How to Prepare for a Baby: Third Trimester Checklist
Preparing for baby? There are some crucial things to do before baby arrives that will make your life with a newborn SO much easier.
In my final weeks of figuring out how to prepare for baby #2, I am remembering some things that I did or WISH I had done last go-round.
There’s the initial freak out of “Oh my gosh, I only have 3 weeks left, I’ve got to get stuff done!” You frantically finish the nursery and clean the bathrooms. Then suddenly comes “Oook, he was due 3 days ago…I’m ready…what do I do now?”
Know the feeling?
Well, whatever stage you are in as you’re preparing for baby to arrive, I’ve got some tips for you. If you’re wondering what to do while waiting for baby, this third trimester checklist should cover all your bases. Checking these these tasks off of your to do list before baby will pay off, Mama. Thank yourself later. Getting organized now will make settling into your life with a newborn much less stressful.
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Preparing for Baby Checklist:
1. Prepare a Postpartum Care Kit
Don’t just prepare for baby, prepare for MAMA! Everyone researches what baby things to buy before birth, but stocking up on postpartum essentials is JUST as important to your new mom survival kit.
This is a must-do, girl. Get a little basket and put it next to the toilet. Fill it with all the things you’ll need for your postpartum care. You don’t want to have to waddle over to the cabinet and fumble with opening pads or toilet paper when you’re recovering from childbirth.
Here are some tips on what to include:
GOOD Pads – This kind is perfect. Yes, they’re huge, but trust me, you want huge. And compared to what they give you at these hospital these will feel great. You may want to stock up on a lighter kind as well, to use when things lighten up. I like to use this thinner kind for the later weeks of postpartum recovery.
Tucks – These wipes are incredibly helpful for postpartum care and healing. My nurse recommended them and I was SO thankful. There’s a lot going on down there. You’ll be glad to have this on hand to relieve some serious discomfort. I like to make a row of 3 overlapping wipes and “tuck” them from front to back. It really makes a difference. I think every mama I know uses these awesome things.
Pain Relieving Spray – I read this tip before my first baby. So great! Any extra relief you can get down there is a must! This will help! And it’s made with natural ingredients so you don’t have to worry too much about what you’re spraying down there…
Cleansing bottle – Aka: Peri Bottle. This is essential to rinse and care for your postpartum recovery needs, especially if you experience tearing during childbirth (which can be common.) Keep it in the bathroom and refill it with warm water. It will speed up the healing process, keep things clean, and the warmth is sweet relief after every not-so-sweet visit to the toilet.
Sitz Bath Soak – Another tip for extra relief down there after having a baby is taking postpartum sitz baths. This is a simple and really gentle way to manage pain and speed recovery. This post by Carly at Mommy On Purpose has great tips on exactly how to do a sitz bath (and why you should.) This stuff comes highly recommended from mamas because it works really well, smells amazing, and a little goes a long way. But you can also simply use Epsom salt and lavender essential oil.
Colace – You’ll most likely use this at the hospital and they’ll recommend you continue. I recommend that too. You want to stay as regular as possible…TRUST me. That first visit to the bathroom after I got home from the hospital was *almost* worse than giving birth. This can help a lot.
GOOD toilet paper – You want a good quality, thick ply variety for patting. If ever you deserve the good stuff, it’s now. Keep an extra roll in your postpartum care kit, just in case it runs out.
Extra panties – You never know when things may suddenly get heavier or when a surprise could get messy. Keep a change of panties in your basket, so you can freshen up with plenty of privacy.
Buy a pack or two of too-large granny panties for postpartum recovery. Like these. Once you graduate out of the hospital net undies, you’ll be glad to have something loose and comfortable that you can just throw away if they get ruined during the joyful postpartum aftermath.
For some additional of my tips on making a postpartum care plan, check out my post exclusively about Postpartum Recovery Tips.
2. Prepare a Breastfeeding Station (Or Pumping Station)
Breastfeeding is awesome. But it can take a little time to adjust to, especially with your first.
Setting up a little station next to each of your nursing areas will take some of the stress out of things. I recommend having a little breastfeeding basket or tray set up next to anywhere you plan to breastfeed regularly, especially at night. For me, this was my bedside and next to the chair in the nursery.
Include some practical items and some comforts. Here are some ideas to get you going:
Water Bottle – You will not BELIEVE how much water you need to drink while breastfeeding. I highly recommend getting a great quality water bottle that will work well for your new mom needs.
I love this one. It keeps water cold, isn’t made of plastic, and has a large handle perfect for grabbing it with one finger while juggling Baby and five other things. Keep water with you everywhere, Mama. You’ve gotta put in even more than you’re putting out.
Keeping your water bottle refilled is a perfect “Daddy job” for new fathers who want to help ease the stresses of breastfeeding, but don’t know exactly how.
Nipple Butter – Make sure your breastfeeding basket has a little something for pain relief. Breastfeeding is amazing…but it can hurt when you are getting started. Don’t let that stop you!
Talking with a lactation specialist can really help solve any problems causing extra pain, but when breasts are adjusting to being sucked on every two hours, you might just need something to soothe until your body gets used to the new normal. This nipple butter is great natural option that is safe for Baby and very helpful.
THIS Nursing Pillow – Keep your nursing pillow near your Breastfeeding Station. It will be nice for it to have a home, not just land in random places. I HIGHLY recommend this amazing pillow. It’s even better than a Boppy and can be used in pregnancy and for Baby’s tummy time pillow too! It’s hands down one of the best products I use. I go into more detail about why it’s the best pillow for pregnancy, breastfeeding mamas, and babies in this post. Get it now for extra comfort in your final weeks of pregnancy or add it to your baby registry.
Hand Sanitizer – I always like to keep my hands extra clean when handling breast milk. Look for a great alcohol and dye-free option, like this kind. Keep in mind, the first thing your hands will touch after washing is usually Baby.
Breast Pump and Accessories
High Protein Snacks – In case you haven’t heard…breastfeeding makes you ravenous! Especially at first. Have some food ready to refuel when you need a pick-me-up.
Wipes and Burp cloths – For dribbles and messes.
Chocolate – Because chocolate.
Breast Pads – Breast milk can take some time to settle in. For a while it seems like you just don’t have enough, then all the sudden it’s like an overfilled fountain. Using disposable breast pads will save you from feeling like a gross leaky mess. This is the kind I always use. They’re great and never fail me, but if you prefer, these washable breast pads are also very popular.
Want some REALLY Good Pre-Breastfeeding advice?
Take this class.
You can (and should) prepare yourself for breastfeeding really easily with The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class by Milkology. I HIGHLY recommend it for moms-to-be.
It’s totally online and an inexpensive way to feel super confident as you go into this new, challenging adventure. Stacey teaches you everything you need to know about breastfeeding and it’s pretty dang cool. (She even has a Back to Work Pumping Class perfect for working mamas.)
This is really an essential resource.
Prepare for baby feedings! If you plan on pumping at all, I recommend going ahead and setting up a system for freezing your breastmilk. Plan ahead. You want this to be a seamless process. I like using these breastmilk storage bags because they have a great shape for storing and organizing.
The better your freezer is organized, the more milk you can store…the more milk you store, the more times Daddy can do the night feeding and Mama can SLEEP! Trust me, there will be no higher priority after a few days of mommy sleep-deprivation.
Here are some awesome ways you can store breastmilk:
I also recommend having your bottles, nipples, breast pump accessories, etc. all open and sanitized. Set up a little storage system for this too. Make room in a cabinet or have a station on the counter. We usually use our grass drying rack and a little basket under the cabinet with the bibs and other feeding supplies.
Those things aren’t going to do you any good still packaged and in the gift bag from your baby shower. When the time comes to use them, you’ll love that it’s all ready to go. If you have spare time now, check it off your list and reap the benefits in a couple weeks.
4. Prep Freezer Meals
You won’t regret this one. When your hubby goes back to work and the Meal Train subsides, you’ll be sooo thankful that you prepped some easy meals. This is perfect for evenings when you’re too exhausted to cook or there’s an unexpected trip to the pediatrician. It can also help ease back into cooking while you conquer the learning curve of making dinner with a newborn in tow.
About 3-4 weeks before baby arrives, we start doubling 1 or 2 of our meals each week. I love using zipper bags and freezing the meals flat, so we can store a ton and then just thaw and dump in a pot. It’s fully cooked and ready to go. We just write the name of the meal and the date in permanent marker and stick it in the freezer. Simple enough and sooo worth the little bit of extra effort.
This is a great way to start preparing for baby in the last stretch. I’d stash as much as you have room for, but we are aiming for at least 1 week’s worth of meals this time. More if we can.
A little tip:
Don’t start making these meals too early when preparing for baby. Many of meals are only good to freeze for a month or two.
If you want to be reallllly prepared, you could even make a little menu for yourself. Include the name of the frozen dish then write in any sides you’d like to go with it. That way, you can easily know what to order from the grocery store (do this!) and your meals won’t accidentally consist of taco meat, but no toppings or tortillas. Can you tell I’m speaking from experience?
Also, get some paper plates! Trust me, you are not going to be feeling dish duty even if you happen to find the time after baby comes. We used paper plates for the first week with our first. This time, I bought the big boy package. We’ll use them until we feel somewhat human again, however long that takes. No shame.
5. Catch up on Laundry
If you’re reallllly out of things to do before baby arrives and you’re still not ready to pop, throw some clothes in the washer, go take a nap, then put them in the dryer. Fold them while you binge watch Netflix because I KNOW you’re not feeling like doing a whole lot else this close to your due date.
Even if you’re just tackling that pile of dirty blankets that has been sitting by the washer for 3 months, it’ll be nice to knock it out. The less clutter you have after once Baby comes, the better.
Plan for season changes! I’m due right around the shift from Fall to Winter. I didn’t want to be stuck either freezing or trying to dig out our coats while breastfeeding and chasing a toddler.
Go ahead and wash all of the clothes you expect to need over the next month or two. Have them ready to go and put away anything you won’t need (remember, clutter is an enemy when you’re in the newborn fog.)
A couple more simple things to do to prepare for baby:
6. Prepare with these tools
Baby Feeding Tracker App:
You’ll probably be told by Baby’s pediatrician to log all of his or her feedings for the first month or so. You also need to track diapers and other details. When you’re sleep deprived, these things get hazy real quick. Here’s the app we use.
Download a Sound Machine App:
Not for baby…for YOU.
Mama, if there’s any way you can squeeze in extra sleep during the day, you’ll want to do it. Some background noise will drown out the noisy neighbors, cars going by, or your toddler in the next room with Grandma. We love this one.
7. Prepare for Labor
Ok, maybe this one should be first.
Before you do ANYTHING else, prepare yourself for giving birth. You never know how early and unexpectedly you might go into labor. Be. Ready.
And here is my best advice for how to do that:
Take a quality Prenatal Class. (Like this one)
This is probably one of the best uses of your time as you wait for Baby.
Trust me, feeling informed about what’s going to happen when you go into labor takes SO much fear out of what’s about to go down.
FEAR = PAIN.
This amazing class is sooo good and done completely ONLINE. How cool is that?
Hillary is a real life Labor and Delivery Nurse who explains all the must-knows about labor, delivery, and newborn care in a really cool way. It’s a couples class, so your man can learn alongside you and better support you when the big day comes.
This class is interesting, helpful, and sooo much more convenient than spending an entire Saturday at a hospital class.
She covers the basics, plus answers uncommon questions like,
“What if I POOP while pushing?!”
Taking a class will give you confidence going into childbirth. You got this, girl!(And my readers get a discount! Enroll in her class using the code: OY10.)
ANOTHER important way to prepare for labor:
Make sure you haven’t left anything out of your labor bag.
I have a brand new, in-depth post on EVERYTHING you’ll need to pack in your hospital bag.
This will be extremely helpful in figuring out if you’ve really covered ALL your labor, delivery, and recovery needs when packing your hospital bag. Make sure you start packing for mom, dad, and baby’s hospital bag checklist around 35 weeks pregnant.
Preparing for Baby
Now you can fully prepare for baby! I hope you loved this list of things to get done before baby arrives. Ok, now go get to prepping! And napping. Lots and lots of pre-baby napping.
And if you want to stock up on ALL of the last minute baby items that you probably won’t get at your baby shower, check out my post, Practical Baby Items: What you Need for Baby.
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