21 Best Podcasts To Listen To During Maternity Leave, Because The Days Are Long
For the 12 or so weeks that you’re on maternity leave, you may feel like you have a ton of time to fill, but also that there’s somehow no time to get anything done. Laundry overflows, the dishwasher is full, and showers are probably a distant, wistful memory. That’s okay — it’s hard, to do anything substantial when you’re getting interrupted constantly by a nocturnal creature (a.k.a your newborn). Listening to podcasts on maternity leave, however, is an easy way to fill those slow, bizarre days that start to blend into one.
It’s hard to watch shows because you have to pause each episode approximately 500 times (and, if your partner is anything like mine, the second you start an episode they suddenly need to know every real housewife's full backstory). Reading books is great, except you may find yourself rereading the same pages over and over, trying to make the content stick in a brain that’s already filled to the brim. The right podcast, on the other hand, feels like hanging out with your oldest friend, albeit a friend who doesn’t mind being paused continuously and asked to repeat themselves. I’ve rounded up the 16 best podcasts to listen to on maternity leave; some will make you laugh out loud, some will make you feel less alone, and some are just really great stories. So grab your headphones, figure out how to unfold that stroller (seriously why is it so hard?) and dive in.
1. The Shrink Next Door
Perfect for fans of crime podcasts who want to avoid gore, The Shrink Next Door is made by Bloomberg and Wondery, the company that made the Dirty John and Dr. Death podcasts. It's told by journalist Joe Nocera, whose Hamptons neighbor wasn't quite who Nocera thought he was. It's a wild story of manipulation, power, control, and deceit that unfolds over 29 years. You'll be gripped from episode one.
2. Parental Leave
In the first few weeks of parental leave, you're sure to find yourself with tons of questions that this podcast will help you answer. Parental Leave is hosted by Adrienne and Christian and each episode navigates one of the 12 weeks they were on leave together after the 2017 birth of their first baby. Relatably, the first episode is titled, "What Do We Do With This Thing?"
3. 10 Things That Scare Me
I love this podcast because each episode clocks in around six minutes, making it perfect to listen to while you complete some mundane but necessary task, like emptying the dishwasher. Each episode of 10 Things That Scare Me features one (semi-famous) person talking about ten things that, as you may have guessed, scare them. They range from the funny (the fear that Carrie Fisher’s death will derail the plot of Star Wars, for example) to the serious (eye papercuts, yikes). The podcast makes you realize everyone has their oddities, and it may just make you feel less alone, (though I'd skip this one if you're feeling especially impressionable or already a little fearful).
4. Modern Love
Each episode of The Modern Love podcast features a celebrity reading from the New York Times column by the same name. If you like love stories, and you like being read to, this, this is a must. I listen to this one if I'm having trouble sleeping; plus there's now a corresponding Amazon show also by the same name that you can watch when you find the time.
5. Fat Mascara
Fat Mascara is a beauty podcast co-hosted by two close friends, Jessica Matlin and Jennifer Goldstein. Their easy banter and hilarious, honest opinions make it feel like hanging with two of your own friends. Plus you'll learn a lot about the beauty industry and emerging trends, if that's your thing.
This hilarious podcast hosted by comedian, Mike Kelton, dives into "magic, psychics, mediums, astrology" as you learn in the catchy opening theme song. The first season of Beyond covers everything from a haunting at Cure Thrift Shop in New York, to what it means to have a "Saturn returns" all in an outrageously funny (yet also somehow deeply moving) way. The second season just started so you can burn through both on your maternity leave.
7. Decoder Ring
If you feel like upping your knowledge of random things or "cracking cultural mysteries" as host, Willa Paskin, says in the intro, then the Decoder Ring is for you. Each episode delves into something you know of, but you probably don't know too much about. For example, you'll learn about the (actually fascinating) world of ice cream trucks, and why, almost 15 years later, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt ending their marriage is still a hot tabloid topic.
8. Mom & Mind
If you think you may be living with postpartum depression or anxiety, this podcast can be an excellent resource (though it's always best to check in with your doctor first). Mom & Mind is led by Dr. Kat, a psychologist and specialist in perinatal mental health. She interviews real parents, experts, and advocates and puts on "stigma crushing boots [to] address the realities of the transition to motherhood and parenthood," according to the description in the app store.
9. Armchair Expert
Dax Shepard interviews a celebrity on Armchair Expert each week, and the conversations are refreshingly candid and really fun to listen to. There are so many great episodes to choose from, but in my humble opinion, the best one to start with is the episode where he interviews his wife, Kristen Bell. Not-So-Spoiler-Alert: The pair is in a fight at the beginning of the conversation because she didn't have time before taping to go to Michaels craft store to buy garland. Relatable, much?
Adulting, hosted by comedians Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos, will make you feel seen if you've ever questioned how you're doing at this whole adult thing (something we all wonder, I think). Being a new parent can feel especially like you're playing some high stakes game of house, and the pair answers relatable, silly (but important) questions, like how to get alone time when your child refuses to sleep.
11. The Habitat
The Habitat is a wild one, let me just say. It's the real story of six people who were chosen to live on a remote mountain in Hawaii in conditions meant to imitate life on Mars. Listening to this feels like watching a reality show, kind of like Road Rules, where a forced, less-than-ideal living situation makes for some spicy relationships and memorable drama.
12. The New Normal
If you're wondering how you're ever going to manage work and motherhood, The New Normal will probably make you feel a lot more at ease. It's hosted by friends Emma Clark Gratton and Tess McCabe, who met online when they were both new mothers. Each episode features the duo chatting with another parent about work, creative pursuits, partnerships, and more.
Mortified is a series of live events where adults read aloud from the diaries, journals, letters, or lyrics they wrote as adolescents. The Mortified podcast brings those readings to you, wherever you are (probably at home with a sleeping baby). And yes, it's just as cringe-worthy, nostalgic, and delightful as it sounds.
14. In The Dark
Fans of Serial will love In The Dark, where investigative journalist, Madeleine Baran, goes deep into a different case in each of the two seasons. Let me warn you, season one is a bit intense as it deals with a kidnapping, but season two deals with the complex issue of "innocent until proven guilty" and is a story you'll get hooked on.
15. The Mindful Minute
Sometimes, especially in those slow, early days that blend together, you'll want a break from the chatter in your head. A meditation podcast can help you take just a few minutes to quiet down and focus on yourself. The Mindful Minute is hosted by a meditating mama, Meryl Arnett, who understands how exhausting and challenging parenting sometimes is.
16. Motherhood Sessions
Reproductive psychiatrist, Alexandra Sacks, sits down with a different mother for each episode of this raw and engaging podcast. Motherhood Sessions tackles tough, intimate topics — how to handle loneliness, co-parenting with a tough ex, parenting through trauma. It can feel voyeuristic to listen in on someone's therapy session, but it's also cathartic, relatable, and helpful for dealing with your own difficulties.
17. Anna Faris Is Unqualified
Actor, Anna Faris, interviews celebrities, offers personal tidbits about her life, and takes calls from listeners needing advice. Though the name of the podcast suggests she is unqualified, she actually gives totally sound and helpful suggestions. It's also fun to get a glimpse into how celebs interact with each other, and I especially enjoyed the episode with Faris and Busy Phillips.
18. The Mom Hour
If you need a reminder that motherhood is silly and fun in addition to being trying, look no further than The Mom Hour podcast. It covers all kinds of topics (what to do if you have a mom meltdown is one of my favorite early episodes). It's hosted by two mothers (with eight kids between the two of them) and the show's goal is to make happier parents. It's a delight to listen to regardless of where you are in your parenting journey.
19. The Missing Cryptoqueen
If you're a fan of the Fyre Fest or Theranos scam (I mean, who isn't?) then you'll love The Missing Cryptoqueen. It tells the story of Dr. Ruja Ignatova who invented a new cryptocurrency that turned out to be a ponzi scheme scam. A warrant was put out for her arrest, but she disappeared, and the podcast goes on a quest to find her.
There's a lot going on in the news and it can seem daunting to keep up with everything. If you have just eight minutes each day, you can get a quick run-through of the previous day's major events thanks to Cheddar's Need2Know podcast. This way, you'll know a little bit about a lot of things, and if something piques your interest you can do your own research later on.
21. Switched On Pop
Everyone, not just pop music lovers, can enjoy the Switched On Pop podcast, which delves into the making of modern music. It's hosted by musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding and offers fascinating insight into how and why pop music got to be so well, popular. Plus, you can consider it research for when your baby is a bit older, because one awesome episode goes deep into how "Baby Shark," the most repetitive song I've heard in recent memory, managed to become such a cultural phenomenon.