Women in Podcasting: Interview with Rachel Dewell

Preveting HG Podcast logo Podcaster NewsRachel Dewell is the host of the Preventing HG podcast. Her podcast is a great resource for pregnant women who have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a serious illness that is much more debilitating than the typical “morning sickness”. The Preventing HG Podcast is also a good resource for women who want to learn about the illness and for people whose loved ones are currently coping with it.

When did you first start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting from then until today?

I first started podcasting on May 15, 2014. It was called the HyperG Pregnancy Podcast. I published 12 weekly episodes and then took a break late summer to re-brand and re-focus on what I really wanted to do with the podcast. It seemed like the more I got into podcasting, the further I strayed away from what I really set out to do. I restarted the podcast again in September and it’s been much more relaxed over all. It’s now the Preventing HG podcast, because I’m concentrating on bringing alternative treatment options for HG prevention, or at least to lessen the severity of the illness. I also see a great need to help women recover after the birth from the damage HG has done on the body. I’m really excited about what’s coming up.

Podcasting has been more fun than I expected, but more work too. I’m kind of shy and introverted; I don’t like to be the center of attention. Yet, a one-on-one conversation is just the sort of thing that fascinates me. I’ve always been curious about people. I love finding out more about their story and life, and what they think. I love it so much that I have been thinking about starting 4 other podcasts. Maybe, some day …

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

My husband started a long commute for a new job back in 2008. I had just had my fourth baby, and was recovering from my worst pregnancy. He started to listen to podcasts to pass his time driving. Every day he was telling me, “You’ve got to listen to this!” I finally checked it out and it was all downhill from there. For awhile there I treated it like my full time job to listen to podcasts. I loved them so much. And I learned so much. Then, in my research about Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I came across a Facebook group about preventing HG. That’s when my two passions came together. I saw how podcasting could reach people in a different way than a blogpost or a Facebook group could. There is something so personal about hearing someone’s voice. I wanted to get something as misunderstood as HG, out to a wider audience.

Can you explain more about what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is? How do you cover this topic in your podcast?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a debilitating illness during pregnancy that is characterized by extreme levels of nausea and vomiting that at best, causes dehydration, malnutrition, and a state of starvation. At worst it can cause death to the baby, or even the mother. Those of us who have gone through it have a hard time explaining how relentless the nausea feels and how impossible it is to eat and drink, knowing that we will vomit anyway. Many of us are made to feel like we’re not trying hard enough to control it or that we must not want our babies. The discouragement is overwhelming. On top of that, it messes with your mind and you start to think that you will never again be able to eat normally, or enjoy a simple pleasure like drinking a cup of tea.

I describe my own experience as feeling like I was in a dark muddy pit. I would try to climb out and then it would rain and I would slide back down. I felt isolated and lonely and misunderstood. Thankfully, my illness does not last the full 9 months, but for many women it does. Just finding people who really understand what it’s like to go through that has been a lifesaver. And I want to help other women avoid that desperation.

When I started, I was just interviewing women about their experience with HG. While I enjoyed it, I felt like I wasn’t providing as much value as I could, so I’ve shifted to bringing the alternative health world to HG. That’s really where my passions have all culminated.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

Do it! What’s the worst thing that can happen? That’s exactly what my mentor, Meron Bareket told me, over and over again. I dislike the advice that everything has to be perfect, or that you even have to be good to get started. You’ll get better as you go. How will you know what you’re good at until you try it? Just starting is a valuable education too. I have no regrets about any of it.

My second piece of advice is to find a mentor, or a podcasting group, or a mastermind, or tiny little cheerleaders to sit on your shoulders. Or all four! I would not be where I am without Meron and his group. End of story. It helps so much to be able to tell someone you just submitted to iTunes and are now officially freaking out. They will understand. And tell you that you’re awesome anyway.