Two trimesters down, only 1 more to go! This final stretch of pregnancy is all about preparing for birth and baby. Stay on top of everything with this third trimester to do list!
By this point in pregnancy, you probably aren’t feeling your best. The aches and pains of a growing baby can make literally everything uncomfortable.
The third trimester can feel like it lasts forever especially the last few weeks. By the end you are so ready to just hold your baby and not be pregnant anymore.
This checklist is fairly lengthy, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Many of these suggestions are pretty easy to complete and some you may choose not to do.
There is a lot to do this last trimester because you need to prepare not just for labor, which is a big deal, but also for your baby and your life after their birth, which is huge.
The more you can do now, the easier all of that will be and you can focus on bonding with that sweet new baby.
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So here is the ultimate third trimester to do list:
Learn The Labor Signs
It’s important to learn about labor so you’ll be able to recognize it.
Though it seems like it should be obvious, for many women the start of labor is not so clear. Real life is not like the movies.
For instance, with my first pregnancy I didn’t know if my water broke or not. It was surprisingly confusing. You can read about how to tell if your water broke or you just peed here.
Luckily there are plenty of resources to help you learn all about the stages of labor like classes, apps, and books.
It’s also important to check with your care provider about when you should contact them.
You may want to download a contraction timer. Many pregnancy apps have one already. This will help you measure the time between your contractions to help you figure out if you’re in labor and when you need to head to the hospital.
Pre-Register for the Hospital
Many hospitals ask that you pre-register for your delivery. This helps them plan their resources and hopefully expedites your admission.
When the big day comes, the hospital will already have all of your information making it quicker and easier when you show up.
Take a Hospital Tour
How familiar are you with the hospital where you will deliver?
Do you know which entrance to use? Which floor to go to? The visitor policy?
Taking a hospital tour is a great way to get all of your questions answered. You will feel more prepared knowing where you are supposed to go and what to expect.
Also, the dry run of simply driving to the hospital can be helpful if you haven’t been there before.
Pack Hospital Bag
It’s time to get that hospital bag ready for the big day. Not sure what to pack?
We have a great packing list that will help you have everything you need without overpacking. Read the hospital bag checklist here.
Some things to keep in mind when packing:
First of all, you’ll need stuff for labor as well as recovery.
Second, your partner will also need to have a bag packed and ready if they plan to stay with you at the hospital.
Finally, pack things for the baby. You generally don’t need much for them. Usually the hospital has most everything they need, except an outfit for going home.
Start Doing Kick Counts
By this point in pregnancy, baby’s movements are hard to ignore. Most doctors will recommend you start doing kick counts now since changes in baby’s movement can be a sign of distress.
There are lots of opinions on kick counts as well as different ways to do this. The general advice is that you want to feel at least 10 movements within 2 hours.
Be sure to contact your care provider if you have concerns about your baby’s movement.
Take a Birthing Class
If you want to take a childbirth course, the third trimester is the best time. You can hopefully take it early enough that you complete it before baby arrives, yet still close enough to labor that you can remember what you learned.
Not everyone takes birthing classes. If you aren’t sure whether or not you want to, here is a great discussion of the pros and cons.
Make Your Birth Plan
It’s a good time to think about the birth experience that you want and make a birth plan. Many women choose to write out a birth plan to bring to the hospital with them.
While this is not totally necessary, it is a good idea to think about what you want and discuss it with your care provider.
The best thing about birth plans is that you know what you want. On the flip side, sometimes all the plans go out the window during labor.
Make Important Medical Decisions
Whether or not you write out a birth plan, there are some important decisions that you’ll have to make either during labor or shortly after. It’s best to have given these some consideration ahead of time since you may not be in a great state of mind.
For instance, do you want to save the cord blood? Do you want your baby to be circumcised? Is your heart set on placenta encapsulation?
And as morbid as it may sound, do you have an advance directive?
If you haven’t made these decisions, they could end up being made for you and you may not be happy with that outcome.
Choose a Pediatrician
You will need to pick a pediatrician for your baby. The hospital will want this information when you’re admitted and they may even want it when you pre-register.
Depending on the doctor’s affiliation with the hospital where you give birth, they may come and examine your baby after birth.
Start researching your options. Ask friends for recommendations and get references. Make sure they accept your insurance. Many doctors will let you schedule a meeting to ask questions.
Some things to consider when picking your baby’s doctor include locations, hours (some practices offer early, late, and weekend hours), responsiveness of the staff, board certification, and the doctor’s views on choices that are important to you like breastfeeding, circumcision, and vaccines.
Make a Baby Day Game Plan
This is a plan for all of the other, non medical things that need to be taken care of when the big day arrives.
This means things like how you’ll get to the hospital, who will check in on your pets, and child care for your older children. These types of logistics can be easily overlooked and cause major problems. You do not want to be scrambling to find a babysitter between contractions.
Another great thing to include in this plan is who you want to contact and when. Who do you want to text right away to meet you at the hospital? Who do you want to text right after birth?
You may find that you need a few different contingency plans depending on the scenario like if labor starts at work or the middle of the night. Try your best to plan for what you can, but also know that even the best plans don’t always work out perfectly so be flexible.
Have a Baby Shower
The third trimester is the most common time for a baby shower!
Ideally someone throws a shower for you and all you have to do is show up and enjoy! This should just be fun for the mom-to-be!
You’ll likely receive lots of the baby essentials that you will soon be using. Getting them all organized and clean will also help you inventory to figure out which items you still need to get.
Send your thank you notes out as soon as possible afterwards. You definitely want them done before baby arrives and your hands are full.
Wash Baby’s Clothes
While some people will say this is not necessary, it is generally considered a good idea to wash baby’s clothing, blankets, and burp cloths. In fact, often labels specifically recommend to wash before wearing.
Babies have sensitive, delicate skin so by pre-washing you remove any chemicals or irritants on the clothing that could bother them.
You don’t need to get a “baby” detergent (though they do smell like heaven), but if not it is a good idea to find one that is free from perfumes and dyes as these can be irritating.
It is also often recommended to skip the fabric softener or dryer sheets. We like to use dryer balls instead.
Assemble Baby Gear
A lot of common baby gear has some assembly required. Now is the time to put together the baby swing, crib, changing table and any other baby necessities.
So many moms feel like they need to have the nursery set up, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t sweat it. It isn’t completely necessary right away. You definitely don’t need to stress yourself out about having a pinterest-perfect nursery ready.
Just make sure that you have the absolute essentials ready and assembled. For instance, if you plan on bottle feeding, pull those out of the packaging and get them sanitized, put together, and ready to go.
I also suggest prioritizing a safe place for your baby to sleep like the crib or bassinet.
Prepare Postpartum Essentials
We are so excited for the new baby that often we neglect to think about the postpartum healing that moms go through after birth.
Recovering after having a baby is no joke. You will probably not feel like dragging your newborn out to the store for giant maxi pads and stool softeners, but you will need them.
We have a whole list of postpartum must haves to have on hand ahead of time here.
Choose a Baby Name
You have probably been thinking about baby names for a while now and may already have the perfect one selected. If not, decision time is coming quick.
You never realize how many weird name associations you have until it’s time to pick one for your baby.
If you and your partner can’t see eye to eye on a name, we have a guide to finding a perfect baby name that you will both love here.
Install the Car Seat
To leave the hospital you will need a car seat, so get that ready now.
Newborns need a rear-facing seat. You can choose between an infant seat or convertible seat. We discuss the pros and cons for each type and share our recommendations here.
Make sure you have a car seat and go ahead and install it too. Car seat installation can be a bit tricky particularly for certain seats and cars. Be sure you follow the manual instructions. You can also have your installation checked by a certified technician.
You won’t want to be figuring out the car seat while you’re in labor and waiting until the last minute makes installation mistakes more likely. Obviously, you want your precious newborn to be as safe as possible on their ride home.
Prepare for Breastfeeding
If you plan on breastfeeding, a little preparation now can make it much easier.
Check with your health insurance to find out how to get a free breast pump.
Also, make sure you have some of the breastfeeding essentials like nipple cream and nursing pads. Read the full list of breastfeeding must haves.
Finally, put together a breastfeeding basket. Choose a comfy spot and have it stocked and ready for the baby. You can read about everything you need to make the perfect breastfeeding station here.
Get the House Fully Stocked
Make your postpartum life easier by being fully stocked on all your household essentials. Having a stocked house will save you trips to the store and simplify your life for a while.
Wondering what to stock up on? Anything that is a problem to run out of and is shelf or freezer stable. Things like:
- Paper products (Toilet paper, paper towels)
- Cleaning products (Laundry detergent, dish soap)
- Toiletries (Tooth paste, soap, shampoo/conditioner)
- Baby items (diapers, wipes)
- Pet supplies (food, litter)
- Food (snacks, easy meals, freezer meals)
You don’t need to hoard these things like it’s the apocalypse, but making sure that you have enough to get through a few weeks can save your sanity.
Take Maternity Photos
If you want maternity photos, most moms-to-be have them taken during the third trimester.
Usually people want to be able to see an obvious bump, but don’t want to feel enormous and uncomfortable. The most common time for photos is between 30 and 36 weeks.
If you don’t opt for professional photos, make sure to get some pics of your pregnancy. So often we are the ones taking the photos instead of being in them.
Even if you don’t feel particularly photogenic, it will be fun to look back at those photos with your little one when they’re older.
Don’t Stress About Your Third Trimester To Do List
I know there is so much to do, you’re so excited, and it is a challenge to get a good night’s sleep at this point in pregnancy, but try to get some rest.
I know that this list has a lot. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take it easy as much as you can.
Life is about to change so take this opportunity to do something nice for yourself.