Before your baby arrives, there is a long checklist of things that need to be done.
In addition to packing that hospital bag, here are some things to do before your baby arrives that will both ease your mind now and make the newborn period a little easier.
The third trimester can also be tough especially towards the end so we also need to talk about making sure that you, mama, are taken care of! So I have included some tips that will help you get through the 3rd trimester at the end of this post.
Prepare some freezer meals
This is helpful both for now and later. Cooking is a great way to get on your feet and add gentle movement into your day, which helps prepare your body for birth and promotes labor by moving baby’s head down in the birth canal.
Some meals are easy to make in bulk. Try making big batches of meals that you can freeze portions of, which you can then pop in the oven or Instant Pot for quick dinners after baby arrives. I froze some extra portions of our dinners when I was 37 weeks pregnant, and I was so glad that I did a few weeks later when I was recovering from an unplanned c-section and too busy taking care of a newborn to cook.
Take an inventory of baby items
Which must-have items are left on your baby registry?
While you might be able to wait on older baby items like a highchair, you’ll want to make sure you are well stocked on the newborn essentials before baby arrives.
Try to avoid emergency diaper runs by checking your stock ahead of time. Also, don’t forgot to install the car seat and take some time to get familiar with how to use it.
Get to know your breast pump
Don’t let your pump sit in its box until after you come home from the hospital.
It would be very stressful to try to figure out how to use it when your breasts are overfull and your baby is crying, so practice putting it together and taking it apart before baby arrives. This way there won’t be any surprises when you do need to reach for the pump the first time.
Better yet, bring the pump with you to the hospital and ask the lactation consultant to help you use it for the first time.
Set up your breastfeeding/pumping station
Claim your territory before baby even arrives — you’re going to be spending a lot of time there.
You’ll need a comfy chair and an end table for drinks, snacks, your breast pump, reading material, and/or your Netflix-watching device (we’re not all scholars — no judgment!). Set up a place to feed baby that is cozy, but not so cozy that you’ll fall asleep while breastfeeding your newborn.
Although some women prefer doing nighttime feeds in bed (especially as baby gets older and feedings get quicker), try setting up a breastfeeding station in a room that you don’t associate with sleep to make things safer in the sleep-deprived early days.
Talk to your employer
If you are taking maternity leave, make sure you know exactly where you stand at work. Talk to both your supervisor and HR about
- When will you be going out on leave?
- When will you be expected back?
- How will you be compensated?
- When you come back to work?
- Where and when will you take pumping breaks?
Make sure you have a plan by sometime early in the third trimester, so if your baby decides to arrive a few weeks early you won’t be scrambling to make arrangements at work. These can sometimes be stressful conversations depending how supportive your employer is, but it’s important to give yourself enough time to explore all of your options.
Choose a primary care provider for your baby
Whether it’s your own family practice provider or a pediatrician, it’s time to start thinking about where your baby will go for check-ups and medical care. Ask family and friends for recommendations or do some research online.
When you decide on a provider, give their office a call to make sure they are accepting new patients, and do any pre-registration that might be necessary. Let them know your due date so that they know when to expect your baby to come in for the newborn visit. However, it still is important to give the office a call before leaving the hospital to schedule the actual appointment.
Pillows are your friend
Sleep can get more and more difficult as your pregnancy goes on, between waking up to run to the bathroom constantly and struggling to find a comfortable position to sleep in. It’s also not safe to sleep flat on your back or on your tummy during the 3rd trimester, so it’s time for all non-side-sleepers to get creative.
If you have a pregnancy pillow, it’s about to become your best friend. If you don’t feel like investing in one, a big pile of regular ol’ pillows will also do the trick. To be honest, I would still sleep with my pregnancy pillow every night if I could, but unfortunately my husband has kicked it out of the bed as it took up 3/4 of his space too (oops, my bad!).
Find a Comfortable Position
You have your giant pile of pillows, so now what?
As you lay on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees, a pillow under your belly, a pillow in front of you to rest your arms on, and, of course, a pillow under your head. Use as many pillows as you need to be comfortable and focus on keeping your head, shoulders, and hips all in alignment.
Finding a good, supportive sleep position may not help with your need to pee every hour, but it will help prevent aches and pains.
Take warm Epsom salt baths or go swimming
The last trimester of pregnancy can come with lots of aches, pains, discomforts, and stressors. Swimming or taking a bath is a great method of stress relief.
Swimming is a wonderful low impact exercise for pregnancy because the buoyancy of the water takes pressure off your hips and back and may relieve some pain and help with swelling. Warm water and Epsom salt baths also help soothe hemorrhoids, muscle aches, and pain.
Important Warning: Swim or bathe in cool or warm water under 100 degrees only, and do not take a hot bath or go in a hot tub. Once your water breaks, don’t go in the tub without calling your doctor or midwife first.
Give mindfulness a try
Mindfulness meditations may help decrease insomnia and anxiety, control pain and discomfort, and prepare you mentally and emotionally for the challenges of labor and parenthood. There are many different mindfulness apps and pregnancy-specific guided meditations available online, many of which are free.
Try doing an audio meditation each night before bed or whenever you feel overwhelmed.
Pursue your 3rd Trimester Today
Of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive checklist of things that need to be done during the 3rd trimester, and you should always check with your OB or midwife if you have any questions or concerns, but hopefully these tips can help decrease your stress, increase your comfort, and get you ahead on some of the to-dos that are often overlooked or forgotten during the last few weeks of your pregnancy. The 3rd trimester can be so challenging both physically and emotionally, but remember you are in the homestretch mama!
I’m a Registered Nurse and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, specializing in breastfeeding, pediatrics, obstetrics, and public health. I’m passionate about providing individualized, relationship-based care to help parents become the best that they can be and reach their infant feeding goals, all while navigating this amazing journey of motherhood myself!