Welcome to the third trimester, Mama! Can you believe you have made it this far? The third trimester is tough. You’re getting bigger by the day, labor is starting to feel more and more real, and the clock is ticking in terms of getting everything ready.
Let’s make these last 12 weeks really count. Too many mamas make the mistake of spending all of their final weeks making the nursery look pretty and reading about labor. While those are two totally worthwhile uses of time (in their own right), let’s make sure you’re super prepared.
This third trimester checklist will include everything you need to get ready before the big day, in all realms of life. We’ll focus on what is going to really make life easier once baby arrives and how to maximize your free time while in the third trimester.
Let’s get going, there are so many third trimester to dos!
Disclaimer: We may be compensated through the affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are our own. Read more here.
Prepare the Home during the Third Trimester
Declutter, Organize, Clean
Basically, it’s now or never. Okay, not ‘never’ but now or in a very long time. This is one of the best times in your life to harness your nesting instincts and really go all in on getting the house organized. Purge un-needed things, and get every drawer, closet and cabinet in tip top shape.
Yes, I’ve seen the quote about how baby doesn’t care how clean the house is…but trust me, you will. The easier and more streamlined you can make your life, the better. Learning how to take care of a baby is full of wonder, delight, and stress. Trust me and remove the unnecessary stress of clutter and grime now.
Perhaps you can schedule a day for a big “deep clean” of your house with the help of your partner or a loved one. Or maybe you want to focus on the organizational side and possibly even schedule a cleaning service to come a few times before your due date. Either way will get the job done.
Make meals for your freezer
This might’ve been the single best thing I did to prepare for life with a newborn. So much so, that when I have a pregnant friend or family member, I go with a very small gift instead of a larger one, and instead prep meals for them! They may not get it right away. But, when baby arrives, having healthy, real food options in the freezer that just need to be defrosted and eaten is life-saving!
I always get it done using Kelly’s Complete Freezer Cooking Bundle. In under 3 hours I can prep 14-20 delicious and healthy meals. If you are serious about getting your freezer stocked before baby, as you should be, this is the resource you need.
Don’t go at this task alone either. It’s the perfect baby prep activity to do with a well-intentioned in-law, girlfriend, or your partner. You’ll have a blast bonding and chatting while getting serious work done in the kitchen.
Stock up on non-perishables and household supplies
Yup. It’s time for the Costco run. Or wherever you like to stock up on household supplies. Do yourself a favor and get all of your weekly errands out of the way for a few months. Stock up on household supplies and non-perishable pantry items now.
You want to make sure you have things like: paper towels, napkins, paper plates and plastic utensils, crock pot liners (for even less clean-up when using those freezer meals), dish soap, dishwasher detergent, cleaning sprays, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, etc.
For the pantry, focus on easy to make foods, real ingredients, and healthy fats! You are going to be hungry as a breastfeeding mother. Adequate calorie intake and hydration are essential factors in establishing and maintaining a milk supply for exclusive breastfeeding. Set yourself up for success. Stock things like trail mix, bars, whole wheat pasta, rice and beans, oatmeal, granola, nut butters, and jelly. These kinds of things will keep you full and satisfied.
Prep a fridge stocking list or delegate the task
Your labor may come on slowly enough that you can get some errands done during the beginning early labor stage. Be organized for this by creating a grocery list now and stocking your fridge before you leave for the hospital. Alternatively, choose a loved one to delegate this task to. When you head to the hospital, I just know a trusted friend of family member would be thrilled to do a little food stocking and prep for you to return to after birth.
Prepare for Birth during the Third Trimester
No third trimester checklist would be complete without some info about preparing for birth. But a big takeaway I want you to have from this article? Don’t make the mistake of ONLY prepping for that event. Make sure all of these categories receive equal weight and attention. I’m saying that because I wish someone had told it to me J
If you are interested in getting more info on preparing for your perfect birth specifically, enroll in our FREE 6-day Birth Smart Course via our Bump Smart series.
Pack your hospital bag (and dad’s!)
You’ll want to start getting that hospital bag packed around week 30. It doesn’t need to be zipped up and in the car until week 37 (at the latest!). However, definitely start your packing list and reading hospital bag packing guides sooner rather than later. There’s a surprising amount of stuff you’ll need to gather and acquire.
Taking your time with packing will also mean you have a chance to order special extras like a pretty nursing robe and cami for after birth pictures, and an extra special going home outfit for baby, and don’t forget to drop the hint on a push present too!
Complete a childbirth class
Childbirth education is the single best way to give yourself confidence and empowerment as you approach birth. It is a GIANT unknown with so many variables in play. Do yourself a favor and take a class taught by an expert. You and your partner will be better equipped to handle your labor and delivery, however it unfolds. You’ll also have a better chance at succeeding with the birth you envision. It doesn’t have to be inconvenient either, because there are so many amazing online childbirth class options out there.
Hoping to achieve a natural birth? I might argue that a childbirth class is even more important for you if this is your goal. The Mama Natural Birth Course is the class you need to take. No other online resource will prepare you better or ensure you will realize your goal of a natural birth better than this one. In fact, it is the only online childbirth class available that is taught by a Certified Nurse Midwife! If you want to have a natural birth, this class is the golden ticket.
Create a birth plan
Creating a well-researched and thoughtful birth plan is an important part of preparing for birth in the third trimester. You’ll want to understand all of your pain coping options (both medical and not), immediate newborn care decisions, and special requests to maximize bonding and breastfeeding in the first hour.
Be sure to involve your partner in creating this plan. It’s important they know your birth wishes and goals so that they can better support and advocate for you. They will also feel more connected, involved and excited about pregnancy if you create the birth plan together.
Plan for visitors, labor updates, and birth announcements
Something I did not think much about was how we wanted to handle updating loved ones during labor and once N was born. I knew I wasn’t interested in having people in the hospital during labor, but beyond that, had no plan. Be intentional in your plan for visitors after birth. Consider the fact that you will be very tired, emotional, and consumed with your tiny human.
Another idea I wish I’d done? Pick one person to be your labor update contact. This person is then in charge of passing along any updates or news to predetermined VIPs. It means less texting and phone calls for your partner during labor, and a happier, more well-informed network of loved ones.
Download a contraction tracker app
Why did no one tell me to do this ahead of time?! Don’t wait until you’re in labor and trying to time contractions to ask your partner to download an app and ask you a million questions about which is best… (yes, I’m speaking from experience here) Go to the app store now, download a few with good ratings and become familiar with how they work. Full Term – Contraction Timer is one we used and liked.
Prepare to Breastfeed during the Third Trimester
Believe it or not, there is a lot you can do before baby arrives to make breastfeeding easier. It can be a challenge in the beginning for a lot of mothers. Breastfeeding takes a lot of determination and comes with a steep learning curve, but is so worth it! Use these third trimester checklist items to set yourself in the realm of breastfeeding now.
Create a nursing station and caddy
You want to make sure you have all of the right supplies in place for breastfeeding success. I recommend getting a cute basket or bag that can hold all of your nursing must-haves. This will make it easy to tote all of the nursing stuff around the house and between floors.
What should your nursing caddy contain?
- Nipple Cream
- Reusable Breast Pads
- Burp Cloths
- Insulated Water Bottle
- Snacks (a few bars or bag of trail mix is perfect)
And what about a nursing station?
- Nursing pillow, I loved my boppy
- Low lighting option (lots of mamas love using a salt lamp for nighttime feedings)
- Glider Chair
- Nursing Stool (it really does make a difference and work better than an ottoman!)
- Small end table to keep supplies/book/phone etc.
Get educated to succeed
I didn’t take the time to learn anything about breastfeeding until I actually started doing it. I really wish I had spent some time reading and learning about how milk production works, what baby’s latch should look like, how often to be nursing, and what cluster feeding was. Heck, I wish I had even known it was normal for baby to literally nurse all day long for some days.
Luckily, there are a lot of ways you can get started on this
- Enroll in our FREE Nurse Smart email course for expecting mothers
- Check out Kelly Mom, an amazing compendium of breastfeeding resources
- Invest in a breastfeeding resource to have at the ready, like our Breastfeeding Handbook or Simply Breastfeeding online video class.
Look into breastfeeding resources in your community
One of the single best things I did as a new mom was attend as many new mother and breastfeeding support groups as possible. Not only did it help me get the support and troubleshooting I needed, but I met other new moms who could empathize in real time with me.
Find out when and where these types of group meet in your community. A great place to start looking is the La Leche League Locator tool. You should also ask your provider at your next prenatal appointment because they probably have some information or a handout.
Find out what breastfeeding support is available at your hospital
As you are preparing for birth and breastfeeding, you want to make sure to make the most of your hospital stay after birth. One crucial item on that list? Spend as much time with the lactation consultant on staff as possible! Ask every question you can think of, and if you can’t think of questions, just ring them to come and watch you nurse. They are seriously like wizards! A lactation consultant will immediately spot any issues with latch, positioning, sucking, swallowing, you name it.
Include breastfeeding supplies in that hospital bag
As you are creating your packing list and gather items, be sure to throw in the things mentioned above. You’ll want to have nipple cream on hand right away. I wound up with an abrasion during N’s very first feed. Nipple cream was crucial to continuing with nursing through that initial discomfort.
Prepare Yourself during the Third Trimester
Being pregnant is hard work. The third trimester symptoms are uncomfortable and tough to manage. You may not be sleeping very well, and just might not be feeling your best. For these reasons, it’s important to find some time to simply focus on yourself!
Find time to de-stress and have a “you” day
This will look different for everyone. Ideally, you’ll find some time in each week from now until birth to enjoy some time alone and de-stressing. But life is busy, so even committing to one day will make a big difference.
Here are some ideas on how to spend some special alone time before birth:
- Book a prenatal massage
- Get a haircut! Even if it’s just a trim, it’ll be awhile until it feels easy to go get one again after birth
- Schedule a mani-pedi and bring a fun magazine or book along
- Go on a walk in nature, or a full on hike for the adventurous mamas out there
- Spend some time shopping at fun local baby boutique. You never know what you might find
- Browse for a book for baby and inscribe it with a special note
Treat yourself to some comfy nursing or postpartum wear
During your hospital stay and in the days and weeks after birth, you will appreciate having some comfy and pretty nursing or postpartum wear. Consider treating yourself to a Stitch Fix box. You can tell your stylist that postpartum and nursing clothes are what you’re looking for.
Write a letter to baby
I love the idea of writing a letter to baby while they are still in the womb. Trina and Cole write letters to their girls every year and plan to give them to their daughters when they become mothers. This is a wonderful tradition that you could start right now.
Learn about mental health after birth
When it comes to life as a new mom, don’t forget to prepare for the emotional and mental side of processing your birth. Learn about the red flags associated with postpartum depression and anxiety. Talk about them with your loved ones and partner so that they can be on the look out too.
Even if you haven’t been too active up until this point, it’s not too late to focus on toning the pelvic floor and other muscles to help you have an easier birth. Maybe simply adding a brisk walk to your routine a few times a week is all that seems manageable. Or maybe a prenatal fitness program that will really prepare you for birth is what your body is craving.
Erica Ziel’s Knocked Up Fitness can cater to you wherever you’re at in terms of physical shape and point in pregnancy. Any amount of fitness will help you during labor and delivery and in your recovery after birth.
Prep for your postpartum recovery
So many mamas focus on preparing for the event of birth but miss the boat on preparing for the recovery! Recovery from birth is no walk in the park, and there are a lot of items you’ll want to stock up on in preparation.
Achieve everything you need for recovery from a vaginal birth by creating your own postpartum care kit. The quick list? Make sure to have maternity pads, overnight pads, a peri-bottle (squirt bottle for washing yourself), witch hazel wipes, and ice packs for down there. You should also have some herbal sitz bath blends, and DIY padsicles on hand (yes, that’s a thing).
Prepare the Baby Stuff during the Third Trimester
Finish the nursery
Most mamas have their baby showers at some point in the third trimester. This is usually when you receive the bulk of your baby gear! Especially if you are a first time mom. After that point is the natural time to set-up and organize your nursery. As you are thinking through the details and setting up the various items you have received, remember to emphasize functionality and organization in addition to design.
I was so focused on the way the room layout looked that we literally had to rearrange furniture during our first week home with baby. Think through how far the nursing chair is from the sleeping space, where is the changing table in relationship to low lighting for night time? Are there outlets in a safe spot for the monitor that’s close enough to where they sleep? You get the idea 🙂
Do baby’s laundry and organize baby’s clothes
Ah! I remember this being so dang satisfying in my third trimester. One of my best friends came over and helped me un-tag and wash all of the adorable clothes I received and was given as hand-me downs. We sat and chatted while folding and organizing all the tiny things.
As you are doing this, go all in on baby clothes organization from the beginning. It really is best to get it all done at once. In short, you want to organize clothes by size and season. Within each size bin, further pare it down by clothing types (shirt, pants, PJs).
By doing it all from the start, and creating bins or boxes for each size range, any time you receive a gift or buy new clothes it’ll be easy to pop it into its correct category. This will mean less wasted clothes and never missing an outfit.
Purchase anything from your registry that you didn’t receive
While you’re doing all of the organization and setting up after the shower, it’s time to take stock of the registry. Look at what’s left and decide what is still essential, and what you can maybe live without. If you are planning a sip and see you can consider giving the registry info again for that event. Many people will want to bring a gift anyway!
Pack up the diaper bag
I totally should have done this! When you pack your hospital bag, it’s also a great time to get the diaper bag all packed and ready to go. That way you’ll have it for the ride home from the hospital and ready to grab when you’re scrambling to that first pediatrician appointment after you arrive home.
In addition to the obvious diapers and wipes, be sure to pack:
- 2-3 extra outfits for baby
- Ziplock bags for blowout clothes to go into
- Burp cloths
- Receiving blanket or warmer blanket (seasonally)
- Extra shirt for you (trust me)
- A tube of plain Vaseline for diaper rashes
Install the Car Seat
This is a third trimester checklist essential! You literally can’t leave the hospital if this isn’t done. We found it helpful to watch YouTube videos for our exact make and model carseat to ensure we were installing it correctly. You should also find out where you can get a car seat safety check done in your community. Usually, the fire station has special days each week or month for checks.
Set up and trial run your baby gear
Setting up various baby devices is a key to do during the third trimester. Having swings, bouncy seats, exercise mats, and rock and plays awaiting baby’s arrival will make your life so much easier. Make sure their safe sleep space in your room is ready to go, the nursery is finished off, changing spaces, etc.
While you’re at it, be sure to take out any baby carriers and figure out exactly how to use them. Do a practice run with getting your stroller in and out of the car. Learn how to click your car seat in and out, and adjust any fittings or harnesses.
Knowing how to use any and all of the baby gear will be key before bringing baby home.
Prepare your Relationship during the Third Trimester
Go on one last date night, or celebrate your due date
Taking the time to really connect with your partner during the final trimester is more important than ever. The more bonded and connected you two feel, the better you’ll be at approaching life as new parents. You’ll be more in sync and on the same team right from day one.
The best way to do this? Go on a special expecting date night, or just a regular night out in town. If you do not go into labor by the time your due date rolls around, be sure to celebrate that special and important day with a date too.
Discuss budget and how finances will change after baby
Hopefully by now you have already started to thinking through your maternity leave and made plan for your eventual return to work. If not, hop on that! Finding childcare can be a time consuming and challenging task.
In addition to that, try to work as a team to create a new monthly budget. Consider how much less money will be coming in while you are not at work. Think about added expenses associated with having a baby (diapering supplies, formula, medications, pediatric copays).
While you’re at it, why not explore some possible work from home options?
Trina and I were both able to have extended (and eventually, forever) maternity leaves with different solutions. I started teaching English online, and she started this blog! Additionally, there are options to do book keeping from home, tap into a creative skill, freelance writing and more. You might even be surprised at your own company’s willingness to let you do part-time work remotely. It never hurts to ask or explore the possibility.
Complete a DIY project or pick out a gift for baby
Patrick and I had so much fun working on project together for N. It was actually one of the main ways he was able to feel connected to the pregnancy and baby before she arrived. We upcycled a few pieces of furniture for her room and created a unique piece of art using vintage Winnie the Pooh prints and an old barn window.
Find your own fun DIY project for the nursery by browsing our Pinterest boards. Alternatively, make a special event out of going and shopping for a book, item or other gift for your newborn.
Plan for shifting responsibilities once baby arrives
There’s a lot you can talk about and discuss as you begin to prepare your relationship for a baby. One of the biggest changes to prepare for, is the responsibility shift. Mom’s attention will suddenly need to be almost 100% on your newborn. Breastfeeding, soothing, and caring for baby is a consuming task. Yes, dad will have his moments and certainly learn his own ways to bond with baby, but so much of it lies on mom due to breastfeeding.
Talking this through ahead of time and making sure you both understand the need for Dad to pick up other roles in the house will really help. Let him know the day to day things you currently do that he needs to be ready for. Streamline household tasks as much as possible now. Making freezer meals, stocking up on paper products, and taking care of all the errands you can will all help.
Other things not to forget in the third trimester
As I was putting together this third trimester checklist, there were some few remaining tasks that I couldn’t leave out, but didn’t necessarily fit in the categories above.
Send Thank You notes to your shower attendees
With the excitement of unpacking and setting up all of the wonderful shower gifts, it can be easy for this to slip your mind! Be sure to get Thank Yous out ASAP after the shower so that it’s not hanging over your head once baby arrives.
Consider planning a sip and see
A Sip and See is a nice event to have after baby is born. It’s an informal, open house type party where invitees can come and meet your newborn. The benefits of hosting a sip and see is that for one day you get all of your visitors out of the way. One day to have the house looking decent, and get dressed yourself. Instead of worrying about scheduling various visits through the first few weeks or months you can condense it all into one day.
While you can’t necessarily plan a date. You CAN do things like create a guest list, think through food, and other details. This will mean it’s a lot easier to actually make it happen after birth.
Finalize Baby’s name
Third trimester means it’s time to get serious about names. While I certainly have friends who’ve come home with a nameless baby (yes, really!), I do recommend trying to make your final pick 🙂 Looking for some inspiration? Find out how to pick the perfect name (and it’s not just a list).
Listen to your body
A bit vague, yes, but someone needs to remind you to do it. So why not put it on your to do list, officially. Now more than ever is the time to listen to your body’s cues. Stay hydrated, rest when you need to, and lift your legs up a little more often than usual. Getting more in tune with your body now will also help you achieve your birth goals and your presence as you begin breastfeeding.
Learn how to cope with third trimester symptoms
And on that note, I know the third trimester is uncomfortable. Learn more about common symptoms and ways I learned to cope with them. I also LOVE Mama Natural’s free weekly pregnancy series. It’s full of natural remedies and tips tailored to your specific week of pregnancy. Be sure to enroll, any extra info (especially free!) at this point is gold.
Go tackle your final trimester of to dos!
There you have it, the most complete list and descriptions of everything to get done in the third trimester of pregnancy. It’s a lot, I know. But take it on week by week. Strategize the list with checklists and planning sheets organizes by time and priority.
Want some help with this? The Nest Smart Planner is designed for 3rd trimester mamas. It will get you super organized and on track when it comes to the baby prep, plus organize and plan for birth too! With 140+ pages of printables, you can be sure we’ve thought of everything.
Anything I forgot? Please chime in below! I love to hear from readers <3
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Alli Wittbold is a wife, mama, blogger, and online teacher. She feels passionate about connecting expectant mothers with childbirth class educators, and supporting them to achieve the birth they desire. After having her first baby delivered by a Certified Nurse Midwife, Alli is an advocate for midwifery prenatal care. She has learned so much about labor and delivery by attending and reviewing dozens of birth classes to help mothers learn and explore options. Alli co-authored the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook, resources she is proud to share with as many expectant and new mothers as possible. Read more about Alli.