Expecting the baby soon? Make sure you have all your tasks covered! Cross off your third trimester to do list before the baby comes.
Ask any mom which trimester is the most difficult, and many of us will point to the third and final one. Because as worrisome or nauseating the first trimester can be, the third has its own set of challenges.
We’re bigger and less able to do the things we took for granted (who knew walking fast and sleeping on our backs were awesome?). We’re coming to terms with the reality of being a mom, and the fears of giving birth are becoming more real.
And it could be the overwhelming number of tasks we still need to do plus the doubt of how we’ll ever do them. The only thing holding us together is getting closer to meeting the baby.
Third trimester to do list before the baby arrives
If you feel stressed, you’re not alone. Here’s what to do in the third trimester for a normal delivery. Cover these steps, and you should be good to go.
I also excluded tasks that, while important, you likely already did in the other two trimesters. I want to focus instead on the tasks that you really can’t, shouldn’t, or don’t have to do until you’re much closer to your due date.
Here we go!
1. Find childcare
I’ll be honest: With both pregnancies, I didn’t finalize my childcare situation until weeks before returning to work. (With the twins, we had one week.)
Even if you’re not sure whether you’ll go back to work or what kind of childcare you’ll use, look into it now before you need it:
- Tour day cares and add yourself on wait lists
- Spread the word about hiring a nanny (check out mistakes to avoid when hiring one)
- Browse childcare websites and sign up for an account
- Ask family for childcare help
Part of feeling good about going back to work is knowing your baby is in good hands. The more confident you feel about your childcare provider, the better you’ll make the transition back to work.
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2. Review your maternity leave policy
Early in your pregnancy, you may not have had too much information to make definitive plans about work after delivery. Now that you’re nearing the end of it, begin finalizing your maternity leave.
Discuss when you plan to leave, as well as how much paid leave you can expect. Get details on how you’ll receive these payments (by check or directly into your bank account?) and whether you need to use vacation or sick time first.
You’ll also want to know next steps on adding your baby to your insurance policy, and what paperwork you need to submit (and to whom). Get an overview of your maternity leave early in your pregnancy, then get the details toward the end to help you feel better prepared.
3. Make a labor day game plan
Now is the time to make a labor day game plan so you know what to do when labor strikes.
Ask your doctor how many minutes apart your contractions should be before heading to the hospital. Decide what you and your partner will do if you’re not together when contractions happen or your water breaks.
These are the little details that may have seem too distant to think about but are now becoming more of a reality.
4. Install the car seat
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By far the most important gear, the car seat will need to be installed before the baby comes. While you can get away without a crib or changing table, the hospital won’t let you bring the baby home unless you have a car seat installed.
Ask your local highway patrol to double check your car seat, or find a specialist who will guide you how to install it on your particular car model. If you have a travel system with a stroller, practice locking and unlocking the seat from the base and onto the stroller.
5. Prepare freezer meals
I asked several readers about ideas on things to do to prepare for baby, and nearly everyone chimed in that preparing freezer meals is a must.
Because meals are pesky that way—even with no time to do anything, you still need to eat. Freezer meals are a convenient way to prepare food now while you still have time for the weeks and months when you don’t.
And making freezer meals is also helpful long after the baby arrives. They’ve come in handy after a long day with nothing left to cook or eat!
6. Wash the baby’s clothes
Your baby may be sensitive to brand new or even hand-me-down clothes. Toss them in the wash using a baby-safe detergent like Dreft before he comes. This includes the baby clothes you’ll take with you in your hospital bag.
Don’t forget to wash other items like bedding, blankets and stuffed animals. These can irritate his skin if not pre-washed.
7. Pack your hospital bag
Now that you’re closer to heading to the hospital, make sure your bag is ready to go. Include things your baby and partner might need as well! Keep a short list of items that can’t go in the bag until the day itself (for instance, your eyeglasses or wallet) so you know everything else is in there.
8. Stock household items
Running out of household items is the worst hassle during those newborn days. Take an inventory of your kitchen, toiletries, and other essentials and stock up now. You may not have the time nor the inclination to shop once the baby arrives.
9. Ask others to help
The newborn weeks and months are some of the most challenging for any parent. If you have family and friends who can visit, begin reaching out to recruit help during this time.
Find out when your parents can stay for an extended time, and ask friends and family to come on certain weekends. Decide who will take care of your older kids (and make plans for what to do if they’re not with you—at school, for instance).
And who will care for your pets, and what instructions do they have for feeding, walking, and grooming?
10. Assemble the nursery and essentials
With the baby arriving soon, assembling the nursery makes for a perfect third trimester project. Have someone piece large furniture together such as the crib, changing table, and bassinet. Fold and store the baby’s clothes and blankets into drawers or linen cabinets.
Then, if you’re using bottles, wash and sterilize all the parts. Do the same with pump parts if you’ll be pumping, and fill the changing station with diapers and wipes so they’re ready to go.
11. Prepare your older kids
By now, your older kids likely know something exciting is about to happen. But for those who haven’t welcomed a new sibling before, the change can feel overwhelming.
Set expectations without scaring them too much. Explain that:
- They’ll hear the baby cry a lot, but that’s how babies communicate and tell us what they need.
- You’ll be busy with the baby, and that sometimes they’ll have to wait a little longer than usual.
- They’ll likely see friends and family who want to help during this time.
Encourage them to play independently so they’ll have resources to turn to when you’re not available. And start being as consistent as possible with their routine so they have the predictability to rely on when the baby comes.
The new baby will be a huge change for your kids, but one they can welcome with open arms as well.
By the time the third trimester came, especially that last month, I was more than ready to not be pregnant anymore. The massive discomfort of carrying the baby erased any fears and anxieties I had about giving birth.
Plus, I felt better prepared to say goodbye to pregnancy and meet my little one. I was confident I had my maternity leave details covered, discussed with my husband our labor day game plan, and installed the car seat bases, ready to go.
It’s things like these that are best left to the third trimester, those weeks and months so close to meeting the baby. As difficult as the third trimester was, I felt ready crossing off the items on my pregnancy to do list.
All but the best one of all: meeting my baby, of course.
Get more tips:
- The Ultimate Mom to Be Guide: Everything I Wish Someone Had Told Me when I Was Pregnant
- Household Items to Stock Up Before Baby Arrives
- Postpartum Changes You Probably Didn’t Know
- 7 Baby Products I Wish I Had Known About
- How to Keep Up at Work During Pregnancy
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