Jessie Ware, critically acclaimed singer and host of the hit food podcast Table Manners, has just launched the brilliantly candid pregnancy podcast, Is It Normal?. Jessie recorded the podcast during her 3rd pregnancy over lockdown, giving her the chance to document her journey week-by-week whilst speaking to a host of experts and contributors.
When I speak to Jessie over the phone, she’s mid-walk with a baby carrier strapped to her chest (from Artipoppe, in case you were wondering), having just managed to get her now 3 month-old off for his morning nap. She tells me more about her motivation behind launching the podcast.
“For me it was something that I would have absolutely loved when I didn’t have as much information. What I wanted to do was not offer up prescriptive advice, but more reassurance and the chance to create a bit of community of people who felt like they could be empowered by other voices.
“We spoke to a lot the same contributors because at the time we were making it, it was lockdown, and I think I was really craving that continuity of care and that slight hand holding and reassurance. There was almost this fear, so it was really beneficial for me to help me feel in control and confident about what was happening in my body.”
Jessie worked closely with two health professionals whilst recording the podcast: consultant obstetrician Jess McMicking and midwife Isabelle Bourton, and found their advice useful when it came to her own pregnancy symptoms.
“Jess completely debunked the advice that you can only sleep on your left side and said you can sleep on both sides! That was amazing for me because – especially when you get restless leg and that hip pain in the night – you just want to move over. That was something that was incredibly helpful.”
She was also keen to learn more about the pregnancy experiences that she was unfamiliar with.
“A powerful conversation I had was with Sarah Carr who talks about her experience in the NICU on her first birth. She spoke about how terrifying it was but also how amazing the care was that she got. I think that was really eye opening for me because I’ve never been in that situation.
“We also talked to an amazing anaesthetist, which I haven’t had much experience of as I’ve had home births. I think it’s really important to highlight that people are entitled to have pain relief. People can do their birth their way and I think we need to quash the stigma around this idea of ‘failure’ when you’ve had a c-section, been induced or had an epidural. To be able to see the benefits of pain relief and to be able to speak to an anaesthetist was really interesting.”
Throughout the podcast you also get to hear from other pregnant women, which Jessie hopes will provide some reassurance to those who are feeling alone.
“There’s one where someone talked about a geographic tongue. She would have reactions to certain foods and her tastebuds would go completely wild. Once we talked about that, I then spoke to a friend who was like ‘omg I have that too!’.
“The itchy boobs, the discharge, the fear of what kind of steak you can have – it’s all so relatable. I think there’s so many ways your body reacts to pregnancy, but if there’s a voice in your ear it feels slightly more real and reassuring than the words on a screen.
“I kind of want to get a bit of a forum together so I think we’ll use our Instagram page to help people feel like they’re not alone.”