As the time until your due date goes from months to weeks, to maybe even days, your mind might start to race a little. What else can I do to be more prepared for baby? How can I make these final weeks of the third trimester count? What might I have forgotten to do when it comes to preparing for birth and life with a newborn?
That’s where we come in! Here I’ve compiled a list of 17 things you truly may not have thought of. Maybe because as a first time mom, you just don’t know better, and that’s okay. Or maybe because when you’re wrapped up in logistics you need a mom friend to give you a reminder about some more sentimental preparations that can be made. And definitely because if you’ve never done this before, following the advice of other mamas is the ticket to an easier transition into motherhood.
Here you have it! 17 things you may have forgotten to do. Your third trimester checklist for the final weeks 🙂
Disclaimer: We may be compensated through the affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are our own. Read more here.
Before Birth Checklist
1. Take Maternity Photos
One of my biggest regrets from my first pregnancy? Not taking enough photos. Especially during the third trimester when I was really showing. Yes, we did do a maternity photoshoot, and I absolutely love those photos. But I’m talking about photos of you being pregnant in your everyday life. Take photos of you and your partner together, too. At the time, I remember thinking my face looked swollen, and not wanting to be in pictures. And now, I can’t believe I thought that way!
So take some extra maternity photos, even if you did a maternity shoot. And definitely take a photo before you head to the hospital or when you think labor is coming. It will be so cool to have one final pic of you with baby still in your belly.
2. Have a plan for baby’s first footprints!
This is one I know I totally missed the boat on. Yes, we have a copy of N’s footprints on hospital letter head, but it really isn’t the same. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. In the final weeks before birth find some time with your partner to get something to stamp baby’s footprints on.
Maybe it will just be a pretty piece of scrapbooking paper from a craft store, maybe it’s a baby book you’re looking forward to using. Perhaps something a bit less conventional. Cole and Trina have a baseball with L’s newborn footprints on it which I absolutely adore. Think of an item that is special or important to you or your partner and see if that might work.
Every version of the Nesting Planner, the ultimate pregnancy planning tool, includes a bonus Baby’s Birthday section. A keepsake for you to record baby’s birth stats, tell their birth story, and record other details and memories from baby’s birthday. We even include an extra pretty sheet meant for footprints. As a late third trimester mama, the Birth Smart Nesting Planner might be just what you need to get organized for birth in these final weeks.
3. A photography plan for birth and during your hospital stay
This is another item on the list born out of regret from my own first birth. Sensing a theme here? We have maybe 3 good photos from birth and our hospital stay. Next time around I’m definitely going to have more of a plan. I absolutely love professional hospital photography, and that may be something you want to look into. However, it can definitely be pricy.
Want to go the DIY route? I think it’s totally possible, you just need to be intentional about having a plan, or at least some inspiration. I helped Trina and Cole plan for their birth and hospital photography for the birth of their second daughter, C, simply using Pinterest. Browse professional hospital and birth photography and put together an inspiration board of photos you love. Look through it with your partner, and you’ll even have it handy while you’re in the hospital so that you can recreate some of the most loved shots and poses.
4. Stock your freezer
Okay, so this one might be one you’ve read or seen on other checklists, but I’m including it because it will be life-saving once you’re back home with a newborn. Take some time to prep healthy and easy crockpot meals for your freezer, and thank me later 😉 Kelly’s Complete Freezer Cooking Bundle has 100s of recipes that require no pre-cooking. Included in the bundle are meal plans and shopping lists to prep up to 30 meals at a time in just a few hours’ time. You’ve got this with her help, mama.
5. Finalize the plan for birth, but don’t forget about postpartum healing!
If you haven’t yet, do complete your birth plan, and take some extra time to research and understand the decisions you are making. We recommend giving some special thought and research into what standard newborn procedures after birth can be delayed. You’ll want to do this to emphasize one hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin and breastfeeding between you and your newborn immediately after birth.
Planning for a natural birth?
I also wanted this for my first birth, but I wasn’t able to achieve this on want alone. There’s still time though to give yourself a better shot! The Mama Natural Birth Course is the gold standard when it comes to learning everything you need to actually have your best and most natural birth. I truly think I will have success at a natural birth the second time around because I have watched her course.
And postpartum healing?
Don’t forget to stock up on postpartum supplies before baby comes. Create a postpartum care kit for each bathroom in your house. You’ll need things like maternity or overnight pads, witch hazel wipes, a squirt bottle to clean yourself, and perineal ice packs. For more info, read even more tips on preparing for your postpartum recovery.
6. Learn about the birth you don’t want…
According to the CDC statistics on birth from the year 2016, 31.9% of births in the U.S. were C-sections. I’m giving you that stat because it is essential that you read and learn about what to expect if you end up needing a C-section. Find out what it will be like, how it changes recovery, and how you can make the best decisions surrounding newborn care in the event of a c-section, too.
Things will be a little different, and it may not be your ideal, but preparing for the worst case scenario means it won’t be an unknown. You’ll have a plan and know you have made decisions for this scenario as well. By learning about C-sections ahead of time, you’ll have more confidence should things progress in a way that means a C-section is the safest option for you and baby.
7. Set up baby’s sleep space in your own room
As we prepare to bring baby home, the details and emphasis always goes into the nursery. It’s fun and exciting to organize and set up your nursery. Make sure you also have a safe sleep space set up for baby in your room. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends co-rooming (sleeping in the same room as your baby, in separate sleep spaces) for the first 6-12 months of life to reduce the risk of SIDS. Some great options for co-rooming are Pack and Plays, more traditional bassinets, or bed-side style bassinets/sleepers like this.
In addition to a safe sleep space in your room, it can be helpful to have a changing area and rocker/nursing station. This portable, folding changing station looks like it could be perfect for even the smallest space!
8. Try out the “extra” baby gear
Hopefully by this point you’ve got the bigger things in place. The crib and gliders are assembled, you set up swings and loungers, and even installed the car seat. But I want to urge you to try the extra gear out too. Things like packing up the diaper bag, figuring out how your baby carrier works, and even practicing opening and closing the stroller. All of these things are designed for ease of use, once you’ve got it down. Figure them out now while your frustration thresholds are nice and high 🙂
When it came to baby carries, I loved my Baby K’tan because it had the comfort of a cloth carrier but took the guess work out of one long piece of cloth. My husband on the other hand loved our Ergo 360, but needed some time to learn the proper positioning and adjustments to make it safe for baby right away with the infant insert.
9. Organize all the other sizes of baby clothes you received
The standard checklist tells you to get baby’s clothes organized, but why not take it step further by setting up an organization system for baby’s clothes through their entire first year? Basically, you want to create a box or bin for each size range through 12 months (or beyond if you have the space!) then within each bin, have category bags (large ziplocks work great). Organize clothes by size, season, and type of clothing. Want some more detailed info and other ideas? Read more baby clothes organization tips.
This will make switching out sizes a breeze and you’ll never miss wearing an outfit. I set up a system like this about a month after my daughter was born and have loved it since! Do yourself a favor and get it all ready to go now.
10. Make something special for baby
The bond you feel for your baby while they are growing inside of you for 9 months is like no other. You already love them beyond your wildest dreams. The attachment is so intense. You will love the activity of creating something just for them in these final weeks. What you decide on will be unique to you, but here are some ideas:
- Knit them a hat, sweater, blanket or booties
- Create a unique piece of art for their room (painting, collage, photos, or refinishing are all wonderful options)
- Pull out your sewing machine! Here the possibilities are endless: clothes, nursery décor, changing mat, burp clothes, blanket/quilt, etc.
- Create a scrapbook or photo album, or start a baby book
- Make a “familiar faces” book on a site like Shutterfly. Put pictures of extended family and loved ones. Someone did this for me at my shower, and it’s a book N has been fascinated by for over 2 years now.
11. Write a letter to baby before your due date
On a similar note, take some time write a letter to your baby too. You can’t really do this wrong. Write anything that you feel compelled to say, tell, or document for them. Make a plan for when to give this letter to them later in life. It may even be the start of a tradition. You might want to write letters to them every year for their birthday and give them the bundle when they turn 18 or start a family of their own someday.
12. Create a labor update and birth announcement plan
One aspect of labor and birth I didn’t think through was how to keep family updated. This might be especially true should your birth take an unforeseen turn and you want to update loved ones quickly. We recommend choosing one contact person who can be in charge of updating everyone else. A labor and delivery “phone tree” so to speak.
As for birth announcements?
Have a plan about who you want to tell directly, and at what point you want it on social media. My birth was unfortunately announced on social media by someone else before we were ready for it to be. Major bummer. Be direct and clear with people about your wishes surrounding birth announcements and social media. Don’t leave it to chance.
One last element to keep in mind? Browse and decide on possible birth announcement cards ahead of time. Then you simply have to add your desired photos, birth stats and click order in the few days after baby arrives.
13. Learn about ways to earn money from home
Within about a week of being home from the hospital, I already knew I had to find a way to stay at home with my baby longer. For us, that meant I needed to make a certain amount of money from home each month to make it a reality. I obsessed, and found a solution! I became an online English teacher, and you don’t previously have to be a teacher to do it. Trina had a similar experience, and landed on starting a blog (which I later joined).
Since then, we’ve done the legwork on finding as many work at home options that are perfect for stay at home moms as possible. You never know how much your life and career goals might change after having a baby. And it is possible to stay home, mom full time, and earn some money. We both do it, and you can too. The lesson here? Learn about your options now, so that you aren’t scrambling during your maternity leave.
14. Bake some treats for the nurses on staff
This is totally “extra” but is an idea that I just love. If you have a long early labor (like I did in my first birth), use some of the time to bake something to bring to the hospital. Early labor is a time for distraction techniques, and baking just might be the perfect task. Also, with a handful of health care professionals in my family, I can tell you that they love when patients and visitors think of them!
15. Learn (at least a little bit) about breastfeeding ahead of time
Breastfeeding is a learned behavior for mom and baby. I had notions of it being blissful and innate, when in fact that learning curve for both parties is pretty intense. Having a basic understanding of what to expect from breastfeeding in the first week, how milk supply works, and what to look for in a good latch, will go a long way!
We created a free breastfeeding email course designed especially for expected mamas. Why not enroll in our 5-day Nurse Smart Course today?
16. Have a plan for introducing baby to your pets
We did a bit of research and actually talked to our vet about this because we wanted to do this correctly. With two dogs at home, it felt important. The first step will be letting them sniff, spend time with, and be around all of the baby stuff. Let them go in the nursery and sniff around, and have swings and other things set up in advanced so that they can be used to the new presence.
I know that our dogs definitely got the sense that a change was coming, and that it was important to us (just by how much time we spent doing it all). It’s kind of like when you pack for a trip. Your dog or cat likely tries to curl up in the suit case or claims their spot in the car before you’ve even left. They just know.
Next, while you are in the hospital send something with baby’s scent home before you. A hat your newborn wears in the hospital, or a swaddle blanket are perfect. The last step will be more up to you. We decided to have our dominant-personality husky meet N outside. We let her sniff the car seat and baby in a neutral space and then brought them inside together with no issues.
17. Give yourself a reality check about expectations postpartum
Be kind to yourself. Growing and birthing a baby is hard work. Remind yourself to take it easy in the first few weeks after birth. Minimize plans for visitors and say yes to any and all offers from loved ones for help around the house, food, errand offers, etc. Focus on healing, breastfeeding, and bonding with your baby. Everything else can (and will!) wait.
Continue your baby prep in the final weeks
Now you’ve got 17 more ways to get prepared for baby. Create a list and timeline to prioritize getting these things done. Make note of forgotten details, or things that can wait a bit. If preparing for birth is starting to feel daunting in addition to all of these extra tasks, be sure to snag a copy of the Birth Smart Nesting Planner. It will have you totally organized on the birth front so that you can focus on other tasks.
Any other forgotten “to dos” that veteran moms might want to add? Or first time moms who’ve gotten some candid advice? 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.