It’s finally the third trimester! The home stretch of pregnancy can feel like it’s going to last a year instead of three months, but I promise – you won’t actually be pregnant forever, and there are a few things you should make sure to get done before you have your baby. So if you haven’t done them yet, here is my third trimester checklist for all of the last minute things you should do before your baby arrives.
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1. Set Up a Safe Sleep Space for Baby
Number one on the third trimester checklist – in case you’ve been putting this off for awhile – is to find and setup a safe space for baby to sleep. This is arguably one of the top 3 most important things you need to have ready for baby, so we’ll cover this reminder first!
If you’re planning on having baby in your room for the first few weeks, which I strongly recommend for so many reasons (it’s better both safety-wise since it helps reduce the risk of SIDS, and sanity-wise when it comes to all of those middle of the night feedings) – a pack ‘n play or bassinet is a great option.
I prefer pack ‘n plays, because bassinets have a limited lifespan – i.e. baby can grow out of it fairly quickly. Pack ‘n plays can be used for years and are great for travel and for stays at family’s houses, particularly during the holidays. This is the exact one that we have had for three years and love.
If you need more ideas for what to have in your makeshift nursery – or actual nursery – check out this post on what newborn babies actually need (minimal fluff included).
2. Have a Plan for Meals
Necessity #2: Figure out how you’re going to eat! It’s 100% possible to still cook while you’re in those first few weeks, but it’s much easier to prepare ahead of time. You can make freezer meals, gather all of your takeout menus, and if you’re REALLY organized, make a list and plan out your meals for the first two weeks.
Another option that we love using is an at-home meal kit/food delivery service like Home Chef (you can get $35 off your first order with this link!). Each week – or less often if you want – they send you all of the ingredients you need for the recipes you’ve selected, and you then cook the meal yourself. These services are sooo good for simplifying your meal planning and cooking process, and eliminating the need to go to the grocery store.
3. Figure Out How You’re Going to Handle Night Feedings
One thing I didn’t fully understand going into that first week at home with our son, is that newborns eat very very frequently. This means that you are essentially a baby feeding machine every 2-3 hours for the first few weeks, or until they get back to their birthweight. The tough part, is this schedule continues overnight.
So given that, it’s a really good idea to sit down with your partner and chat about how you want to handle nighttime feedings for your baby, and come up with a plan. This was probably the hardest part of newborn life for us, because of how much we struggled with breastfeeding, which made our days and nights extra exhausting.
Will your partner change baby’s diaper, bring baby to you, you nurse the baby, and then your partner will take baby back to bed? Are you going to start pumping and have baby feed from a bottle? What about getting a night nurse? Talk about your options, do your research, and have a plan before you are in the thick of newborn life.
You can also check out my sample newborn schedule and post on all things newborn sleep to get a head start on understanding what your baby’s day may look like. (This is my most popular post to date, and I think – and hope! – it has a wealth of really valuable info to help in those first few weeks.)
4. Talk About Visitors
Another big topic for discussion is visitors! Because new babies are adorable and exciting, you can expect that people will want to come visit. Grandparents especially may want to come over and stay to help out in any way they can. (This is great, by the way. Accept their help! And that of anyone else who offers.)
But how long do you want visitors? Are you ok with your in-laws staying in your home for two weeks? Will it be helpful or more stressful? Do you want to have a week to yourselves before anyone comes over? Think about what your preferences may be and talk it out.
5. Have a Stash of Diapers, Wipes, and Onesies
Newborns really don’t need that much, but at a minimum, make sure you have a decent stack of diapers – both Newborn and Size 1 (most babies don’t fit into newborn diapers for very long, so don’t buy too many), baby wipes, and a few onesies.
This is the bare minimum of what you need – and it’s totally ok to keep your little one in onesies everyday instead of really adorable newborn outfits. Even though those outfits are ridiculously cute, you probably won’t be going out much, and my babies had an uncanny ability to have major blowouts in their best outfits. So get the cute outfits in 0-3 month size and save them for later!
Posts You May Also Like: The Beginner’s Guide to Surviving Life as a New Mom
6. Wash Baby’s Clothes and Sheets
I really loved nesting and getting everything set up for baby, and there’s something oddly satisfying about washing all of their clothes, readying the closet, and making up their bedding. This isn’t something you want to have to do after baby arrives, so make sure to get this task checked off the list.
We always used a this gentle newborn detergent for the first few months to help avoid any allergies, rashes, skin sensitivities. You get the idea.
7. Pack Your Hospital Bag
Get that hospital bag packed at least two weeks before your due date, because you never know when you’ll go into labor! It’s also a good idea to read through your hospital’s literature, or give them a call to see what they provide you with during your hospital stay.
In my case, a lot of the postpartum care items were provided by the hospital, so I didn’t bring any of that stuff (think those the huge mesh granny panties, sanitary pads, spritz bottles, etc.), but no toiletries were provided, so I brought all of those.
For more ideas on what to pack, here’s a full hospital bag checklist post here that talks about the must-have items, and a printable checklist that covers everything you may want for you, your partner, and baby.
8. Get Started On Your Birth Announcement
Are you planning to send out a birth announcement? For some reason, I found this to be one of the most overwhelming things to do postpartum. Actually, I know the reason — I was super tired and trying to get our newborn photoshoot done, learn how to breastfeed, and pick out and design the card was a lot of extra stuff to handle!
If you plan on doing an announcement there are four things you can do now:
- Pick out your design. We happily used Minted for both of our announcements. They have a ton of beautiful, affordable options.
- If you want a photoshoot done and haven’t already booked a photographer, do that ASAP. Ideally this should be done early in the second trimester, because newborn photographers are crazy busy and book up fast. Also note that most photographers like to do the shoot when baby is around 10-14 days old.
- Make a spreadsheet or list with the info for each person who will receive a card. Gather up their addresses now, so that you don’t have to track them down later.
- Buy some stamps. I know – I have almost none of those either!
The main point with announcements is, the less you have to figure out post-birth, the better!
9. Get Your Carseat (Properly) Installed
This one is very important, but also easy to forget about. In most places in the U.S., you can have your local fire station install the seat for you. This is really helpful especially for first time parents, since it’s fairly easy to mess up installation of these seats.
However, I also think it’s a good idea to read through the manual and work through it so that you also know how to install the seat on your own. It always seems to need to be reinstalled at the most inconvenient times, so it’s good to become an expert on your child’s seat.
One other really important reason to make sure you get that seat installed? Except in rare instances, you will not be allowed to leave the hospital without a carseat.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to use a seat that was previously for an older sibling, don’t be like me and forget to readjust the settings and put the newborn insert back in. If you’re still looking for a seat, you can read all about my favorite infant carseat here.
10. Find a Pediatrician
Oddly enough, pediatricians can be really hard to find and decide on. I like to do a lot of research and crowdsourcing. Talk to friends in your area, or join a local mom group on Facebook and get opinions there. Make sure to check out their website and give the office a call.
One note: our babies were seen by the pediatrician on call at the hospital, since the pediatrician we chose was much closer to our home, and did not work at the hospital we delivered at, so this may be an option and something you can bring up with your OB.
11. Read up on Breastfeeding
If you’ve read my post about breastfeeding tips, you know that I had some crazy struggles with breastfeeding and I have A LOT to say on the topic. The most important advice I can give to anyone planning to breastfeed, is to do some homework, and don’t assume it will come 100% naturally. BUT, there are so many products and resources out there to help you!
One great resource? Online classes! Milkology has a really comprehensive class on breastfeeding that gets great reviews, and is something I so wish I had known about when I became a new mom. They’ll teach you about latching, different breastfeeding positions, cover all the troubleshooting tips for common issues, and more. They also offer classes on managing your milk supply and pumping, and all of them are super affordable.
12. Take a Childbirth Class
If you haven’t taken a childbirth class, consider trying to sign up for one if you still can! For first time moms, these can provide a wealth of really helpful information. Many times hospitals will offer a course, but you can also check for classes hosted by doulas in your area.
13. Consider Writing a Birth Plan
Birth plans are a great way to get your thoughts sorted about what you want for your labor and delivery, and are an easy way to communicate those thoughts and wishes with your team of doctors and nurses.
During my first pregnancy, I was fairly clueless about what to expect during labor and delivery, what to ask for, and what I even wanted. Writing out a birth plan completely changed that, and made me feel a lot more confident about…well, everything.
I talk about how to write a birth plan, what to include, and the best templates to help you create one (it doesn’t have to be crazy), in this post.
14. Grab Some Nursing Friendly Pajamas
If you’re planning to breastfeed, general nursing friendly clothing becomes more important later on – when you actually start leaving the house again – but you’ll definitely want to make sure you have some comfortable, breastfeeding friendly pajamas and basic tops (any button down works!) to get you through the first few weeks.
I wore these nightgowns for basically two years straight. They are so comfortable, and make breastfeeding in the middle of the night easy.
15. Spend Time with Your Partner
You guys, go spend time with your partner (as soon as you’re done reading this!).
Your life is never going to be the same once baby arrives – in mostly good ways, but also in some not so great ways.
I’ll be honest — one of the not so great things about having a baby is that it’s very easy for your relationship to go to the wayside. It’s easy (and feels justifiable) for your focus to shift about 90% towards baby, and 10% towards…everything else. And when you do have free time, lots of new parents are honestly just too exhausted to spend that time doing much other than sleeping, or catching up on the millions of things they’ve neglected.
So, take at least one night before baby arrives, and go out and do some of your favorite things. Movies? Mini golf? Plan it out, and go do it. I have a bunch of ideas for fun, inexpensive date ideas in this post.
Side note: right now is obviously a super weird time and it may not be possible to go out, BUT , you can always have a date night in. A few ideas:
- Find a new recipe and cook together
- Play board games
- Have a virtual game night with friends
- Make some popcorn, order in, and watch a movie
- Try a “Date Night In” box
I promise that you WILL go out again! You will eventually have date nights and more time to spend together again, but babysitters are expensive, so now is a great time to go have some fun.