From the registry and nursery to medical appointments and hospital tours, there is so much to do during pregnancy.
While I tried to use my time wisely while pregnant, I missed out on getting a lot done because I simply didn’t know what to do. Here is the list of tips that will help you get the most out of your pregnancy and be ready for that little bundle of joy.
Keep receipts and leave tags on
Besides the outfit you are going to bring baby home in and a new newborn and 0-3-month onesies, leave the tags on everything else.
You have no idea how big baby will be. My first baby didn’t fit into newborn after a week. Since I left the tags on most of the newborn clothing, I was able to exchange it all for a bigger size.
I did this throughout the year because sometimes the items we were gifted or bought the size didn’t match the season. I was able to exchange or return to get items that would actually fit my baby during the right season.
Use packing cubes for your hospital bag
For the hospital bag, it is very smart to pack separately items you want for birth, items you need for your stay after birth, items for baby and items for your significant other.
At first I planned on using separate bags but then we had so much to bring into the hospital. So instead, I did some research on packing hacks and found these packing cubes.
They have been the BEST thing I have bought. Not only did it allow me to pack us all in one bag with everything separate and organized, but also I use it on every trip we take. It is great for family packing because I can easily pack both baby and toddler things into my bag along with my stuff and not have it be a complete mess.
Have your shower theme match the baby’s nursery
My friend did this and I thought it was ingenious. Her theme for her nursery was mermaid. She didn’t have to spend any money on décor for the shower that she would throw away at the end.
Instead, she picked out decorations that could be used in her nursery and it really was beautiful. Additionally, everyone knew her theme. She got so many creative homemade gifts at her baby shower, all in the theme she wanted because it was very clear how she planned to decorate her nursery.
Other great tips for your shower is
- to set up a 529 account for baby so guests can donate to their college fund as a gift
- to ask for a board book instead of a card
- to ask someone to take photos so you don’t have to worry about capturing everything
Pick the nursery theme you love
Besides the actual crib, diaper changing pad, and nursing chair. I didn’t reuse the “nursery” for my second child. My first child kept using all the decorative pieces since she was still a toddler when my second arrived.
I spent so much time trying to come up with a nursery theme that could be gender neutral and reused. I wish I had just gone with what I loved the most.
Make a will to keep your kids out of foster care
This is very boring and not as exciting as decorating the nursery, but it is very important. If you do not appoint a guardian for your child if something were to happen, then the courts decide. While the courts are deciding (which could take months), your child would go into foster care.
Seriously, take the time while pregnant and make that will. Sure, it is rare that you will need it but don’t take that risk. You only need to do it once. While you are at it, update life and disability insurance.
Get a good sunblock because your skin is extra sensitive
Everyone told me to get a good belly cream and I did. I got the Burt’s Bees belly cream, applied it daily and while I will never know if it worked, I came out of both my pregnancies with zero stretch marks.
However, what no told me was that your skin changes in other ways too. For example, your skin becomes extra sensitive to the sun and if you aren’t protecting it then you can really age and damage it.
So you want to find a good sunscreen that you like wearing and are wearing every time you go outside. You could also invest in one of those cute summer hats for extra protection.
Buy a notebook for all those questions
During my first pregnancy, I never knew what to ask since everything was so new to me. The internet is filled with planners and printables you can buy to get lists of questions to ask. Everything from your midwife or OB and on your hospital tour to your pediatrician, lactation consultant and childcare tours.
Save your money and don’t pay for these printables. Instead buy a notebook next time you are at the store. This is your pregnancy notebook and it will be the best $5 buck purchase you make. Everytime a question pops in your head, write it down. Every time before going to an appointment or a tour, google “questions to ask during…” and write down the questions that apply to you or you want to ask.
This is the best way to really get all your questions answered and stay organized. I also had a section in my notebook for all of my to-do lists during pregnancy.
Buy maternity staples that double as postpartum wear
Maternity clothing can be expensive. You also will not want to wear it postpartum. So instead of buying strictly maternity wear during your second trimester, just size up in normal clothing. I grabbed a lot of shirts that would be good for breastfeeding (you don’t need to buy expensive nursing shirts either). Look for stretchy tank tops that you could layer with a sweater or jacket and some maternity leggings. V-necks and button on the front are also good.
Don’t want to do the shopping yourself? Use a clothing subscription box like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, or Le Tote and leave a note for the stylist.
Sign up for a class to meet new moms-to-be
The best way to meet other soon-to-be new moms is to find some sort of pregnancy class. Our midwife practice paired moms-to-be up based on their due dates and every Thursday we would all meet up. It was amazing to have that support and friendship during pregnancy and postpartum.
If your office doesn’t have something like that, then take a birth, baby or breastfeeding class. I know there are a lot of online versions of these classes but then you don’t get to meet other new moms in your community. You can also sign up for something like pregnancy yoga.
Another option is new mom groups at either the OB/midwife practice or your pediatrician office. If you plan to breastfeed, then look into local breastfeeding support groups. I did one that met every Wednesday and it was a place to discuss with new moms and get help from a lactation consultant.
I made some great friends this way especially because we were all in it together and could really relate to each other.
Look into different work options even if you plan to go back to work
After you know what your maternity leave policy is, you want to start comparing numbers. Depending on how much you make and how much daycare is in your area, you might want to consider other work options.
For instance, my friend who was an elementary teacher was better off working for VIP Kid from home for two hours every morning before baby wakes up. She makes more this way than staying at her old job and sending her child to daycare.
Also, you might decide once baby arrives that you really want to take longer off and spend more time home with baby. By looking into options and comparing numbers now, you will be set to make that change if you want to.
Join mom Facebook groups and follow libraries and kid places
Facebook is really useful as a mom. I follow our local library and have joined numerous baby, breastfeeding, parenting and mom groups.
Be sure to look for your local mom group and join them now. A lot of moms use this as a place to post free baby and kid items. It is also a great way to see what other moms are going through and see what solutions the group gives. You can also post yourself.
My favorite groups as a parent is Hand in Hand parenting and Janet Lansbury Elevating Childcare.
Start garage sale-ing using craigslist
I didn’t know that people post their local garage sales on Craigslist. Now in the summer, I check it before the weekend hits to see if any are relevant. We have gotten some amazing toys and kid items this way that we would have never been able to afford.
The great part is because kids go through things so fast, it is almost always in good condition.
Decide if you want to wait on sharing the name
My friend decided to wait to share the name after baby was born. She named her baby after her grandma who passed away. She waited to tell anyone until her grandfather came to meet the baby. She told him when he held her for the first time.
If you plan on naming baby after someone and want to make it a special moment when you tell them then you could wait to share the name.
We decided to wait until after baby was born to share the name. I personally liked that idea because I alone chose the name. No one gave me opinions on my name choices because I decided to keep it private.
No matter what you pick, it is worth thinking it over.
Do a “day” babymoon as an alternative to a big vacation babymoon
I had this idea that we had to go somewhere and have a big vacation. If your budget allows, then do it. If not, still take a trip.
Do something memorable because even just taking a trip a few hours away to a lake, a waterfall or a national park will be hard after baby. Even if it is a day spent together full of fun activities, you won’t regret it.
I wish I read more baby sleep books
I was so focused on trying to get everything ready for baby such as the nursery when in reality reading baby sleep books would have been better.
Baby sleep will be one of the biggest challenges for new moms. Reading tips and learning more about baby sleep cycles, needs etc. would have made my first few months as a mom so much better.
Buy an extra car seat base
Most infant car seats come with a click in base. If you have two cars or know someone else like a grandparent will be driving baby around such as to and from daycare, then grab an extra base.
Therefore, you only need one car seat that stays with baby and everyone has a base in their car. My friends who had multiple people help with baby said this was a life saver.
Have a mindset that birth is unpredictable
Birth is unpredictable. However, making a birth plan gives this idea that you get to plan and decide how birth goes.
I know too many women who feel like they “failed” because they didn’t have the birth they wanted. That isn’t how you should feel and it will steal some of your joy that you should be having with that new baby.
For me, the actual labor and delivery part was nothing like how I wanted it to go. I was sad about that for a long time but I learned to be okay with that.
The second time I gave birth, I expected the unpredictable part. It was perfect because I didn’t have these rigid expectations. It was perfect because it was a journey where in the end I got to me my baby. And I wish I had that viewpoint the first time around.
Instead use the birth plan to learn what you can expect during birth and as a way to start thinking about some decisions you will need to make.
Decide if a birth doula or a postpartum doula is right for you
If you are very adamant about having a certain type of birth, then explore the idea of a birth doula. Another great reason to have a birth doula is to have someone there to support you through birth. Typically, this person is usually your significant other. Now, I love my husband very much but this isn’t his strong suit. I really wish we had looked into a doula for that reason.
Also, remember nurses are there to support your medical needs. The amount of support and words of encouragement you will get from nurses will vary widely as shifts change. A doula will stay with you through the whole process.
A postpartum doula is someone who helps you at home with breastfeeding, taking care of baby, house chores, etc. If you don’t have family close by or your significant other can’t be home to help out, this might be a good fit for you.
Space out your visitors
That first week home is very intense. You are learning how to take care of baby, how to breastfeed. You are up every two hours all night every night to feed baby. You are also recovering from childbirth.
It can also be very lonely to not have adult interaction while home with a baby for week on end. Everyone wanted to come that first week. It was exhausting. Plus, with everyone holding baby all the time, she was nursed less and made up for it at night.
I wish besides immediate family and the quick hellos at the hospital; I didn’t have anyone visit until 3 weeks postpartum. After that, I wish I had stuck to one visitor a week.
Another point to consider when it comes to visitors is who will be helpful visitors and who will not. It might be easier to have a sip and see and group together visitors who you only want over for a quick visit.
Book a photographer, you won’t regret it
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get newborn photos. However, after looking at our photos over the first few days with our baby, I was very sure I wanted a photographer. Photographing newborns is very much an art. They are so tiny compared to you that it can be hard to get a good photo. Also, newborn photos like the ones where they curl up and sleep in a ball can only be taken in the first two weeks.
So spend sometime now finding a photographer who you like at a price you like. We ended up having to scramble. It was stressful but I am thankful we found a photographer who had time. By doing it earlier, I also think we could have found a more affordable one.
Also, you want to document this. It is the first time you are now a family of 3 (or whatever number fits your new family).
Figure out a photo storage system
Speaking of photography, you will also want to spend some time thinking about how you will store all of those photos you take on your phone. People say you photograph what you love. Totally true, I was taking around 20-30 pictures a day of baby.
I set up google photos on my phone so it would sync and allow me to clear up space when needed. Having my photos organized also allowed me to go through them every year and make a photo album that I would order through mixbook.com. My kids absolutely love looking at them.
How will you share photos with family?
I wanted to be able to share photos with grandparents and great grandparents who aren’t all on Facebook and aren’t all tech savvy. Our solution was to use an app called Cluster. I’m sure there are other photo sharing apps and you can also use google photos to share photos.
But basically, we spent some time picking the best way to share photos. Then we helped family members download it and showed them how to use it.
This also allowed us to share photos when our baby was born all at once instead of having to update everyone individually.
Pick out some fun family traditions
Now is a great time to search and prep some really fun family traditions. For instance, each Christmas we add our children’s handprints to the Christmas tree skirt and every birthday, we take a picture of our kids with the number of balloons matching their age. These types of things you will want to start with the first Christmas.
Or spend some time on how you want to capture your baby growing, maybe you want to do some fun monthly pictures?
Think about social media when announcing your child’s birth
I spent a lot of time on the birth plan and how I wanted everything to go. What I should have spent more time on is how the birth of our child would be announced.
After going through it all, I would not share any photos or posts on social media or even via text until after all immediate family has met baby. I wanted the first time they see their new grandchild to be in person.
I also would have loved to have told them the name in person when they met baby for the first time. That is such a wonderful moment and social media can steal some of that away.
Also, you can’t control what others do on social media. My friend’s dad posted the baby picture onto his Facebook before the other side of the family even knew baby was born.
So tell everyone beforehand what your social media rules are.
Get a 3rd trimester haircut
The best thing I did before my baby was born was to get a haircut that would style itself. It is literally what I asked for and my stylist delivered. It made me feel better postpartum. My hair would look good in every selfie I took with my baby even if I was up all night.
Additionally, it might be months after baby that you finally have time to get a haircut.
Upgrade your foundation
Due to hormonal changes, at some point you will get what is called the “mask of pregnancy.” This means dark splotchy spots on your face and already existing freckles and moles will darken.
For me, this happened near the end of my pregnancy. I should have changed my foundation for one with high coverage. While not necessary, I would have liked it for our newborn photos. You don’t always feel your most beautiful during that time and this would have helped me.
Meal prep, it will be worth it
I know this tip is everywhere but seriously, it will really help you get dinner on the table. Babies are their most fussy in the evening. By doing meal prep and having a stock pile of freezer meals ready to be thrown into the over or the crockpot, I could spend my evening nursing and soothing baby.
Also, getting to the store during those first weeks is hard. You will want someone else to go for you. By having dinners pre-prepped before baby, your grocery list will be much shorter.
Write a letter to your unborn baby
While pregnancy and baby books are great, I wanted to do something a little more sentimental. I saw this idea on a blog and loved the idea. I also write a letter to each of my kids every year. One day, I will give them their letters.
Another idea is to set up an email account for them. You can write to them whenever you want. Then one day, you give them the account and they have access to all of the letters you wrote to them over the years.
There are also a lot of apps that act as a baby book that you could look into if you don’t want to go the traditional route of an actual paper book. The advantage is you can load photos right into the app and some even have the option to eventually print into a real book.
Buy some good water bottles
I was not prepared for how thirsty I was breastfeeding. Invest in a few good water bottles that can be stored in your fridge ready to go. Just make sure to grab one before you sit down to breastfeed. Drinking water every time you nurse baby will really help you keep a good milk supply as water is a big part of breastmilk.
Buy them now and increase your water intake during pregnancy.
Make movable diaper stations
I spent so much time setting up a diaper station in the nursery. It was such a waste of time because you change baby wherever you are. You aren’t going to be running the stairs to change them.
It is so much better if you spend your time and money getting supplies for two moveable stations. Grab two changing pads, two changing caddies filled with diapers supplies and place one on each floor of the house.
Declutter and deep clean the house
It will be a long time before you can dedicate uninterrupted hours to your house again. So now is the time to really clean it. Honestly, I wish I had hired someone to do a really thorough deep clean before baby.
With baby comes a lot of stuff, they need so much during that first year. Even just making space to store all of those different clothing sizes is a lot. You will thank me later for telling you to purge and get rid of stuff. You will want that space and right now you have the time to actually go through it all.
Buy a backpack diaper bag not a messenger bag
It is near impossible to carry a messenger styled diaper bag around with baby. Every time you reach down, the bag will fall. Additionally, once that baby is a tot, you need both hands free to run, grab and chase them.
I got a messenger diaper bag for my shower and I tried so hard to make it work. I finally gave up and got a backpack one. This made such a difference that I included this as one of my tips for your baby registry. I should have done that from day one.
Stock the house
Once baby arrives, you want to go to the store as little as possible. Make your lists as short as possible by stocking up on household items now.
Here are some ideas:
- toilet paper and paper towels
- skincare and hair products
- cleaning products
- pantry items
Prep your relationship for baby
Having a baby can be tough on your marriage. Since kids, I have found good communication is key. Get a head start on communication by doing weekly coffee dates or dinner dates. I have also found that when food is involved, it is much easier for my husband to have a conversation.
I did most of the reading and prepping for baby and I was okay with that as long as I got to share. So it was a time for me to share what I was learning and for us to get on the same page and decide what would work for us.
We would pick a topic and share our thoughts and feelings on it. It could be anything from birth, picking a daycare, deciding on a pediatrician and having a newborn to the type of parents we want to be. To get a good conversation going, we would start with questions like biggest fears and tops goals on a subject.
It was also a great time to talk about our own upbringing and what we hope to continue and things we wanted to do differently than our parents. What roles do we see ourselves having and what roles we want extended family to have in our child’s life. Once baby arrives, it is hard to find time to connect like this so take advantage of the opportunity now.
Have a you day
Mom life is awesome and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But at the same time it is exhausting and I rarely get time to myself.
So spend a day doing you things. Go get your nails and hair done. Spend hours at a coffee house enjoying a hot drink and a good book. Book a lunch date with some girlfriends.
Take some time to enjoy being you because once you are a mom you will never just be you again.
Lastly, if you are still pregnant, go on a due-date date.
When your due date shows up, the last thing you want to feel is sad that baby didn’t arrive yet. Instead, celebrate that you have made it to your due date. You will meet baby very soon so go on a date and enjoy it. Life is about to change a lot and who knows the next time you two will get a chance to go out on a date night again.
Pursue your pregnancy Today
Pregnancy is filled with excitement, nerves, morning sickness, aches and a whole lot of questions and to-do lists!
You want to be ready for that little baby so that when the day finally arrives, you can spend your time holding and enjoying your little one instead of trying to get stuff done. Additionally, there are a lot of things you will want to be doing during pregnancy so that you are taking care of yourself.
I hope by providing 40 tips for 40 weeks of pregnancy, I can help you find ways to be more productive during your pregnancy.