The Most Important Things To Do Before Baby Arrives
The third trimester of pregnancy is far from a walk in the park, but it’s also a very important time in terms of preparing for life after baby. As your due date approaches, It’s the obvious time to tackle that third-trimester to-do list of things to do before baby arrives. (It’s a good idea to deal with this stuff now, then postpartum recovery will be WAY easier.)
I’m here now, in the third trimester, have been for a few weeks, and it’s already getting old. I’m looking forward to baby’s arrival and the Braxton hicks contractions are a nice addition to what’s already been an uncomfortable 6 months.
I generally bounce out of bed in the morning, no matter how much sleep I got (or didn’t get) – but not so for the last two weeks. The tired is here. I’m also moving slower, the ground is farther away, and I’m sort of feeling the clock ticking on what’s left of my life as I know it.
(OK, that’s dramatic, but you know what I mean. A new baby changes things – regardless of if it’s your first or your second or your 8th. Things won’t be the SAME as they are now. That’s always hard for me.)
One of the things that makes the third trimester go a little faster and distracts me from all the uncomfortable-ness of it is throwing myself into my pregnancy / pre-baby to-do list, especially during the final stretch!
Knowing I’m getting important things crossed off my third-trimester checklist, things that will make my life easier in the coming months, DOES help a little with the general frustration of feeling like an exhausted hippopotamus, and it helps pass the time until I get to meet my new little babe. Plus I want this stuff done before I’m standing there at 3 am wondering did my water just break? Or did I just pee a little?
So what’s on my to-do list for this last few months of my pregnancy?
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Preparing for your baby to arrive can be both exciting and daunting all at the same time. So after having gone through this a couple times myself, I am more than happy to share the things that were the most important and helpful for me to get done before baby arrived!
Make freezer meals
I got on these EARLY in the third trimester this time. Last time I made the mistake of waiting till nearer the end to make meals, thinking fresher meals would somehow be better…
But know what’s not better? A 10 hour day on your feet when you’re 8.5 months pregnant. That is not better than ANYTHING and is the last thing you want when you are already that far along. (And the meals got used up so fast, a few extra months in the freezer will NOT hurt them.)
Last time, I ended the day in tears and Tylenol. That much chopping and cooking on your feet with an extra 25 pounds hanging off your tummy is just HARD. Do this well before the end of the third trimester. And while I did make a whole bunch of healthy freezer meals for postpartum, getting it done was one of the most trying things I had to check off of my list before baby arrived because I waited so long to get it done.
Make your freezer meals (because believe me, you will want to have these once you bring baby home) while you still have plenty of time left to prepare. The best way to make enough freezer meals to last for weeks or even months postpartum is to space out making them over the span of a week or even a few weeks or weekends.
Or take this one step farther and make a MEAL PLAN for the first month or two postpartum. If it’s all written out – exactly what to thaw or what needs to be added to the crockpot that night – someone else can be in charge of this.
I actually suggest making meal planning a way of life – not just something on your third trimester checklist – and use a meal planning program like Eat at Home Cooks to make this easy. For less than $15/month you get access to FOUR separate meal plans (Traditional, Slow Cooker, No Flour, No Sugar and Wholesome Traditional). Print the plans, color-coded grocery lists, and recipes you want for that month, and literally never worry about “what’s for dinner” again!
OR grab a copy of a printable meal planner – isn’t this one cute?
Your husband, older kids, or even a friend who stops by and asks what they can do for you will be 100% capable of getting dinner taken care of if you have it all written down for them.
Related: Printable Meal Planning Templates
Tackle pesky “spring cleaning” tasks
The ones that are going to drive you nuts for 6 months if they don’t get done.
My BIG one was the pantry.
There was no way I could deal with the pantry the way it was for another 6 months. It took a whole afternoon, but I was SO glad I got to it. (It also was beneficial to do this before I did my meal plan. I knew exactly what canned and dry goods I had on hand and what needed to be purchased.)
The fridge and freezer also needed tackling, and it felt so great to get them clean!
Other areas that might want your attention before you literally don’t have it to give include the medicine cabinet, the cupboard under the bathroom sink and the closet in the baby room.
Maybe you want to get to some of those “things” that we all just don’t clean each week – tops of the fans, window tracks… maybe the baseboards (I’m not this picky – dusty baseboards postpartum bother me not).
Make a Postpartum Kit
Postpartum prep is something I would NOT skip over. (I mean really, this whole third trimester checklist is postpartum prep, but this is first-week mommy + baby specific stuff.)
You do NOT want to be stopping at the drug store on the way home from the hospital for those essential items like giant pads, or waiting on an Amazon delivery of those extra huge (and comfy) mesh underwear, or sending your husband to Costco for Epsom salts in bulk so you can take a sitz bath every day. (I also had to stop on the way home for pacifiers and chocolate bars. These things are ESSENTIAL to me, and maybe you want them around too!)
Make sure you have AT LEAST these items ON HAND before your baby’s birth:
- Giant absorbent pads (these are cheap, and they work)
- Breathable mesh undies
- Numbing spray
- Healing spray
- This magic cream for hemorrhoids (you can use it for anything else too – it’s GREAT for burns, and my sister used it in her kids eyes for pink eye!)
- Epsom salts (for sitz bath)
- Lavender essential oil (also for the sitz bath)
- Your favorite bottle of wine (yes, you deserve a glass of wine. You just made a HUMAN.)
- Tylenol and Advil
- Nursing pads (even if you’re not breastfeeding – the milk still comes in…and out!)
- Nursing bra (if you are planning to breastfeed)
Consider taking a breastfeeding class
Think about joining a breastfeeding support group if nursing is something you plan to try.
Breastfeeding is NOT always a “natural” thing to do, and there is much to “learn” about it that you can do before baby gets here.
Have a lactation consultant on speed dial, and consider taking an online breastfeeding class to be more prepared.
Related: The first week nursing a newborn
Do labor prep / take a childbirth class
I know a lot of women go all-in on this one, because let’s face it, labor can be a little scary.
You don’t have to go crazy, but this is a good time to start rebozo sifting, to help baby stay head down.
I personally choose not to do a birth plan, and to err on the side of trusting our healthcare provider and preparing myself by knowing the basics of what to expect… I find it less stressful to NOT have a detailed plan that may or may not be what I need when I need it.
I think good labor prep is having a serious and detailed conversation with your doctor or midwife about what to expect and how THEY do things, doing a hospital tour (if you’re planning a hospital birth a tour of your local hospital can really set you at ease) and taking an online prenatal course. (This is the prenatal class that I’ve taken, and it is GREAT. It teaches you everything from the stages of labor to how to handle labor pain.)
Print Dad’s Labor Cards
Dad probably isn’t going to be QUITE as prepared as you are for baby’s grand entrance. A great way you can help him help you with labor cards.
These 3×5 cards will be a huge help for both of you. He’ll know what to do and say during the entire labor process and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that he’s got your back. You can grab a set here for $4.99.
Pack your hospital bag, and pack one for daddy too!
I didn’t bother to pack a hospital bag, and as a first time mom I ended up in the delivery room with a lot of stuff I didn’t need and hardly any stuff I DID need.
And my husband didn’t eat for over 24 hours and was still wearing the same underwear 2 days later.
Knowing what I know now, I will be using this awesome hospital bag checklist to BE PREPARED this time. It’s ok to pack your bags while you still have a lot of time to prepare so you aren’t running around wildly stuffing things into a bag last minute after your water breaks.
Get the baby essentials
Believe it or not, there’s not that much STUFF that baby actually needs at the beginning. (So don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend a fortune on baby stuff right off the bat! But you do need to do a bit of baby prep of course.)
You do want to MAKE SURE you’ve purchased and installed a car seat, decided where baby will sleep, washed baby’s clothes, and collected these basic baby care items:
- Car seat (you’ll want this installed and know how to use it!)
- A few outfits/sleepers washed + ready to be worn
- Bum cream (this stuff is amazing + quickly heals the WORST rashes)
- A couple of good swaddle blankets (these are my absolute favorite)
- A baby monitor
- Some sort of baby bed
I do think the third trimester is the best time to buy baby stuff. Try not to collect too much in the way of baby gear in the first trimester.
Prepare baby’s nursery
Prior to baby’s arrival you’ll want to have determined where baby will sleep.
If you’re creating a nursery space for baby, this is a good time to set up baby’s room. (We didn’t have a nursery for our first, but we prepared his space by placing a crib + change table in our room.)
Pick out baby’s name
This might SEEM like a given on your to-do list for baby, but I have definitely been in the position of sitting on the delivery table waiting to be moved to a room… and reading lists of baby names to my husband. (Here’s a great list of cool boy’s names, and one for girls names!)
We TRIED during the eight months previous to choose names – but failed both times.
It is just a little stressful to have to try and choose a name at birth. I’ve got this handy list of tips on how to choose the perfect baby name ready for next time. (If there is a next time, ha.)
Familiarize yourself with new mom apps
Did you know there are apps that can replace white noise machines, baby monitors, and even send you prompts to save memories!?
I’ve put together a list of the best apps for new moms right here, so check that out and make some mental (or physical) notes about which ones might make your life easier come baby time!
Get some maternity photos taken
If you’re up for a real photo session with a fabulous dress, DO that!
If you feel like a walrus and can’t stand the idea of a real photo shoot, please – do your hair, put on some make up, and have a friend take a couple pictures of you anyway. I have exactly zero pictures of me pregnant with my first, and I regret that.
The great thing about digital photos is that you don’t have to print them, and if you do, you can always hide them, but you can’t go back and take them after baby’s arrival. So just do it. Some day you might want to remember those last weeks of pregnancy – regardless of what you look like.
Set up automatic payments for any and all recurring bills (so often overlooked on a third-trimester checklist!)
Obviously, this isn’t something you want to do if things tend to be a little tight in your budget – you don’t want to end up overdrawn – but you ALSO don’t want to end up like me:
Post-first-baby I became (for some reason) completely incapable of staying organized and on top of the bills. I, who never pay a cent of interest, paid interest on SIX different bills. I got MANY phone calls from collectors saying things like “Hey, why don’t you send us money anymore?”
Yes, this is bad for your credit. No, you shouldn’t let this happen. So set up automatic payments to go out of your account in you can, and then you won’t even have to think about paying bills.
Take stock of your financial situation and what it will look like AFTER baby
This will mean something different for everyone.
First, go over your budget and see where you can cut back. Determine if you have enough coming in while you’re postpartum – and for how long it will be enough.
For us it meant sitting down and figuring out if we could afford for me to take maternity leave or afford to not go back to work at all – which was what I REALLY wanted. (Turns out no, I actually need to bring in some income. Thus the birth of this blog. This blog is how I earn a full-time income as a stay at home mom now… and it was born from the desire to stay home with my baby.)
Try to BORROW as much baby stuff as you can to save, and practice flexing your frugal muscles!
Related: Preparing to have a baby on a budget
Spend a little quality time with your older siblings + your husband
You are GOING to be focused on your new itty bitty for a while… that’s not negotiable.
Really take time to just enjoy the other people in your life and spend a little special one-on-one time with each of them.
One of the things I’m struggling with the most as I look forward to welcoming our new babe is that I know my attention will be divided soon, and I worry about how my FIRST baby will take that. (I also recognize that it’s ok that the first baby learns the world does NOT revolve around him, and this will probably be a HEALTHY thing. It’s just hard for me.)
Enjoy Your Baby Shower
I’m so looking forward to celebrating with my friends – even if I’m not looking forward to playing baby shower games. (Have I mentioned how much I hate those?)
And the baby shower cake. I’m always looking forward to cake. LOL.
If you’ve set up a baby registry, that can help you take care of crossing all the baby clothes and baby gear off your list – but remember to check after the shower pick up the things you didn’t receive as shower gifts!
If you’re wondering what to wear to your baby shower, check out our list of the cutest maternity baby shower dresses for pregnant women!
Take care of YOU – this should top off your last month of pregnancy checklist!
The third trimester is NOT the time to neglect yourself.
You’re probably not sleeping well, and if you’re like me, eating well probably isn’t high on your list of priorities. Betcha don’t want to move around a lot either!
(I’m too tired to really cook, and I desperately just want to be left alone to eat cookies and drink tea.)
Help your body prepare to have a baby and then heal from having a baby by making sure you are drinking a TON of water, taking a good prenatal/postnatal supplement (your body heals faster with vitamins and minerals readily available believe it or not), and staying as active as possible.
Make time to get a massage or maybe a pedicure, read a book, visit a friend. Just do a few fun things, and enjoy yourself.
Whatever you do, MAKE SURE you get a haircut. Even if it’s just a trim for split ends. Then you can not think about it again for 3-4 months.
These things will all be taking a back seat in the coming months, and it’s nice to just enjoy a little bit of you time in the final weeks of your pregnancy!
What do you think are the most important things to do in the third trimester before baby arrives? Share your best tips for being prepared!