Parenthood comes with a seemingly endless supply of instruction manuals: Dr. Spock, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, your know-it-all neighbor’s passive-aggressive remarks about your child’s lack of layers and hand sanitizer.
The best teacher, of course, is experience. Still, there’s a lot to be said for anything that educates, entertains and kills time while you’re twiddling your thumbs in the carpool lane — and that’s where podcasts come in.
If you can bear to make room in your playlist for something other than murder mysteries, you might benefit from tuning into a podcast tackling topics that are (vaguely) relevant to parenthood: trying to get pregnant, getting pregnant, raising babies and trying to keep those babies so distracted during long car journeys that they don’t even notice you’ve driven past four McDonald’s PlayPlaces.
These podcasts cover fertility, childbirth and everything that comes after. Grab your earbuds and prepare to commiserate — or at least chill out.
For some of us, the road to a positive pregnancy test is paved with ovulation sticks, syringes and tears. These podcasts help demystify the intricacies of family planning, including frank discussions of infertility and IVF.
Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure: No detail is spared in married couple Doree Shafrir and Matt Mira’s rambling but relatable conversations about low sperm count, hormone injections and unsuccessful IVF procedures. You’ll root for them to conceive — and no doubt regard them as friends — after just one listen.
Fertility Friday: This podcast approaches fertility and women’s health from a more holistic perspective. The focus here is on being in tune with your body and in control of your menstrual cycle, with topics ranging from hormone-free birth-control alternatives to understanding physical cues like cervical mucus.
IVFML: Huffington Post reporter Anna Almendrala and husband Simon Ganz weave info-packed interviews with fertility experts into their own personal experiences with IVF, PCOS and miscarriage.
Stretch marks, sonograms, childbirth, actually raising a human being… where to begin? Tune into these podcasts for advice from moms, midwives and other health pros.
The Birth Hour: Though many moms can tell you all about what happens to those best-laid birth plans, it can still be valuable to find a Plan A that makes you comfortable. Here, women share their birth stories and offer insight into different delivery methods (hypnobirthing, home births, C-sections, etc.) as well as complications that may crop up.
Common Sense Pregnancy: Women’s health expert and labor nurse Jeanne Faulkner offers advice on how to “become a mama without the drama” in this refreshingly practical podcast. Listeners can address their probing pregnancy fears or hear experts weigh in on timely topics such as health insurance, maternal health studies, race and feminism.
Not By Accident: If you’ve considered having a child on your own, documentary filmmaker Sophie Harper’s “single mother by choice” experience might help demystify the process of sperm donation, dating while pregnant and other practicalities and challenges related to parenting without a partner.
The next time you manage to carve out some alone-time, use it to unwind with some women who just. get. you.
Scummy Mummies: Remember the good ol’ days when you could giggle without threatening your pelvic floor muscles? Don’t let that stop you from enjoying U.K.-based comics Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn’s hilarious commentary on C-section scars, post-baby sex and other mommy matters.
Mirror Mirror: This beauty podcast might be best enjoyed while trying to sip post-bedtime wine through the slit in your moisturizing sheet mask. Striking a fine balance between aspirational and can-I-buy-this-at-Target? practicality, Nashville natives Jesse Harbison and Allison Duke talk all things beauty with a diverse array of cool women.
Coffee + Crumbs: Moms shall not live on epidural discussions alone. Hosts Lesley Miller, Ashlee Gadd, and April Hoss mix deep topics like divorce, mom guilt and health issues into lighthearted banter about yoga pants, bikini waxes and Whole30.
Looking to drown out the “Are we there yet?” whines but can’t face another singalong to the Moana soundtrack? These family-friendly downloads are the audio equivalent of a brownie laced with zucchini: deliciously distracting and low-key nourishing. You might even learn a thing or two as well.
Short & Curly: This Australian export has hosts Molly and Carl tackling moral dilemmas — should children be allowed to vote? What would you save first in a fire? — in a playfully philosophical way that’s sure to spark debate.
Brains On!: Science buffs can dig deep into everything from fossil fuels to farts (cue giggling in the backseat) via this podcast, which is supported in part by the National Science Foundation.
Dream Big: Even if your kiddo’s current ambition is to be Wonder Woman (honestly, same), it’s hard to not be inspired by the cool career pros interviewed by grade-schooler Eva Karpman and her mom, Olga. Celebrity dog trainers, astronauts and concert pianists have all stopped by to share their secrets to success.
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