As you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you’re probably getting anxious about all that still needs to be done. With preparation for childbirth, a newborn, and motherhood, there seems to be so much ahead of you.
It was a bit overwhelming for me the first time so I created a third trimester checklist for you. Use this to make sure you have everything ready to go when it comes time to bring your baby into this world.
I’m sure you have enough to worry about with the aches and pains of the end of pregnancy and now to throw in a big to-do list seems exhausting. However, you have plenty of time to get these things done! Start early and space it out and when it comes time for the big day, you’ll feel so much relief that you got a head start.
Third Trimester Checklist
I personally love making checklists because it feels so good to cross things off my list. When you see something completed, doesn’t it make you feel good?
Here are those last-minute things that you want to make sure you complete before childbirth and baby’s arrival. Be sure to read through the details below and use the third trimester checklist as a guide.
If you don’t finish them all, that’s ok! You’ll still have plenty of time once you’re home with your baby. Luckily, newborns typically sleep most of the day!
*This is a super long and detailed post. I’ve broken it all up into categories which you can also find on the third trimester checklist. If you want to skip ahead to a section, find the links below:*
- Preparing your home
- Preparing for childbirth
- Preparing yourself
- Preparing for baby
- Other important tips
*Preparing your home*
Ever heard of nesting? It’s that need for expectant moms to clean and organize before the baby arrives. Blame it on the hormones, I guess, but lucky for us, our body naturally will want to do most of these things!
1. Clean and Declutter with Chemical-Free Products
When you bring home that fresh newborn, you want to make sure your home is free of any dirt, dust, mold, clutter, etc. Your baby won’t yet have a fully developed immune system so you want to avoid any germs or particles getting into their little bodies.
Of course, they won’t be crawling or climbing around yet, so it’s not necessary to go crazy. However, do the best you can to clean the main areas that your baby will come into contact with and declutter the spaces that need it- you’ll need the extra room for ALL the new baby stuff!
You may not have this much time again once you’re a busy mom, so start all that cleaning that you’ve been putting off for a while!
Some mothers are also very conscious about what their home looks like to guests. Since you will probably have a bunch of visitors coming by to see the bab once you’re out of the hospital, you may want to have your home set up for when they come. Although, I personally did not care what others thought of my house- I just had a baby!
Also, you should be using more natural cleaning products in your home now that you’re pregnant and a baby will soon be living there. Consider products with no fragrance, chemicals, or artificial ingredients so your baby is safe from toxins.
Inhaling dangerous chemicals from cleaning products can be harmful for both you and your baby. There are plenty of them on the market now so use your best judgment to find those great chemical-free products.
I personally love the Better Life brand and use their All-Purpose cleaners for everything. It makes me feel more comfortable spraying it around my kids! If you’re unable to get natural cleaning supplies, be sure to use a face mask and make sure the area is well-ventilated, especially while pregnant.
2. Organize the baby stuff
You’ll want to set up all of the baby items to be the most convenient for you and your partner. Having access to those necessities quickly and easily, keeping multiples of baby gear in various rooms that you spend the most time in, and diaper stations readily set up throughout the house, are just a few things to note.
You’ll also want to make sure the bassinet gets set up close to where you sleep, have blankets and burp cloths readily available, and bottles or pumping supplies organized well.
There’s a lot more to setting up your house when bringing baby home, so read my full post of Organizing Your Home for the New Baby here for full details room-by-room and where to begin!
3. Stock up the refrigerator and pantry
Those first days and weeks at home will be such a whirlwind. You definitely won’t want to do much cooking or getting out of the house to go grocery shopping. A
Have extra consumables like paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper, dish detergent, etc., as well as non-perishable items, like snacks and canned/freezer goods, on hand when needed.
Amazon prime or grocery delivery is always a good option when you’re home with your newborn and can’t leave the house. However why not just get this done ahead of time?
4. Prepare freezer meals
Some new moms prefer to have meals prepared before childbirth because making a home-cooked meal from scratch after having a baby can be tough. Find some simple meals that you can prep or make ahead of time and stick them in the freezer for those busy days with your newborn. However, take-out menus will be a useful thing to keep handy, as well!
5. Make breastfeeding and postpartum stations
Keep these essentials in a convenient place in your home for when you get back from the hospital. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, your breasts will ache and leak for the first few days so you can keep some of these supplies handy.
You should have your postpartum kit in the bathroom where you will need most of the supplies. Your breastfeeding station should be set up in a comfortable spot in your home that you think you will be doing most of your breastfeeding, ie. living room couch, nursery glider, or your bedroom.
Get more details about what you’ll need in your Postpartum Kit here.
- Ameda ComfortGel Nipple Pads (my lifesaver!)
- Lanolin cream
- My Breast Friend nursing pillow
- Burp cloths
- Medela softshells
- Nursing bras/tanks
- Water bottles
- Cell phone charger
Get more details about what you’ll need in your Breastfeeding Kit here.
*Preparing for childbirth*
This is the area that most women tend to stress the most about. We are often very scared of the unknown and how labor and delivery will go.
You can prepare the best you can, however, remember that we never know how it’s all going to play out. So do your research and get ready, but also make sure that you’re flexible and understand that plans can change.
1. Pack your hospital bag early
Whether you’re going to a birthing center or hospital, make sure your overnight bag is packed by 36 weeks. Of course earlier than that can’t hurt, but you want to be best prepared in case you go into early labor.
You’ll be staying there for 2-3 nights, so you’ll want to include everything you and dad-to-be will need so they don’t have to make any trips back home.
From making yourself cool and comfortable during labor, what to wear post-delivery, and helping to ease the transition into breastfeeding, you’ll need several items in your overnight bag.
Some of my essentials include:
- a robe
- hair ties
- flip flops
- Nursing pillow/My BreastFriend
- Ameda ComfortGel Pads (for sore nipples)
- phone charger
- toiletries (for you and your partner)
- newborn, zip-up,
- SwaddleMe Velcro Swaddle
- Mam pacifier
Have your bag pack and waiting in your car or by the door so there’s no time wasted. A rolling suitcase also makes it much easier to maneuver through the long halls and wings of the hospital (especially if you have to go in by yourself).
There are many more items to list. Read my full post on What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag for all the necessary essentials you don’t want to forget.
Also, if you have another child and they will be staying in another home while you’re at the hospital, make sure you have a bag packed for them as well. The less last-minute work you have to do, the better!
2. Know the signs and stages of labor
Those last few weeks of pregnancy are filled with anxiousness over when you will actually go into labor. You might think every little pain or cramp is labor contractions, but if it’s not that intense, it probably isn’t. Get informed about labor so you know what to look and feel for when the time comes.
At your final appointments, your OB or midwife should go over the signs of labor and when to give them a call. You can also learn about it more in-depth in a childbirth class. Be sure to ask as many questions as possible.
Every woman experiences labor differently so it’s tough to say exactly what you will feel. However, you WILL KNOW when you’re in labor. Read more about the signs of labor that you may experience.
Being knowledgable about how your labor will progress should help you to feel less stressed and more confident in the situation. There are 3 stages that are broken down even further to separate phases. Each phase is characterized by different physical signs and symptoms.
Learn more specifics about stages of labor from the American Pregnancy Association here.
3. Download a contraction timer app
Download a contraction timer app like Full Term to start timing your contractions as soon as they start. Once they reach 3-5 minutes apart, you want to get to the hospital quickly.
Having this on your phone in preparation for labor is a good idea in case those contractions come on suddenly or to rule out a false alarm.
4. Take a childbirth class
Childbirth/Lamaze classes are typically offered through your hospital, prenatal yoga studio, or local provider. These types of courses help you to prepare for labor and delivery, teach you options to help make informed decisions, and give you techniques and strategies to push your baby out properly while managing the pain.
A labor/childbirth class should be taken as close to your due date as possible so you don’t forget the information given. Take notes if you have to, but don’t wait until too late, just in case you go into early labor!
You can ask your physician or midwife for suggestions or look through Facebook/Google/Instagram at professionals offering classes. Although an in-person class is the best experience, there are plenty of online classes if you and your partner can’t make it out to class together.
There are a variety of techniques that are taught in order to excel at childbirth. Read further here on specific methods that are available to you and how to find a local provider.
5. Create a birth plan
This isn’t a necessary step for childbirth, but some women may want to have one in place. During and immediately after labor, you’re not in the best mental state to make decisions that you chose for yourself beforehand.
Make sure you lay it out to your partner and nursing staff at the hospital or birthing center. The best way to do this is to prepare a written birth plan ahead of time to give to the staff as soon as you come in.
Jena from Live Core Strong has a great customizable birth plan that will walk you through how to create one and everything you need to include. This goes for breastfeeding, as well as your whole labor and delivery experience.
Make sure you write down
This will also help you determine what items you may want to bring with you for delivery or what the hospital provides. If you want to have a more natural birth, some women prefer to bring their own birthing balls, massagers, essential oils, etc.
I’ve given birth at 2 separate hospitals and they were both very different experiences. During my second birth experience, the nurses were not at all helpful!
It’s a good thing I had already been through it and I did my research, so I knew what I needed to do with my baby immediately after birth. You never know what your experience will be like so that’s why it’s smart to educate yourself and not rely on the hospital staff to be your advocates.
6. Pre-register at your delivering hospital and take a tour
Some expectant mothers may be able to choose the hospital that they wish to deliver. However, most of the time, this is pre-determined by your physician’s practice or insurance.
It’s a good idea to take a tour of the hospital or birthing center before it’s time to give birth. It may help to reduce some anxiety once you have seen the labor and mother-baby units, in order to:
- Get to know the layout: where to park, where to enter if it’s a weekday or after-hours, and how to get to the maternity ward
- Find out what resources are available: lactation consultant, level III nursery, NICU, refrigerator in the postpartum unit, hairdryer, vending machines, cafeteria, etc.
- Learn about visitation policies: how many visitors are allowed in the room during delivery or after birth, times of visitation
- Explore class options: childbirth, breastfeeding, baby care, seminars/support groups on specific cases like twins, NICU moms, babies with special needs
- Find out what is available for labor and delivery: birthing balls, fans, water tub, squat bars, fetal monitoring, television, epidural criteria, etc.
- Meet the Staff: may be different nurses on the day you deliver, but could give you more peace of mind
- Familiarity: see what the rooms are like that you will be staying in and get a feel for the hospital
- Ask q
Visiting the hospital also gives you a chance to ask questions to the staff and nurses. They will typically give you their protocol for generic situations both during labor, delivery, and postpartum.
You will want to pre-register at the hospital to reduce the time it takes you to fill out all the necessary paperwork during labor. It also provides the hospital with an idea of how many women could potentially be going into labor at a given time. This can help to guide their staffing and equipment needs during certain periods.
7. Have a plan for getting to the hospital
Work out a plan with your partner, parents, neighbors, or whoever will be close by to take you to the hospital. Go over scenarios if it happens in the middle of the night, weekend, or while you or your partner are at work.
When I went into labor, my husband was over 2 hours away. I was glad we had a plan in place if we weren’t together. It’s even more crucial if you have other children who need to be picked up, dropped off, or taken care of while you get to the hospital.
8. Birth announcement props for photos or videos
The moment after your baby arrives, you’ll probably want to call and text friends and family to let them know the good news. Everyone will surely want a photo of your brand new baby to go along with it!
You may want to wait until you get a good shot of them instead of sending any photo. Now is the time to get some ideas
I chose to announce my baby with the photo above. I made a DIY wooden sign (with instructions here), placed my own muslin blanket around the cushion of the hospital bassinet, swaddled him up, and used a good photo filter app.
I thought it looked much cuter than some of the typical birth announcement photos with the basic hospital blankets. So, pick out the outfit, headbands, blankets, and props that you may want to use for baby’s first photo op.
Also, you may be interested in getting professional photography done for birth or after birth. Some photographers specialize in Fresh 48 sessions which take beautiful photos of your new family during the first 48 hours in the hospital. If you wish to get those taken, you’ll want to book a photographer beforehand.
Related Post: Simple DIY Wooden Hospital Birth Announcement Sign
9. Plan for labor updates and visitors
Having a contact person to give labor updates to the rest of your family and friends is a good idea to plan beforehand. You won’t want to be calling and texting everybody to let them know the baby is coming soon and your progression through labor.
You should also establish who you want to be in the delivery room with you, as well as who you want to visit at the hospital after your baby is born. You want to limit the number of people who come so make it clear to those that are invited or not.
Sometimes mom-to-be may want their mother or sister there with them, but others may not. Their mom or sister may just assume they will be invited and rush over to the hospital as soon as you say you’re in labor. Therefore, make sure your requests are known beforehand.
Related Post: 18 Things Not to Do After Giving Birth
10. Educate yourself on what happens immediately after birth
When you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard a ton of childbirth stories and the specifics of labor and delivery. Contractions and pushing
However, not too often do people talk about the recovery of childbirth and the few minutes and hours after a baby is delivered (probably because they don’t want to scare you).
I wish I knew more about what to expect during the moments after delivery when the time came. Read my super detailed post, 29 Things About the Moments After Delivery That All Expecting Moms Should Know, so you’re well-informed before going into labor.
11. Gather your postpartum essentials
After delivery, your lady parts will most likely be very sore. You just pushed a watermelon-sized baby out of there, so that’s to be expected!
There are some items that you want to have readily available to help you heal and feel comfortable after childbirth. Some of my essentials to stock up on are:
- Heavy maxi pads
- Seamless, stretchy briefs
- Stool softener
- Tucks pads
- Ameda ComfortGel Nipple Pads*
- Lanolin cream
- Tummy-Control Leggings
*One of my favorite postpartum products was the Ameda Comfortgel Pads. I experienced terrible nipple pain during the first couple weeks of nursing and these helped immensely!
View my full post on Essential Items for your Postpartum Kit here for full details.
1. Get your body ready: naturally ripen and dilate cervix
By the final weeks of pregnancy, you’ll be ready to get that baby out any way possible. Late in your third trimester, you may want to start getting your body prepared for labor.
There is no hard scientific research that proves that these methods will work to dilate you faster, but they may help to ripen your cervix. This can help to make your body more comfortable and make labor smoother and easier.
If you’re in your final weeks or overdue, these techniques may help to naturally induce labor if that’s what you’re trying to do:
- bounce on an exercise ball
- have sex
- nipple stimulation
- spicy foods
Most of these products or methods will not actually PUT YOU into labor. So you don’t have to worry about going into early labor by using these techniques. Your body will know when it is ready so these things may just help it along.
Related Post: How I Managed the Pain During 4 Natural Childbirths
2. De-stress and have “you” time
Try to relax and de-stress before baby arrives. You’ll never have this much time to yourself again so take advantage of it! Treat yourself to something you enjoy before motherhood sneaks up on you. Try some of these ideas:
- a massage
- hair cut/color
- nature walk/hike
- reading a book
- exercise class
- one of your favorite hobbies
3. Prenatal yoga
During my last few months of pregnancy, my body was getting so uncomfortable. My muscles and joints felt so tight because I was moving a lot less and the baby was putting a lot of pressure on my legs and pelvic region.
Doing prenatal yoga helped immensely to get me moving and stretching the areas that restricted my movements. I took a local class which also helped me to meet other expecting moms while giving me the ability to get my body feeling more comfortable.
Prenatal yoga has so many benefits to help you prepare for labor. Not only does it make your body feel good, but you should learn breathing techniques and natural, pain-relieving techniques for labor.
Check out google or social media to find local yoga studios that offer prenatal yoga or even search on Youtube if you’d like to try out some poses in the comfort of your own home.
4. Plan a date night
Don’t put your relationship on the backburner! It’s the glue that will hold your family together.
This is a great time to have a special date night with your spouse. You may not get this alone time for awhile once the baby is here, so enjoy it now. Plan something festive, entertaining, or relaxing that you both can share together.
This may help to relieve stress and improve your relationship as well. My husband and I started a date night jar that we like to use almost every weekend because I think it’s important to have that time with your spouse.
We pick a stay-at-home date night one week and a going-out date night the next week and alternate between the two. It’s always a fun adventure and we have something to look forward to every weekend.
5. Confirm financials & insurance
Make sure that you’re financially prepared for when
Read further details from my full blog post on Financial Must-Dos Before Baby.
6. Make sure dad is prepared
Moms-to-be are typically the ones doing all the research, education, and preparation when it comes to parenthood. However, dad has just as big of a role in the process.
Make sure that you’re sharing everything with your partner in regards to childbirth and caring for your newborn. He should be well-versed in all of your plans and wishes for when the time comes.
*Prepare for baby*
1. Take a baby care or infant
If you’ve never been around a newborn before or feel less than confident with your abilities or skills as a new mom, you may take a course on basic baby care. This will show you all you need to know in regards to bathing, diapering, feeding, and safety.
They should offer them at your hospital or a local clinic or you can find plenty of video tutorials online.
Even though the nurses should go over most of these topics, it may help you worry less about bringing home the new baby. It should also help you to feel less overwhelmed with information right after giving birth.
Infant CPR is also a good idea to know as a parent. They should offer them at some hospitals or doctors’ offices, you just have to reach out and ask. Check out the American Red Cross for locations near you offering Infant CPR classes.
Again, the internet is also a great resource to find videos that fully educate on these skills as well.
2. Prepare for breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be very natural and easy for some moms, but plenty of women struggle with getting started or even continuing. You may want to prepare your mind and body to breastfeed your newborn.
- Order your free breast pump through insurance
- Take a breastfeeding course
- Have a birth plan
- Gather all of your breastfeeding products (especially My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow)
- Watch the real thing
- Have a small amount of formula on hand (just in case your milk supply isn’t sufficient)
- Purchase bottles that are most similar to a breast to reduce nipple confusion for pumped milk. I love Phillips Avent Natural Baby Bottles.
Read this post on How to Prepare Yourself for Breastfeeding Your Newborn for tips on how to best prepare and also, Tips for Breastfeeding Success from Day One which offers advice when initially beginning to nurse in the hospital.
3. Prepare for bottle-feeding
If you will be giving your baby formula, you will want to be prepared for this, as well. Have plenty of bottles on hand so you aren’t washing them constantly. Your baby will be taking about 8 bottles a day so having at least 10 will make things a lot easier.
Don’t stock up on formula in case your child doesn’t like a certain brand or is allergic/sensitive to it because you aren’t able to return it (even if it is UNOPENED).
If you can afford a fancy new gadget, get a Baby Brezza. It will make formula feeding much simpler by preparing and warming formula with just the click of a button.
4. Do baby’s laundry and nursery organization
A newborn’s skin is very sensitive. Therefore, you want to make sure that you wash all the clothes and baby gear pieces that he or she will come in contact with.
From the onesies, pajamas, and swaddles to the bassinet sheets, swing liners, and blankets, everything should be washed. Be sure to use a delicate detergent made specifically for babies and sensitive skin.
Organize the nursery closet and drawers by months. You can use labels, baskets, and organizers to keep everything neat and separated.
5. Book newborn photography, if desired
If you’re interested in getting those angelic newborn photographs taken, you’ll need to book this in advance. You just give them your due date so they know an approximate time period for your photos and finalize a day and time once the baby is born.
There are different styles of newborn photography and photographers specialize in various types of portraits for the little ones. You can choose to have photos taken in the hospital (fresh 48), newborn portraits, or lifestyle newborn (natural photos of your family in your home).
Look up local photographers in your area on Instagram, Facebook, and Google to find what style suits you best. I find it easiest to search through social media and hashtags to find local photographers.
Related Post: Tips for DIY Baby Photography
6. Choose a pediatrician
During the first year of your baby’s life, you will be spending a lot of time at the Pediatrician’s office. These routine, baby check-ups let your doctor keep track
Look through your insurance provider’s list of covered providers before choosing a pediatrician. You want to make sure that you’re choosing a doctor that is in-network to minimize any unexpected costs.
You can set up consultation appointments with a
7. Stock up on baby consumables
Of course you can always run out to the store when you need, but who wants to worry about that? If you see
- diaper rash cream
- coconut oil
8. Get your car seat professionally installed
One thing that hospitals make sure you
This is very important for the safety of your infant. Every state offers some kind of inspection and/or installation for your car seat free of charge. They are usually done at police stations, fire departments, or hospitals by certified professionals.
You can find out what locations are around you by searching for car seat installation locations here. It’s a simple trip to ensure car seat safety that could save your baby’s life.
9. Have baby gear & essentials set up
You probably received a ton of adorable baby gifts from stuffed animals and fuzzy blankets to tutus and walkers. However, a lot of these items aren’t necessary for the first few months of your baby’s life.
Hopefully, you’ve organized your home well and just left out the necessities for your newborn. Here are some of the best newborn essentials you should have ready to go:
- Bassinet (I prefer the Halo Swivel) with extra sheets
- Velcro swaddles
- Baby swing
- Baby bouncer
- Boppy Newborn Lounger
- Footed sleeper pajama with ZIPPERS (your baby will live in these)
- Burp cloths
- Hat (depending on the season)
- Blankets (muslin or fuzzy depending on the season)
- Consumables (diapers, wipes, etc. as mentioned above)
Be sure to set up most of those larger baby gear items beforehand. Although they may seem simple, it could take some time, effort, and 2 sets of hands to set up. This way you can try them out and make sure they work correctly before testing them out on your newborn.
10. Finalize baby’s name
Maybe this is something that you decided on in your first trimester or perhaps you have been putting off until seeing your baby. Either way, make sure that you are 100% on the first and middle name.
If you’d like to decide on it in the hospital once you see your baby for the first time, have at least your top 3 options available. This will take the guessing out of it and ensure that you don’t regret your decision.
11. Look into childcare options
If you’re going back to work soon after your baby is born, you may need to figure out what you’re going to do for childcare. Even if you have a few months of maternity leave, the end will sneak up on you so be ready beforehand.
Some daycares, nannies, or babysitters have wait lists up to 1 year so you would need to get on one quickly. If you need help deciding between childcare options, here’s a great guide to help you figure that out.
12. Plan a Sip-and-See (if desired)
A sip-and-see is a small get together that the new parents host in order for friends and family to meet the new baby. It can be in lieu of having visitors at all different times and days.
If you plan on having one, plan out some of the details beforehand. You just may have to wait on the date, but decor and menu can be planned out beforehand.
1. Don’t assume you will go past your due date
If I had a nickel for every time someone said, It’s your first pregnancy, you’ll be late, I’d be rich! However, I was not late.
For my first, I was 5 days early and the second was 2 weeks early! You never know when that baby is going to come. That’s why you need to be prepared well before your due date.
2. Don’t save anything for the last minute
Again, you don’t want to assume that you will be late and save things for the last minute. If you’re still painting the nursery or ordering diapers, try to get that out of the way as soon as possible.
Of course, there’s nothing that can’t be saved until after the baby comes. However, you will want to have the time post-childbirth to enjoy your newborn, get rest when you’re able to, and getting your new routine down as a mom.
You don’t want to be assembling cribs and decorating bookshelves once you have your baby here (although you can since your baby won’t even be using these things at that point!)
3. Try not to stress
Easier said than done, I know. However, be positive that you are in the best hands with your care and everything will happen as it should!
4. Educate yourself and prepare for the unexpected
There is so much information out there that can help you stay informed. It’s your job to do the research and know about the childbirth process.
You’ll want to read as much as you can because doctors don’t really give you too much detail about the labor and delivery process. Unless you’re asking specific questions (which how would you know if you don’t learn about it?), they’re not giving you enough information.
Birthing and baby care classes can help you be more confident when starting out, but may not even fully prepare you. When the actual time came, I forgot everything I learned in classes and read online. It all just escaped my mind because I was just focused on the health of myself and my baby.
5. Send Thank-You Notes from your shower
Make sure you get those thank you notes out of the way before birth. You’ll have plenty to do after the baby is here so that’s one thing that can be done prior.
In your third trimester, you want to get all the last minute things done to get ready for the new baby. Follow the third trimester checklist above, and you should be all set for your precious little one to arrive soon.