As you entire your third trimester, you’ll likely feel the urge to do everything you can to prepare for baby. This urge is commonly known as “nesting.”
It makes sense that you would feel this instinct. Consider it your body’s natural way of helping you prepare for your new little baby.
Of course not all new moms experience the nesting phenomenon, and that’s perfectly okay too! Even if you don’t feel a particular urge to do anything, you’ll likely still be excited to get things prepared for your baby’s arrival.
Whether you’re nesting or not, it’s extremely helpful to have things ready before you go into labor. Being well prepared helps to reduce your stress and allows you to ease into motherhood a bit easier.
As you entire the home stretch of your pregnancy, here the things you should focus on as you get ready to meet your little one.
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Prepare For Baby In The Third Trimester
You’re in the home stretch, girl! Soon you will meet your new little baby.
You may find that it’s hard to wait for these last few weeks to pass. I know it was for me at times!
As you wait, a good way to pass the time is to work on your third trimester to do list. Don’t worry—if you don’t get everything done, I promise you’ll still be fine.
However, it can be very helpful to get as much preparation done ahead of time before you bring your baby home. The more prepared you are, the smoother things are likely to go.
Now, when new moms start nesting, it can easily get hard to know what’s important and what’s not. Nesting can drive moms to do all sorts of things we’d otherwise consider strange.
Cleaning baseboards, cleaning out areas our babies will never even see or be exposed to, organizing closets we hardly ever go into. You name it!
While it’s okay to follow some of your nesting instincts, here are the truly important things you should focus your energy on.
Finish second trimester to do list
First off, if you haven’t finished your second trimester to do list, now is the time to do that. You may even find that you have a few unfinished first trimester to do’s to complete as well.
Be sure to finish those tasks off as well before you dive into the third trimester to do’s.
Don’t worry—it’s common to forget a few things, or even leave deliberately leave them for later on in your pregnancy.
Just keep doing your best to complete what you can when you can. Take advantage of times when you feel energized and motivated to prepare for your baby. Just be careful to not overdo it!
Take maternity photos
If you haven’t already, early on in your third trimester is the best time to take maternity photos. Usually late in the second trimester or early third trimester is the best time for this.
You want your bump to be big enough, but you also to schedule it for when you still feel pretty good.
Towards the end of pregnancy, it’s common to feel huge (even if you look awesome—and you do!) and uncomfortable. Taking photos a bit earlier can help avoid the need to endure a photo session when you really don’t feel like it.
It also helps to do it earlier in case your baby does came early, although this is uncommon for first time moms.
If you’re unsure of whether you want to do maternity photos, I’d encourage you to do it. I didn’t when I was pregnant with Elijah, and now I wish I had. It would have been nice to have had a few professional photos of that time, even if I didn’t particularly enjoy the pregnancy experience.
Finish birth plan
If you haven’t started working on your birth plan, now is the time to do so! As you near the home stretch, it’s a good idea to think about how you’d like your ideal birth experience to go.
Of course, do keep in mind that your birth plan is the ideal situation, and really more preference than something set in stone.
It’s very important to go into birth with an open mind, knowing that things change quickly in the moment.
Complications can arise that you didn’t expect. Or you may find that things you thought you would want to do is the farthest from what you want when labor actually comes.
The point is, birth is a fluid experience and no one knows exactly what will happen until it does.
That said, it’s still perfectly okay to write down your preferences in your birth plan. Even though things can change, it’s good to have an idea of how you’d like to labor.
Birth plans are also a good way to communicate these desires with your birth team. Especially your after birth wishes!
As you delivery your baby and recover immediately after, your room can be a very busy place. Having your wishes written ahead of time can help any miscommunication from happening.
With an open mind, it’s a great way to prepare for your baby.
Finish birth & newborn classes
I usually recommend starting birth and newborn education classes in the second trimester to give you plenty of time to go through it. Then, you can review the materiel in your third trimester.
Of course, if you haven’t taken a birth class yet, now is the time to do that! Of all the things to do to prepare for a baby, birth education is one of the most important, along with a good newborn class.
Personally, I highly recommend taking Mommy Labor Nurse’s birth class Birth It Up. In my opinion, this is one of the best online birth classes available.
You’ll learn everything you need to know about labor and delivery, whether you plan to have a natural (no epidural) birth or intend to get an epidural.
The class with leave you informed and empowered for the birth experience you want. And you’ll have access to it forever!
In addition to a birth class, I also highly recommend taking a newborn class. A newborn class with teach you need to know about caring for your new baby. It’s one of the best ways to prepare to care for your baby!
I love Mommy Labor Nurse’s Newborn Basics 101 class for this! Just like her birth classes, you’ll finish informed and ready to care for your baby with lifetime access to review information at any time.
I didn’t take a newborn class when I was pregnant with Elijah, and I remember feeling a little clueless after his birth. At that point, I hadn’t even changed a diaper before.
Unfortunately, I had a pretty steep learning curve, but you don’t have to. By taking a newborn class, you can enter into motherhood feeling confident.
Early in the third trimester is the perfect time to have a baby shower. By the third trimester, you’ll likely have your baby registry completed and know how you want to set up your nursery.
Traditionally, baby showers are thrown for you by family or friends. However, it is becoming more common and acceptable to throw your own baby shower if you desire.
Either way, a baby shower is a great way to allow your family and friends to “shower” you and your little one with love and gifts.
It’s generally a good idea to hold off on buying a lot of baby items until after your baby shower. You’ll likely find that you receive a lot of what you need at your shower.
Buy remaining baby items
After you’ve had your baby shower, it’s time to buy the remaining baby items you’ll need.
If you set your registry up through Amazon, you can expect to receive up to a 15% discount as a Prime Member (10% if not). This is a really great way to save money on your remaining items!
I wouldn’t put off this task too long. It’s easy to lose track of time, and you don’t want to be rushed the last few weeks of your pregnancy.
Set up & decorate nursery
Once you have your nursery furniture and baby items, it’s time to set up and prepare your dream nursery.
How you set it up will obviously depend on the space you have available. You might have a specific room to use, or if you’re in a smaller space such as an apartment you may find you need to make some adjustments.
Regardless of whether you have a whole room or just a corner, you have lots of options for decorating even if you are in renting.
The important part is to make sure you have key areas ready for baby. A sleeping area, changing station, and nursing area are all crucial parts of your nursery to have ready to go.
Make freezer meals & meal plan
One thing I wish I had done in my final trimester was meal plan and make freezer meals. I had a general idea of what we would eat, but no real plan.
The postpartum period, while beautiful in it’s own way, is difficult and presents numerous challenges for new moms. Figuring out meals is not something you want to have to do after having a baby.
Making a meal plan and preparing ahead of time for at least a few weeks will drastically help you as you transition into motherhood. It’s important that you eat healthily and regularly, both for your own healing and to support breastfeeding (if you choose to do so).
Freezer meals are one way to simplify meals. Freezer meals typically allow you to put all the ingredients into a Ziploc bag and freeze it until needed. The night before, put it into the fridge to thaw, then cook it the next day.
Most freezer meals can be cooked in a slow cooker, making it very easy to make and cleanup.
Make childcare arrangements for birth (+1 kids)
If this is not your first child, you’ll want to make childcare arrangements for during your labor and delivery.
It’s a good idea to get a trusted friend or family member, or a babysitter, to watch your other children while you’re in labor.
While some may want their children near while they give birth, you never know exactly how your birth will go. Even if you plan to have them there, it’s good to have a backup plan in case of emergency.
When you make these arrangements, make sure whoever is watching them understands the nature of labor. Be sure that they can watch for your child(ren) for at least a whole day, up to three if possible.
No one wants a long labor, but sometimes it happens. You’ll also want to pack a bag for your kid(s) to have ready to go whenever you go into labor.
Buy postpartum items
Next up, you’ll want to put together a postpartum kit to help you through the healing process. This is another thing I didn’t do when I had Elijah, and I wish I had!
Healing postpartum, especially the first few weeks, is a hard process. Not only do you want to take it easy and rest as much as you can, you also want to make sure you’re properly taking care of yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to give yourself plenty of grace! Your body just went through the hardest thing it will likely every do.
It will take time, and a lot of it, for your body to recover and adjust to it’s new role. And it will take time for you to mentally recover and adjust as well.
The best thing you can do is to rest, especially during the first few weeks. Focus on bonding with your baby and allowing your body to heal.
Putting together a postpartum kit to help aid your body in healing is a great way to help yourself recover faster. Here are a few things you might include in your kit:
- Your favorite heavy pads
- Tucks pads
- Ice packs or pads
- Peri Bottle
- Witch Hazel Foam
- Postnatal Vitamin
- Sitz Bath & Sitz Salts
- A postnatal cookbook
Pack hospital bag
At least five weeks before your due date, you’ll want to pack a bag to take to the hospital with you. Packing it early is a good idea, just in case you go into early labor. You definitely want to be prepared!
Your hospital bag will hold everything you’ll need with you while at the hospital (or birthing center). Even if you plan to have a homebirth, I’d recommend packing a bag just in case you end up needing to transfer to a hospital.
In addition to a bag for yourself, you’ll also want to pack whatever your spouse or partner will need, as well as a going home outfit for baby. If you have other children, be sure to pack a bag for each of them if they are staying with someone else during your birth.
Don’t worry about packing a lot for your baby. The hospital will provide everything your baby needs during your stay. You really just need a going home outfit, car seat, and perhaps a pacifier if you plan to use one (this will probably not be provided).
While everyone’s preferences are different, here are a few things you should consider putting in your hospital bag:
- Comfortable, loose fitting clothes for the hospital and to go home in
- Non skid socks
- Phone and extra long charger
- Basic toiletries
- Nursing pads
- Snacks for your partner
- Change of clothes for partner
- Nursing pillow
- Chapstick (for labor)
- Anything you want during labor (music, scents, oils, etc)
- Your birth plan (with extra copies)
Pack diaper bag
While you probably won’t need a diaper bag at the actual hospital, it’s a good idea to have it packed and ready before it’s labor time.
If you want to take your diaper bag to the hospital with you, then definitely make sure you pack it when you pack your hospital bag.
Personally, I packed and brought a diaper bag, but I didn’t end up using anything in it except for the going home outfit, and a SwaddleMe swaddle blanket.
Whether you bring it or not is entirely up to you, of course! But even if you don’t bring it to the hospital, you’ll still want it ready to go beforehand.
Packing a diaper bag after you’ve brought baby home is not something you want to do. You’re far more likely to forget something important this way, and that can be incredibly frustrating.
You’re going to want your diaper bag for your baby’s first doctor appointment, which is usually about three days after birth, or after you’ve been discharged from the hospital.
Trust me, just pack it now. Make sure your diaper bag has the following essentials in it:
- Diapers and wipes
- Extra change of clothes (or two)
- Diaper baggies for dirty diapers
- Burp clothes
- Nursing cover
Install car seat
This is a task many new parents put off until the last minute. But trust me, you want to have your car seat installed well before your birth. This is not something you want to do while you’re in labor!
It’s important to have your car sea properly installed in your vehicle—the same vehicle you plan to leave the hospital in.
Car seats can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to them. Be sure to read your seat’s manual to be sure it’s properly installed.
Keep in mind that you will not be able to leave the hospital unless your car seat is properly installed.
When we left the hospital with Elijah, a nurse had to walk us out with him and ensure we had installed the car seat correctly. She also had to watch and make sure we had him properly buckled into it before we could leave.
If you’re not expecting it, it can be a bit nerve wracking to get your baby into a car seat for the first time.
Take the time to install your car seat long before you have to worry about it. Then, use a baby doll or stuffed animal to practice using it a few times until you get the hang of it.
Decide on a name
Honestly, this is probably the one of the hardest things you will do in preparation for your baby. Picking out a baby name can be difficult for many of us!
Be sure to work together with your spouse or partner as you come up with names, and ultimately decide on one.
Even if you know the gender of your baby, I recommend coming up with both a boy name and a girl name.
While sonograms and blood tests are fairly accurate at finding out your baby’s gender, sometimes it ends up being wrong. You don’t want to be surprised and not have an alternative name to use!
Pre-register at hospital
If you’re planning to give birth at a hospital, you’ll want to pre-register as soon as they will allow you. Usually you’ll make an appointment to pre-register within six weeks or so of your due date.
While you don’t have to pre-register, you’re going to want to. Filling out paperwork is not something you want to do while you’re in labor. Especially if you’re in the later stages of labor!
Pre-registering allows you to fill out most of the paperwork necessary for a hospital birth.
If you plan to use a birthing center, you may also be able to pre-register there as well.
Depending on your hospital, you can plan for this to take about an hour. Your OBGYN should be able to set you up with an appointment to do this.
Order breast pump through insurance
If you plan to breastfeed your baby, I highly recommend getting a breast pump through your insurance. Even if you plan to exclusively nurse, a breast pump is a good thing to have around in case you need it.
You never know when you might be separated for a while and need to pump, or when you might need to power pump to boost your supply.
At the very least, having a breast pump as a backup plan is a good thing to have as you prepare for your baby.
Under the affordable care act, most insurances are required to cover part or even the entire cost of a breast pump. It’s definitely worth looking into!
Decide on pediatrician & doula
As you continue getting ready for your little one’s arrival, take this time to begin looking for a pediatrician. Now is also a good time to decide on a doula, if you plan to have one during your labor and delivery.
While choosing a pediatrician may sound like a simple thing, it’s important to find one that supports your individual beliefs and preferences.
Does your chosen pediatrician support your choice to breastfeed or bottle feed? Is he/she willing to listen to any concerns you have and talk through it with you?
Above all else, you want to choose a pediatrician that works with you. The last thing you need is a doctor who bullies you into choices without adequately answering your concerns.
Remember, your child’s pediatrician works for you. If you find that the relationship is no longer working for you or your child, you can find a new one.
Check finances — set up auto pay
Have I mentioned how crazy those first few weeks feel as a new mom? The rush of hormones and lack of sleep make it easy to forget things.
One thing you don’t want to forget about, however, is your finances!
As you prepare for baby, make sure you set up autopay on any reoccurring bills you have. Make sure your budget is up to date and you have adequate funds available for any surprise baby things you might need.
It’s not the most fun pre-baby task, but it’s an important one you can’t afford to forget.
Prepare for labor
One important task to prepare for your baby is to also prepare for your labor and delivery experience. And there are lots of ways you can prepare for labor!
One way to prepare for labor is to take a good birth class (I recommend Birth It Up). A birth class will teach you everything you need to know about what to expect, how to handle pain management, and so much more.
Birth classes are also an excellent way to eliminate fear of labor! Many new moms have a sense of fear when it comes to their delivery, and it often stems from being uneducated about the process.
Another way to prepare for the arrival of your baby is to stretch and exercise regularly. Personally, I like to do Pilates with The Balanced Life, which is a great way to gain flexibility, mobility, and build strength all at the same time.
Frequent stretching and pelvic floor exercises can help you labor easier, and potentially lesson any tearing you may have.
Other easy ways to prepare for labor include drinking red raspberry leaf tea, practicing pain management techniques such as breathing, and mentally preparing yourself.
Take a hospital tour
Finally, it’s a good idea to take a tour of the hospital you plan to birth at. One of the biggest benefits of this is knowing what to expect, and where to go when you come in.
When you are in labor, the last thing you want to do is spend unnecessary time trying to figure out where to go. Touring the maternity ward will help you know where to go, and give you a chance to ask exactly where you should sign in upon arrival.
A hospital tour will also help you know what to expect when it’s go time. Fear is one of the greatest hinderances to labor progression, so anything you can do to instill confidence is a good thing.
You should be able to view one of the maternity rooms where you’ll be laboring, delivering, and recovering. You’ll also learn about standard procedures in the event of an emergency C-section.
Be sure to take this time to ask any questions you may have!
What’s on your third trimester to do list?
I know there’s so much to do in the third trimester to prepare for your baby, but it will be so worth it! Don’t stress out about it—you got this!
I’ve found it helpful to spend just a little time each day doing something to prepare. That way, it’s not such a huge task, and it gets done pretty quickly.
Don’t forget to grab a printable copy of the trimester to do lists! Is there anything you would add to it? What are you looking forward to doing the most as you prepare for baby?
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