Podcast Episode #77

Tips For Preparing Your Hospital Bag For Childbirth: Sally Branson from The Suite Set

Packing a hospital bag and getting ready for childbirth may be an exciting, as well as daunting time for parents.  There is so much to consider, and trying to remember everything can sometimes feel like a huge task.

In this episode with Sally Branson from The Suite Set, Sally discusses preparing your hospital bag in advance as well as:

Good tips for preparing your hospital bag

How to avoid the overwhelm and not getting too stressed / anxious

How your partner can be an active participant.

What kind of bag is best for hospital bag?

What do we need to consider when packing a hospital bag?

What not to do when packing a bag.

What week should you pack your hospital bag?

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Tips For Preparing Your Hospital Bag For Childbirth



Please note that this transcription was completed with computer voice recognition software. Quite often unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the computer software. Please disregard these errors. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.


If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. A physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three base in Melbourne, Australia. Join me as we dive into all things pelvic floor and core as well as talking to different industry experts, helping you to have a healthy pregnancy, confident childbirth and strong postnatal recovery. Hit subscribe, you’re listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast. To attend my free pregnancy mini pelvic floor and core masterclass, head to fitnestmama.com/free.


Hello, Sally. Thank you for joining me today on the FitNest Mama Podcast.


Thank you for having me, finally. It took a lot of organizing and that was all my fault. So we’re back together again. And I can’t wait for our chat today.

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So we are chatting all things, hospital bags, what to pack? How do we take the stress out of hospital bags? How do we involve our partner in packing a hospital bag? So it’s a fun chat. Before we get started, do you want to just let us know a little bit about who you are? Why are we talking to you about hospital bags and all that just?


Well, I’m the hospital bag packing expert. I definitely wasn’t before I had children, I was far from the hospital bag packing expert before I had children. I think the technical term is hot mess. That’s what I was. So I realized that there had to be a better way. And so we developed, my husband Jonathan and I developed this sweet set. And the sweet set is a series of hospital packing bags. They’re made from BPA plastic. They’re made fit for purpose. So they’re made for the exact size they need to be. They’re made from hospital grade plastic, which makes a difference, but they’re made so they don’t smell because some plastics are really smelly.

The other thing that we have with these and we make sit for multiple births for single births. And this year, we’re launching a pack for when babies coming home from hospitals, so a pack for their parents so that they know what that they need to be best supported to pack to be best for it. So really, the sweet is the ultimate hospital bag packing organizer. And it does also come with a two-page instruction list. Now the key we often get asked for people are Can we just can you just send us the instruction list and we’ll use it blocks. The key to our bags is that they’re made fit for purpose. But the real product that you’re buying apart from the gorgeous, beautiful looking see-through bags is the list. So it’s been made from over two years of formal research. So formal market focus groups, and also consultation with obstetricians with midwives with doulas with rural GPS with because hospital settings can change depends where you’re living with obstetricians with GPC specialize in birth. So a lot of research has gone into the packing list. So you get the bag and the packing list. And you just take it off, you pack your own things in it, we do we do sell some extra products and some biggest packs with some essential baby clothes in it. But it’s around getting the list getting the bags and you are so beautifully prepared for going into hospital.

Now, I’ve just done a podcast for you. Because I’ve just answered all the questions. How can you take the overwhelm away from packing? Get a Suite Set? How do you get your house clean? Get a Suite Set? What do you take to hospital? Get a Suite set. So I just saw the 87, they’ve just asked how much sweets it is. Well, a sweet tip is $55 for the pack, and then our add ons, it goes up from there. So twin birth is 65. But we do sometimes have some discount codes, which I’m sure Kath we’ll talk about later.


Yep, stay tuned for this episode. And so for those who are listening to this podcast, in real time, we’re also in Instagram Live. So there’s questions coming through as we are talking. So we know the sweet set is the answer to all our problems. But I’m going to dive into a little bit more there. So you developed a Suite Set because you were this whole situation and packing a bag was a lot for you, right?


Yeah. Yeah.


What skills have you developed? Like, what can you suggest for women who are finding this a bit of a stressful situation? Like there’s a lot out there? What other tips apart from the Suite Set, what other tips do you have for women when packing a hospital bag?


Yes, that is an awesome question. Because for me, I was a later mum and I’ve always worked in research and media and communications and I’m used to researching but I was so overwhelmed by the research on the internet. And I soon realized that all of the lists and all of the advices really tied to product and to marketing tools and so it wasn’t based on real research. It wasn’t based on real fact. And so that is really where it came from wanting to be organized our biggest our ethos in our family and our ethos as a brand is doing things with ease. And that’s what we wanted to start talking about. But packing your hospital bed is actually least of your worries, there is so much to think about. And we hate the thought of new parents. And actually, one of our clients has just had a seventh baby, we’ve had someone just choose a Suite Set for the fourth baby. We’ve got a lot of second and third, my friend who’s just had a second, her seventh baby said to me, by the third baby, I do not have the mental capacity to even think about what to pack. So this is perfect. I really think that there’s so much overwhelm. And I think it’s really important not to get caught up in that and not to get caught up with the concept that you have to be perfect and have all the answers straightaway. And, and I think that’s something that’s really important to think about is that you really need to take a deep breath and just get this job done.

I recommend packing at about a 32-week mark. So then you’ve got some time in front of you if you need to change your mind. Or if you see a new pair of pajamas, really want to pack you can check it in. But being organized and controlling the controllables then takes away a lot of other stress. And we’re really big believers of controlling the controllables. So if you’ve got the best information, and we talk about this on our blog, around and in stressful times as parents and new parents or pregnancy, that control the controllables and then the things that come into your life. And Kath, you know this, you’re a seasoned and experienced mum, that because you’ve got a good solid foundation, you don’t get so blown away by those things that come from left field.


You know, this is totally different topic. But when you talk about control the controllables, I say this all the time when it comes to dominant muscle separation. So women that have built a muscle separation, like there’s a lot that we can’t do about it. And this is a way your tummy separates during pregnancy. Your tummy doesn’t separate. It’s such a bad term The diastasis it set linear alba stretches and I say control the controllables we can’t control your hormones, we can’t control your genetics, we can’t control how big your baby’s growing. So I love that. Control the controllables in every aspect of mother life. Getting back to the hospital bags, how can we best involve our partners?


This is one of them. So in our family, as I said all things with ease, anti-overwhelm. The other thing is, is teamwork makes the dream work. Now, never more so than packing the hospital bag. Because one of the reasons you know when I had my first child, it was one of the most delight luck. We had the best day of our lives not just because I had an epidural. But we had fun. It was very loving. So we had a really beautiful day. And we’re in this love bug bubble. And then like second night, I think it was 2am when I meet the new Brian, I was leaking and I was bleeding and all of these things. And I said to my husband, can you find this and he couldn’t find what I needed in the bag. And I was getting tense and stressed and all of those things. He didn’t even know what I packed in a bag because he hadn’t been a part of it. So one of the first pieces of advice that I do give to our Suite Set community is controlling the controllables by making sure your partner is involved. So when you get your packing list when you work out what you want to pack, make sure that your partners with you and make sure your partner knows what a onesie is what a singlet is, you know how many nappies you’ve had where what’s the difference between a wipe, you know, a hand wipe and a baby wipe. What sort of bra you need after the baby’s born or what sort of knickers you want. So that right along that process, they’ve got no excuse not to say I didn’t know where it was. And that is one of the reasons we’ve had some people ask why this Suite Set isn’t as environmentally friendly as it could be by being fabric. It is it’s the most environmentally friendly plastic we can have made. But it’s not fabric. And that is because I did prototypes in fabric. And when it comes to having a small hospital bag in a small hospital space like a birth suite. You can’t afford to be opening lots of fabric bags because you can’t see what’s in it. So make sure if you pack make sure your partner knows what things look like so when you ask them so my advice is the partner has to be involved in packing from the get go because then you know, we can’t expect people to do things that they’ve got no idea about, and then get cross in the bag.


I do totally remember when I was in labour. I had an epidural for my third baby, and I was stuck to the bed. And I asked my husband to get something from the hospital bag. And it was so embarrassing. He literally took out everything from the hospital bag. And before he finally located what we’re after, and it was such a mess, and I was like, oh my god.


Oh my god, well, I have a girlfriend. And this is actually the genesis of the idea. I think I had one girlfriend who said to her husband, she hadn’t packed enough and he had to go home and get something. This was before the Suite Set and I always think about this. She said to her husband, can you go and buy me a button up top, because you know, she needs to get the boobs out. And all that good. Someone’s just suggested making a google kit list so that they share, which is very good and very organized. But my friend, I went to see her in the hospital, she had a brand new baby like three years old, and she was wearing a high neck, Frilly Zimmerman like going out, dress her best dress, because the husband went home and found a button up top. But it was like 75 rule eight buttons there and there was no way and she’s like, it’s the only thing I’ve got to wear. I’ve sent him home again to get like a proper button up top. So yeah, you know, it’s about sharing the information.


So on that note, when you have clothes for mum, and items for your baby, do you suggest how many bags do you suggest we pack?


That is a really good question. Now, usually, I’ve got one sitting around here, I would hold it up for the Instagram people. But podcast is not a visual medium. So I’ll explain. So I like to pack a medium size hard-shell bag. And you know one of those super trolleys. And this isn’t just for, you know, birth suites are small places, even in private hospitals. If you’re in a public hospital, and you’re sharing a space with three or four other women who’ve all got staff, honestly, you don’t want massive suitcases everywhere, there’s nowhere to put them the storage is really minimal in these rooms. So I always suggest a hard, a small, medium size hard-shell cover. We’ve got some pictures of them on our Instagram and on our web page. And so I would suggest that and then I suggest like a duffel bag or a soft carry bag in that duffel bag size. There’s a few Australian brands that do really good ones like that. So that’s what I would suggest.

Now it’s not just because of the size of the hospital rooms, it’s actually because when you’re leaving a hospital, you might have a capsule, you might have your handbag and then have a handbag as well do you know just that you need to have you might have your handbag, you might have a capsule. You know, carrying a baby out Hospital is a stressful situation without having to worry about lugging like a 75 kilo suitcase. If you’ve got one on wheels, you can put your duffel bag over the handle and one of you or you or whoever supporting you can trolly that out and you can safely hold a capsule or hold the baby.


Yeah, great tips. And what about if you think that, what about there’s a scenario that one mum who’s in hospital overnight, versus a man who’s a public versus private? Versus a mum who’s in hospital for multiple days? Would you still suggest that medium size bag? Is that still how much you need?


No, I would just say one medium. So one medium roll on. So in our instructions, we cater for one night, three nights and five nights’ days. And for the for the smaller ones, I’ll just say one of those little medium roll on almost like an almost like Calvin luggage that size. Because and I think I don’t know about you Kath, but I couldn’t fit much more in my hospital room.


Yeah, and I think that’s so variable as well, depending on where you are giving birth. Yeah, but either way, you don’t want stuff thrown out, left, right and centre.


And I don’t care what anyone says like, I’m not an organized person, I’m not going to turn the camera around so anyone can see my study and the piles of washing here. But when things are messy, I feel out of control and I feel frustrated and tense and amplified being in a birth suite or a hospital room that is amplified. And I’ve heard lots of stories about beautiful midwives having to go through, you know, some people don’t realize that when you go into a birth suite to give birth, you’ve got to give that first of all outfit because the midwife stressed the baby because you’re you know, busy getting checked or waiting for skin to skin. But when it’s time for the baby to be dressed the midwives dress them in a safe space where there, you know, on that lovely little bench thing. And so, I’ve had so many instances and I’ve had a lot of feedback from midwives saying, oh thank God we’ve got a bag that’s just called birth suite and we put that baby’s first outfit and my little wrap and I’m like, oh my god, the amount of times I’ve had to go through other people knickers. Now midwives don’t care about other people’s knickers because they’ve seen everything. But it’s just you know, this stuff goes everywhere and you want to keep things contained. So you’re not frustrated and you’re not tense, like the way my laundry pile makes me feel.


Oh my god. I think we’ve all got those laundry piles. I call them possum piles, you have little piles around the house like paperwork, I’ve put in one little pile and then in each room, there’s a pile of stuff that I just need to get to.


Me too, I know.


So, Sally, to wrap this up, we’ve talked about how to involve partners, we’ve talked about how to reduce stress and overwhelm. We’ve discussed the different sizes of bags; is there anything you suggest not to do?


Oh, my goodness, there’s, there’s actually quite a few things that you suggest not to do. I think particularly if you’re in a public hospital, and you’re sharing space with other people, it’s really important to be cognizant of the other people I know, this is your birth moment. I know this is such a special time. But don’t bring in aromatherapy. Don’t wear perfume. Don’t bring candles, don’t bring LED lights. Don’t bring fairy lights, because there’s a real trend towards that. And it’s actually something that I would say, even if you’re in a private room by yourself, don’t wear perfume. Don’t bring candles don’t bring aromatherapy into that space. And some aromatherapy is fine, like a little roll on or something subtle is fine. But in that space smells are really overwhelming. And there’s a real marketing push by some of those these companies to make sure you’ve got your candles and make sure you’ve got your aromatherapy. You know, I just watched a documentary on aromatherapy last night, which was fascinating and about the efficacy of aromatherapy. But be really mindful of other people. It’s your moment, it’s your baby, you’ve got a right to speak up. And but you also need to be cognizant of other people and that this is their special time as well if you’re sharing a space. The other advice I would give is, don’t be afraid if your rooms too cold. We talk about this in The Suite Set that, you know you should pack lightest, because if you’re sharing a room with someone, there’s no way you can control the temperature. If you’ve got a room by yourself, use your voice, make sure you say the rooms to call if you’re in pain, make sure you say I’m in pain because there’s varying levels of pain around childbirth. And a lot of women say you know, that’s just part of it, I feel rotten and miserable. But actually ask for help use your voice. If you’re too cold, it’s a lighter to bribe. If you need another water if you need anything, really use your voice there. So that’s a do rather than a don’t. But my don’t is you know, don’t just think of it as your precious moment. And if you’re sharing a room with someone else, I get a lot of feedback around that.

The other thing is try not to get overwhelmed. And don’t get all your advice from social media. So if you’re going into hospital and which we’ve all seen, Kath, around the last few years with constant changes around visitors and constant changes around hospital restrictions. Don’t listen to anything on Facebook groups or anything on social media. Go straight to the source. So if you’ve got a question about what you need for your hospital bag, or what your hospital provides, or what your visiting hours are, or what restrictions are, go straight to the hospital, go straight to your obstetrician, go straight to your family midwife, ask those questions, don’t rely on social media, because they’re all personal experiences. And they’re not based in research. And on that note, Kath, I would say my do is there are a lot of great supportive Facebook community groups out there. But take that with a grain of salt. The other day, I actually did a whole podcast on it. And what I know now was somebody was talking about breastfeeding and drinking. And there’s been a real change in guidelines in the last six months in last 12 months in, in the guidelines from the Australian Government on that. And this woman was like no, no, you can just ignore that. There’s a Canadian Doctor who said it’s okay. And this is the research that they use. And I was fascinated because I feel I’m really interested in this. And so I went and looked at the research and the research that this girl on Facebook was calling was actually a mum, who had gone and bought some scientific testing equipment on eBay, had had a few drinks, had breastfed and had had express milk and had tested her own breast milk. So the test wasn’t that there was no there was no critical research. There was no you know, test provisions there was none of that. So my thing would be take nothing on social media Facebook groups as the gospel.


Yeah. And on that note with breastfeeding alcohol I did relatively recently interviewed a lovely midwife from the Royal Women’s Hospital and we went through all the guidelines. So if you’re interested, check out that episode that I’ll link in the show notes. Thank you, Sally. I think we’ve covered a lot when it comes to hospital bags. And you know how we can take the stress out and what we can pack in terms of how we can be organized. Do you have any final tips when it comes to hospital bags, any final tips or words of wisdom for new mums or pregnant mums who are listening today?


It would just be control the controllables. Put your bag in the car a few weeks beforehand. Feel really calm in that process. And don’t pack too much crap.


Thank you, Sally. We will leave it there. Before we finish off. Can you let, I believe there’s a discount code available for our listeners today. And I’ll put all the links in the show notes. But for those on Instagram listening at the moment, what is the code?


The code is going to be for podcast listeners and the insta who’s listening today, we are going to have FITNEST15 for Instagram and podcast listeners. So Kath will send you all those details.


Right. And I’m typing that in the comments right now. All done.




FITNEST15. Thank you, Sally. It’s always lovely to chat. I do love our chats we always go off on massive tangents and it’s great.


Isn’t it great? I just think we should be having coffee instead of I’m just having a harder life here. All right.


Thank you Sally. We will catch you soon.


Bye, Kath. Thank you.


Thanks so much for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast. Brought to you by my free pregnancy mini pelvic floor and core masterclass which you will find at fitnestmama.com/free. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. And come and say hi, DM me on Instagram. I would love to hear from you. It said FitNest Mama. Until next time. Remember, a healthy pregnancy, confident birth and strong after birth recovery is something that you deserve. Remember, our disclaimer, materials and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. I’ll see you soon!

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