Getting ready for your baby’s arrival? Don’t overlook a few tasks. Here’s a pregnancy checklist with things to do before the baby is born.
A few months. Maybe a few weeks. I was starting to panic because the baby would be here soon. I wasn’t sure I had everything in place, and I still had so many things to prepare.
My checklist seemed to be growing by the day, and I wasn’t sure what was truly important or not. It didn’t help that there seemed to be too much to do with so little time.
The arrival of any baby, whether our first or fifth, can get downright chaotic. With the baby at home, we have less sleep and more duties. Our regular routine and chores get pushed to the back, and we’re still healing from childbirth.
9 things to do before the baby is born
How do you decide what to put off and what’s essential?
You might already have a list miles long, overwhelmed with all the things you need to do. Or you haven’t even written anything down, and you’re starting to get frantic about not having everything organized.
Whether your list is ever-growing or hardly started, figuring out what to do before the baby comes is important. To get you started, I wrote the top nine things that will help make welcoming your baby much smoother than if you put them off (or don’t do them at all).
Take a look at these tasks you need to do before the big day:
1. Attend birth and first-aid classes
I had never held a baby or changed a diaper, much less given birth in the past. I also didn’t know what to do should an emergency strike and my baby needed medical care. That’s why one of the first things I did was sign up for birth, childcare, and first-aid classes.
The birthing class I took was a weeks-long program where the instructor gave tips on how to manage labor and delivery. The childcare and first-aid classes were each one-day workshops. I learned how to bathe a baby and change a diaper, for instance, and administer CPR.
While nothing can prepare you for being a first-time parent, learn as much as you can, including attending classes to help you with baby care. Most hospitals offer classes, from birth to first-aid to childcare. You’ll feel more confident with caring for your baby when you have information to rely on.
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2. Find your baby’s pediatrician
Your child’s first doctor’s appointment happens on his first day. His pediatrician will visit him in the hospital to examine and deem him healthy enough to go home. You’ll also schedule what seems like nonstop appointments for the next several days and weeks after to make sure he’s growing fine.
So, don’t leave finding your pediatrician to the last minute. The best place to look is through referrals. Ask your doctor for referrals, and double check these doctors are available on your insurance coverage.
Then, select a few to interview and visit. Call their offices and ask to spend a few minutes to speak with the pediatrician and learn more about her. Choosing a pediatrician now will avoid the chaos of finding one at the last minute.
3. Buy and install the carseat
The most important baby gear is, by far, the car seat. You can’t drive off from the hospital without one. Many stores offer huge discounts on carseats, so you can even time your purchase to when they hold a sale or offer a coupon.
After you buy the carseat, learn how to install it properly in your car as well as how to securely and safely strap your baby in.
My husband and I hired someone who taught us how to install our particular carseats into our car models. You can also ask your state highway patrol to check if you installed the carseat correctly.
4. Get your maternity leave paperwork processed
I must have met with our HR staff a million times to understand the whole maternity leave process. Start early to get familiar with deadlines, payments, and requirements. Ask important questions, like:
- Am I eligible for the Family Medical Rights Leave Act (FMLA)?
- Does my state offer any Paid Family Leave or State Disability Leave?
- Does the company have a maternity leave policy?
- Who will be paying me during maternity leave? How will I receive my pay?
- What percentage of pay will I receive, and for which weeks?
- Do I need to use vacation or sick time? How many vacation or sick days do I have left?
- Will I continue to accrue vacation hours while on maternity leave? Will I continue to have benefits while on maternity leave?
- Will I continue to pay the premium while on leave? If so, how will I make payments?
- How will my maternity leave affect performance reviews and raises?
- When should I add the baby to my insurance policy?
- What happens if complications arise and I need to take more time off?
5. Order or make your baby announcements
Back when I had more time, I used to make handmade cards, and our baby announcements were no different. About a month or two before I was due, I pre-made the cards, with only the baby photo and the birth details to fill in.
If you plan to make your own announcements, gather your materials or look online for the ones you want to order. If you’re ordering templates, choose which ones you’d like to send so that it’s just a matter of adding the photo and the baby’s info.
Come baby’s arrival, you can send these out much quicker and with less stress.
6. Get maternity clothes
In the early stages of pregnancy, you won’t need maternity clothes just yet. For now, begin to gather clothes that fit you loose or are a little larger. They’ll help tide you over until you outgrow them into maternity clothes.
Once you’re ready for maternity clothes, choose your current size. For instance, if you typically wear a medium, you’ll want to get a medium as well in maternity clothes.
That said, you can also size up, especially for tops. I found that some maternity tops fit well in the earlier stages of pregnancy but not so much during those last few months. Better yet, stick to loose tops instead of tight and hugging ones, as those tend to be more versatile.
Finally, don’t get rid of your maternity clothes once you deliver. After giving birth, you’ll shrink down to what you looked like when you were six months pregnant (not your pre-pregnancy size). As you get slimmer, pull out your bigger, non-maternity clothes as you transition back into your regular ones.
7. Wash the baby’s clothes
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Wash several of your newborn baby clothes before he arrives. You’ll want to dress him in clean clothes in case he has sensitive skin or allergies. This includes both store-bought clothes as well as hand-me-downs. And use a detergent specifically for babies, such as Dreft, or organic brands.
At the same time, don’t wash everything in case you don’t want or need them and would rather return them to the store.
Wash the crib sheets, changing pad covers, blankets, burp cloths, and spit rags as well. You’ll wash these items with a baby-safe detergent until he’s one-year-old.
8. Prepare the nursery
Get the baby’s room ready before he arrives! Start with the basics and order the crib and changing table. If you plan to paint the room, do so before assembling the furniture. Once you have the crib and changing table, get everything else ready:
Other non-essentials but good-to-have include:
9. Take a hospital tour
Schedule a tour of the hospital you plan to give birth in so you’re familiar with where to go come delivery time. The staff will go over the typical process, from where you temporarily park to checking in at triage. You’ll see which rooms you’d likely give birth in, as well as the ones you’ll rest and recover.
And get familiar with different driving routes to the hospital. Rush hour or construction detours can throw you off!
Imagine constant pumping and not sleeping through the night. A baby crying inconsolably, and feeling too tired to do anything. Those first few weeks and months can be some of the most hectic. Get things in order now before the baby’s arrival to make the big day less stressful and more enjoyable.
Attend classes to get familiar with caring for a baby, and find and interview pediatricians. Buy and install the carseat correctly, and get your maternity leave paperwork organized. Order baby announcements, and start looking for maternity clothes to get you through these next few months.
Prepare the nursery and other baby items, and wash the baby’s clothes and any sheets and blankets you’ll use. And finally, take a tour of the hospital so you’re familiar with it come labor time.
Your baby will be here soon—if not in a matter of months, then perhaps weeks. But now you know what to do in the meantime to prepare for his big arrival.
Get more tips:
- Essential Things You Might Be Missing on Your Second Baby Registry
- How to Avoid Baby Clutter
- Essential Things Your Body Needs After Giving Birth
- The Ultimate Newborn Shopping List
- Newborn Tips and Tricks for New Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
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