All the Baby Essentials | Life with Baby Podcast with Guest, Bryn Huntpalmer


Today’s guest is Bryn Huntpalmer. She founded the Birth Hour podcast, which is one of the top 50 podcasts by Time Magazine and has over 25 million downloads to date. She is passionate about helping expecting parents prepare for childbirth through the sharing of empowering and informative birth stories, as well as her online, evidence-based childbirth course called Know Your Options. We chat all things birth, baby essentials, and what keeps this mama up at night. 

Resources + Show Notes 

Bryn Huntpalmer | 

Ergobaby | 

Know Your Options Course 

Ergobaby Swaddle 

Ergobaby Carriers 

Ergobaby Bouncer 

Find Your Perfect Carrier 

How to Nurse in Your Baby Carrier 


Brandi: When you’re pregnant, you’re bombarded with so many choices. What should I take to the hospital? What kind of birth do I want? What do I need after my baby is born? So how can you feel empowered to make the best choice for you? Our guest today is Bryn Huntpalmer, author, mama to three, and all things birth extraordinaire. This amazing woman spends her time helping expecting parents prepare for childbirth.  

The Birth Hour Podcast 

Her podcast, The Birth Hour, was featured by Time Magazine, and her online childbirth course has been so helpful for parents everywhere. Welcome to the podcast, Bryn. How are you?  

Bryn: I’m good. Thank you so much for having me.  

Brandi: On your podcast, you really support parents in knowing the how tos and the inner workings of parenthood. What made you passionate about ensuring that women knew their options when it comes to birth and pregnancy? 

Bryn: Well, it started with The Birth Hour, right? Like hearing all these stories. And I think a lot of doulas and other birth workers can probably relate to how infuriating it is to hear a story where someone was not given informed consent, not being consulted in their care or just flat out being mistreated. So, hearing so many different stories led me to be like, I want, and people would reach out to me wanting childbirth education advice on things, and I am not licensed for anything like that. I’m just here to share the stories. But I really wanted to find someone who could help me provide that, you know, and that The Birth Hour could get behind. And my partner, Stephanie, did an in-person childbirth course, and I attended that and was just blown away by her education style; everything evidence-based, and so compassionate to whatever you choose and however things are gonna go. And really just the main goal was to let people know their options so they can make the choice that’s right for them.  

And we talked a lot and she is a child birth educator and a lactation consultant and a postpartum and birth doula. So, she’s seen a lot in person as well. And we partnered and she created all of the content for our Know Your Options course. And then I’m kind of the voice behind it to get the word out. And The Birth Hour community is such a great supportive community. So, it’s been really cool to see all those people, especially during COVID. We just created this amazing cohort of women who are some of my best friends now and they’re on their second babies, a lot of them.  

The Power of Birth Story vlogs 

Brandi: I know you hear a lot of different birth stories. Can you share one of your favorite birth experiences?  

Bryn: A really fun one was someone who had given birth like on the side of the road in a parking lot. And they had the 911 call. They were able to reach out to the operator and get the call. So, we were able to air that on the episode. You know, the majority of the episode was her sharing her story, but then we were able to put that little audio in there and hear the actual in the moment. It made me feel like I was like TLC, The Birth Story. But I really love the stories where the first birth maybe didn’t go the way someone had planned. And then their second birth is so redemptive, and it might not have been the exact way they were thinking it was gonna go, but they felt supported and formed, had a positive birth team around them. And they’re like, yeah, this crazy thing happened, but I didn’t feel traumatized by it at all because I was supported and heard and all of that. And those always just give me goosebumps. Cause I’m like, yes, this is what every person deserves, you know? 

Positive First Births 

Brandi: I think too, what’s really cool is like seeing people get their power back. Cause I think sometimes in birth there’s so much that’s happening and going on that it feels like that sense of agency kind of just vanishes. Even if you have a doula, I think sometimes we can feel like it’s just gone. I love hearing stories where it’s like somewhere in there, even if they don’t go on to birth another child after that, there’s somewhere that they can, like some kind of redemptive ray of light, I should say, in there. Even if it is just acceptance, you know, that I wanted this, but this didn’t happen. Even if it is just the grief of it. 

I’ve had very different birth experiences, you know, with my oldest, hospital birth, with my second one, hospital birth, unmedicated, and then with my last, I did a home birth. It was interesting because I could tell the difference between the support that I received as far as lactation goes. With the oldest, it was very little support. 

Having a Home Birth 

Bryn: And I had three home births actually, but with my first, it was a really long labor. My midwife was working on her own. It was on New Year’s Eve. Once the baby was born, like, I mean, she came back and did her visits at the scheduled times, but she wasn’t on call to come help me with nursing. And I remember reaching out to a Le Leche League leader and they were like, yeah, I can be there in a couple of days. And when you’re struggling with nursing, a couple of days… 

Brandi: Yes, seems like an eternity. 

Bryn: I remember just bursting into tears. It’s painful. You don’t know what you’re doing. Even with the home birth, I didn’t feel prepared and wish I had had that support lined up. 

Breastfeeding 101  

Brandi: Well, with that, what would you recommend for parents who find themselves in that situation? Because you’re right, when you’re in it, it feels like a few days, two days feels like two years. You know, I had a lot of anxiety in general. And so, you immediately think, oh my gosh, there was this window that I have to get in. And if I don’t get in this window, then there’s the end of my breastfeeding journey, you know? So, what would you recommend for parents who find themselves in that situation?  

Bryn: The things I can say might not, you know, be able to be absorbed when you’re, you know, in that stressful situation, but take a breath. It’s not all or nothing. I’ve had so many interviews recently on The Birth Hour with moms who were just like, I just decided to combo feed and use formula and it wasn’t the end of the world or like my baby couldn’t latch and we used a nipple shield or I exclusively pumped for two months and then at two months I just randomly tried to latch him and he was great and then we were good. Like I hear that all the time and I feel like, like you said, when I was having my first there was this panic around nipple confusion and like if you don’t nurse every single time, you know, and get it right, you’re not gonna be able to breastfeed and that’s just too much pressure. And for people with anxiety especially. 

Brandi: It’s not just with lactation, but I think with anything when it comes to parenthood. I think community is a big deal. The times that I faced the most intense moments with my newborn, I actually received so much support just being in community. When I was struggling with, you know, breastfeeding my second one, being in community, I found like a local mama’s group. And I mean, this kid, when I say was like butchering my nipples, butchering, like, it’s like, this is a little piranha. 

Being in community, I remember I walked in, and this mama saw the look on my face. It’s like she could see right through me. She could see that I was struggling. And she immediately was like, come on over here. And I came over and I was like, yeah, my baby, yeah, she’s in my boobs, in my nipples, and it’s bleeding. And she was like, let me show you. And she wasn’t an IBCLC or anything. Like she was just another mother. 

You know, she started breastfeeding her baby. I started watching. I breastfed my baby and it worked.  

Bryn: And you remember, you’ll remember that person forever. Like, I have the exact same situation. I met a woman at a Le Leche League meeting. We had only met there once or twice. And then she saw on Facebook, my baby had been born, came over, brought me trail mix in a Tupperware, which is like the best nursing snack, and then a meal and talked to me about nursing. She had large breasts and oversupply just like me. I just remember like clocking that experience and being like, I want to be this person for other new moms because it makes such a big difference. Hopefully you can find that in person, but we also hear on the birth hour all the time, especially with how specific Facebook groups are now. Find your exact issue and you can find a community around it and people who have been through it before. And that’s something that’s so amazing that our mothers didn’t have.  


AD: Brandi: Listen, mama, I’ve raised three boys. So I’ve spent a lot of years of my life nursing. And I understand that when you’re out and about and living your life, you need convenience. You’ve got your baby in a carrier and they’re cozy and you’re cozy. And guess what? You can nurse them right there. With simple adjustments to your carrier position, you can safely and privately nurse your baby and keep going about your day. Head to the show notes to learn more about how to nurse in your carrier. 


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Best Birthing Decision For YOU 

Brandi: There are a lot of options when it comes to labor and delivery. How can a birthing person make the best decision for them amidst all the uncertainty of what’s to come?  

Bryn: So, the thing that we really hammer home a lot is the two most important decisions that you’ll make are who your care provider is and where you’re going to give birth. 

Don’t ignore the red flags. If your intuition is telling you this doesn’t feel right, switch. And you can switch up until the very end. You can even just refuse to go into an induction and then show up at the ER when you’re in labor. You have choices, and if it doesn’t feel right, listen to that intuition. Hopefully you make those decisions early on so you’re not stressed at the end of your pregnancy. But if a doctor is telling you that they give everyone episiotomies or that they are tolerant of a V -back, but you can tell they’re not supportive of a VBAC, those kinds of things. Just pay attention to what you want. And if that’s not their usual, they’re not going to make an exception for you, most likely. So find the person who is doing what you want as their usual practice.  

And then same with hospitals, because you might have a care provider you really align with, but there’s hospital policies that you are absolutely against, right? And so you wanna know those ahead of time. So do your research there. A great place to do that is obviously to interview your care provider, but also Facebook groups. If you’re gonna have a doula, go to like a Meet the Doula event and ask doulas which care providers they enjoy working with the most or tell them who you’re seeing and watch their face. Because they might not feel comfortable just being like telling you terrible things about some doctor, but you can probably read it in their eyes a little bit if that’s someone that they would recommend based on the type of birth you wanted. And then, you know, if you know for sure you don’t want an epidural, like consider an out of hospital birth because a lot of the things that you might want might be better suited to a community birth. So those are our two big things we hammer home.  

Red Flags To Look Out For 

Brandi: Can you share some red flags that when people are interviewing care practitioners that they should look out for?  

Bryn: Yeah, big one is do you feel like you’re a part of the conversation or do you feel like they’re talking at you? I think listening to your gut is probably the number one thing also. It can be tough because doctors are on a tight schedule. You might feel like you’re being rushed in and out, whether that’s their intention or not, but they should be able to take the time to answer questions that you have. And I know a lot of people are interviewing potential doctors and you’re paying for that appointment or your insurance is. You’re hiring them. They can take the time to answer your questions. 

Another one is ‘set rules’ because every body is different, every baby is different. So if your care provider has a set rule around induction, you know, if you get to 40 weeks, we’re going to induce or something like that. We know most people don’t give labor, you know, on their due date. Most first-time moms give birth around 41 weeks. So that’s a red flag. Things like everybody gets a cut. That’s actually a line we have heard as far as episiotomies. 

And that’s not evidence -based. So do your research. Evidence -based birth is an amazing resource for questions to ask. And you can bring in the evidence. And you don’t want to start off confrontational or anything like that, but really just paying attention to how you feel in their presence. Because we also know oxytocin is a big part of birth. And you want to feel safe and supported and not on edge around your care provider.  

Brandi: That’s huge.  

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Hospital Essentials 

Brandi: So Bryn, what are some essential things to bring to the hospital or birth center?  

Bryn: It really kind of depends on the type of person you are. If you’re the kind of person that wants to have every possible coping tool, you want to bring a birth ball, a peanut ball, twinkle lights, set the mood, all those things. But as far as essentials, we always recommend having your birth preferences, not necessarily a birth plan because birth doesn’t always go according to plan as we know, but some of those key preferences that you really want honored is great to have on hand, printed out. Show your, you know, at least your birth partner, your birth team, and then you can also share it with nurses and staff and things like that.  

And then just really things to make yourself comfortable. You know, you want to have a nursing pillow for after baby is born. You might want your own hospital gown. You really just want to pack like you’re going to a hotel and every single thing you might want to be comfortable. And then that’s one category.  

And then there’s the category of coping tools and things that might help you through labor. And that’s so personalized based on, you know, the kind of birth that you’re going to be having. I think snacks are a really big one.  

Brandi: Oh my gosh. Yes. It’s only so many times you can eat the hospital jello.  

Bryn: And they might tell you not to eat snacks and many doulas will tell you to sneak in a snack when you can if you have an appetite. Water, you know, they’ll give you that cup with the straw. I recommend taking that home with you and having a couple more on hand. There’s not a whole lot you need for a baby. Baby is gonna have most of the things that they need there. So I would focus on keeping yourself comfortable, you and your partner. You’re gonna want a sweater. It’s cold in a lot of hospitals.  

Brandi: Yeah, socks, all the socks. There’s usually goodies there at the hospital. You know, the diapers and the things like that, you know, that a lot of parents, I don’t think know that they want to give you. Do you feel that parents should probably leave room for the goodies that you kind of swipe from the hospital?  

Bryn: Yeah, and once it’s in your room, it’s probably already on your bill anyways.  

Brandi: It’s already on your bill. It’s mine now.  

Bryn: The extra mesh, the mesh boy short panties. People are big fans of those. Oh a lot of hospitals will have these ice pack pads where you kind of break it and then it’s a cooling pack. That can be really comforting. Save room in your bag, take everything you see in your room with you because the odds are it’s not gonna get used somewhere else because of regulations and things like that.  

Brandi: I even say, you know, for people to kind of get in cahoots with the staff lactation consultant because, you know, whether it’s you need nipple shield, they have all those little doodads and goodies that if you need that extra support, just ask them because they’ll just like load you up with stuff. 

Bryn: Yeah, and that’s also so hospital dependent, unfortunately, because some have lactation consultants on staff, some don’t, some are not, you know, so great. Others are amazing. So that’s one thing we do always say to plan before birth is to have a lactation consultant on speed dial in your phone, ready to call. Virtual consults for that are actually amazing. I was skeptical, but COVID taught us we can do pretty much anything on Zoom.  

Baby Registry: What Do You Actually Need? 

Brandi: What do I actually need on my baby registry? 

Bryn: Really a lot of the things I recommend for those early days are for the mom. You know, like I think a bouncer is really helpful, like as far as gear, just to have a place to put baby so you can poop or take a shower or something. I think a nursing pillow is really helpful, whether you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding, having like all that support because your neck and your back and everything is going to start hurting if you’re not using the right posture and all of that.  

I do think a baby carrier is a must have product that has become so much more mainstream, which I love because my oldest is about to be 12 and I had the original Ergobaby with her and I loved it, but I was definitely the only one in the grocery store wearing my baby at that time, you know, and now they’re everywhere and there’s so many options. I didn’t have the stretchy cozy one until my third baby and I loved it. I think that’s probably the biggest, when I think of a product for baby care. And a swaddle. 

Brandi: Yeah, swaddles for me, for a good amount of my kids. The second and the third swaddles were my go -to. That was the only way they would nap. Especially my middle child. Yeah, it was like, swaddle him up tight. There we go. Okay, good. Best, best thing ever. 

Bryn: And it’s just, baby gear is so fun. There’s so many new things coming out every year and all of that. As far as essentials, I always say like, babies really aren’t that expensive until you’re paying for daycare. But as far as like stuff, they’re a lot cheaper than my older kids.  

Brandi: By far. Yeah. I mean, it’s not a lot. Even with clothing, it’s funny because people automatically stock up on clothes. It depends on even when your baby’s born. Like I had one summer baby and then two fall babies. And depending on where you live, if it’s hot, if you’re going through a heat wave, like I was at that time, I don’t think any of us were clothed for quite a while. We were just skin to skin for like weeks, months, maybe.  

Bryn: And even if you don’t put any baby clothes on your registry, people are gonna buy you a lot of baby clothes. So I always say like, don’t buy any. Like also people are desperate to give away their baby hand -me -downs. 

Brandi: My gosh, that right there, I think people underestimate that. Talking about community, like, I know for all of them, I don’t think we had to shop until maybe their first year because friends, family, hey, got a box of clothes.  

Bryn: Same with baby gear, those “Buy Nothing” groups on Facebook are so helpful. And I think that baby gear is like the number one thing that people are posting in those groups. So the minute baby is no longer interested, you just want to give it to someone who can use it.  

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What Keeps You Up At Night As A Mom? 

Brandi: Is there anything that keeps you up at night as a mama?  

Bryn: Gosh. I think that it gets harder and harder the older my kids get. And so, working with all these new parents, I’m always having to put myself back in the mindset of how hard it was worrying about baby’s poops and sleep and all these things. And now that my youngest is five and my oldest is pre -teen, I think the anxiety has honestly just gotten worse. And so I worry about them, you know, being happy out in the world and feeling accepted and making new friends and not feeling anxiety themselves. There’s just so many layers to being a mom that it’s so important to stay grounded and know that everyone’s going through something and every stage brings its own challenges and you’ll get through it and then there’ll be a new challenge. I try to remind myself of that and give myself compassion for how hard it is right now. We got through sleepless nights, we’ll get through this too. And then I look at my adult relationship with my mom, like it all came around, it was okay. But yeah, I think just knowing that we’re all up at night over something and reaching out for support when needed has been huge for me.  

Brandi: I will say this, they come around. I mean, my oldest is 17. Yeah. 12 is rough. It’s a rough age. 12 and 13 are very rough. I’m just telling you now, it’s intense.  

Bryn: Yeah, I feel it.  

Stressed New Parent Advice 

Brandi: But around 15, 14, they start to come around. As weird as people think teenagers are, they are. They are very weird. They come back and they’re so sweet. Yeah. So there are probably parents that are listening to this episode as we speak and they’re pacing the floor at night, maybe they have a colicky baby right now and they’re probably stressing about all the things we just talked about. What would you tell them if you were speaking to them right now in this moment?  

Bryn: Yeah, I would say don’t isolate yourself. Reach out for help whether that’s community, whether that’s a therapist, medication, you know, sleep is such a huge part of our mental health. And when you’re postpartum, you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re going through one of the biggest hormonal swings of your entire life. And that cannot be understated. There’s no shame or failure in getting on medication if that’s what you need to do or reaching out and seeing a therapist. Do what you need to do and don’t put it off. 

Tell someone how you’re feeling. Someone you know will help you find those resources because it’s so hard to find on your own when you’re in that moment. Find your community, find your people. When someone comes over, just hand them the baby if you need to and go take a shower or point to your laundry and say, please just do the laundry. And I think we hear that all the time and it’s so hard to actually put it into action, but it’ll make such a big difference because sleep is really the number one thing and no one’s getting enough when they have a new baby.  

Brandi: Sleep deprivation is pretty rough. It’s pretty rough.  

Bryn: You look back and you’re like, how did I survive that? It doesn’t make any sense. And you’re also like feeding a baby and taking care of, you know, older kids. It’s just, it’s insane, honestly. And anyone who’s in it is amazing. So just keep going. You know, it’s so hard.  

Brandi: Just keep going. Well, thank you so much, Brynn, for joining us.  

Bryn: Yeah! 

Brandi: I know this is going to help so many people.  


Such an amazing episode. So many takeaways. My first one I felt resonated the most was birth preferences versus birth plan. 

As a doula myself, I hear a lot about birth plans. And while I think it’s super duper important to have, reframing that language from plan to preference is super helpful. One, it doesn’t box us into this idea that everything must go according to plan, because we all know when it comes to birth, it’s its own animal and it goes according to its own plan. Moving away from that idea of plan, it helps us to not feel so locked into sticking with it and be open to whatever shifts may happen. Also, I think it reformats our brains into thinking preference. This is what I prefer. I prefer this as opposed to this is what we have to do. 

I loved how she made the focus around the parent and not necessarily the baby because at the hospital wherever you birth, a lot of times they already have all the things you could ever think that you needed for baby. But what happens for you? What do you need in that space? What is it that makes you feel safe in a space?  

Another thing I took away was the red flags, and I’m glad she answered that question because when we’re interviewing doctors, midwives or doulas, the biggest asset we have is listening to our gut. When you interview the people that are going to be in the room as you birth, it’s important to listen to your gut and to listen to those red flags. Finding a doctor that doesn’t talk at you, but more so with you. Finding someone who’s on the same team as you and hears you and sees you is super important.  

I love how she mentioned mom staying grounded, parents staying grounded, and just giving ourselves exactly what we need in that moment. We’re all up at night for something. We’re all trying to figure it out. It doesn’t get easier necessarily. It just evolves. Being kind to each other, being mindful that all of us are up at night. All of us are figuring it out. All of us are thinking about our babies and our toddlers and our tweens. We’re all trying to figure out this parent life. And so it’s important to, one, reach out for help because we all need it. It’s also important to be kind because we also all need it.  

I hope this episode has made your life with baby so much easier.  

Ergobaby is dedicated to building a global community of confident parents. The Life with Baby podcast is just one of many ways we hope to support parents through all the joys and jobs of parenting. This podcast was produced by Tiffany Toby, edited by Angel Hunter, shorts edited by Hannah Speckart, written by Vittoria Allen, sound design and theme song by John Jackson, graphics designed by Noah Friedenberg, and our Executive Producers are Christina Soletti and Kalani Robinson. I’m your host, Brandi Sellerz -Jackson. 

Vittoria Allen

Vittoria is a writer based in San Diego. A lover of good food, slow living, and a good novel, she shares her life with her husband and two daughters trying to squeeze out the beauty in every moment.

March 11, 2024