stories on the podcast sits at over 400 with more than 80 birth stories already recorded.

Expecting her third child, due in March 2019, Sophie is mum to two boys aged 3 and 5. She records the podcast herself, does all the editing and webpages. It is the familiar story of working around nap times, kinder drop offs and the one day each week when the kids spend the day with their grandmother. The growth of the podcast has been organic through word of mouth and the loyal Instagram following she has built which is a credit to the concept and Sophie’s hard work and dedication.

The podcast doesn’t shy away from sharing the negative birth stories as well as the positive. As Sophie explains, “The idea of the podcast is that when you go into birth you have listened to a variety of stories so won’t be completely shocked at needing an epidural or caesarean because you’ve kind of worked through that as a possibility already after listening to so many stories.”

“People are always surprised at how it unfolds. You can do all the Calmbirth or Hypnobirth in the world and then the baby has its own ideas. You can get lucky but there are so many unknowns.”

A huge portion of the podcast listeners are first time mums, terrified of the idea of childbirth who end up walking into it feeling empowered after listening to the stories of so many other women. As Sophie says, “No one else’s story has to be your story. You are going to have your own unique story. While people can be nervous to listen, listening to other people’s stories can be the best way to prepare.”

It is clear that people love to share their birth stories and that there is a captive audience keen to devour every detail of the miracle of birth. Sophie has created a safe space for birth storytelling that will be a powerful resource for this generation of mothers and beyond. The letters she receives every day from mothers who have drawn on stories they listened to on the podcast while they were in labour themselves is evidence enough of that.

 

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