third trimester checklist baby on board hat beach

Third Trimester Checklist: 17 End of Pregnancy To Dos

Mar 26, 2020

Third Trimester Checklist: 17 End of Pregnancy To Dos

Baby is the size of a cauliflower and you know what that means… it’s time to get going on your third trimester checklist!

Don’t you just love the fruit/veggie fetus measurements?

You’ll want to get started on this pregnancy to-do list when you’re about 1 month out from your due date.

You might think you’ve got a full 40 weeks, but take it from this first-time-mom who unexpectedly delivered 3 weeks early… you might not!

third trimester checklist

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Third Trimester Checklist: Here are 17 things to do before you give birth…

Pack at least 50% of your hospital bag.

Keep a list of everything you need to add to it.

If this is your first baby, you probably won’t have to dramatically rush to the hospital, but save yourself the stress and start packing a month before you’re due.

My #1 must have for the hospital is this 10-ft long phone charger. 100% necessary.

Hospital beds are far from the wall so a 6-foot cord won’t cut it. I learned this the hard way.

10-FOOT CHARGING CABLE

One note on hospital bags: Everyone always asks what kind of bag to bring. Overnight duffle, giant rolling suitcase, etc…

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter at all what you pick. Use whatever is convenient and holds all your stuff.

Related: Hospital Bag Must Haves: Checklist for Giving Birth.

(You can easily email yourself the checklist here.)

Build your postpartum kit.

Keep it all together in a bin.

Don’t open everything — I ended up returning some extras because the hospital sent me home with so much.

My postpartum must-haves:

  • Dermoplast (this stuff does wonders for the burning)
  • Tucks (38,000 reviews don’t lie… you need this for the burning too. Stick a few in a ziplock bag to bring when you go out.)
  • Depends (I lived in these)

Another product to consider that readers keep buying is this pack of ready to use padsicles. I didn’t know these were an option when I gave birth!

READY-TO-USE PADSICLES

Buy formula.

Even if you’re planning to exclusively breastfeed, I highly highly recommend picking up a bottle of ready-to-feed formula to have in the house.

(Again, get ready-to-feed — not powder).

We had to syringe-feed Aden during his first few days until my milk came in.

As far as what kind of formula to get… Infant formula is strictly regulated so any kind is fine. You might want to start with whatever’s cheapest and then try out a new one later if your baby has specific GI issues.

These little 2-ounce bottles are perfect for newborns.

4Schedule a free car seat installation or check.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 59% of car seats are not installed correctly. This is something you want done right.

There are lots of great organizations that will help you install your car seat for FREE where you live.

Check with your local police department and fire department. AAA also offers free car seat inspections in the West.

newborn baby car seat heading home hospital

A CPST from SF Safe was scheduled to come to our house, but Aden was born a couple of days before the appointment. The amazing tech met us at the hospital instead. He installed the seat in the the parking lot and then he came up to our room and showed us how to adjust the straps. All of this was FREE.

Important note: Once you’ve got the car seat installed, remove the seat from the base until you give birth — just in case you get into an accident.

It’s cheaper to replace the base than the entire thing.

(The NHTSA recommends that car seats be replaced after a moderate or severe crash).

Build a car kit.

Even if you have a fully stocked diaper bag, having a caddy filled with supplies is great.

car kit for new baby caddy with diapers new mom hack

GRAB MY CADDY HERE!

Here’s why you want one:

  • Back up! Just in case you forget to restock your diaper bag.
  • You can store extra stuff that might be too bulky or heavy to carry around in a diaper bag.
  • You won’t always want to take your diaper bag with you and this gives you the option not to.

It occasionally goes on sale so you may be able to get it for less than 15 bucks. Check the price here.

 

What should you include in your car kit? The same essentials you keep in your diaper bag. A few must-haves:

  • Extra muslin blankets
  • Several pacifiers (in case one falls and gets dirty)
  • A portable sound machine
  • Extra Ziploc bags
  • Change of clothes for baby (sized up)
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Hand sanitizer

Related: 60 Baby Hacks: The Ultimate List of Life Hacks for New Moms

Sterilize bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump parts.

I was so glad I had this stuff ready to go when we came home from the hospital.

The easiest and cheapest way to sterilize is to put everything in boiling water.

Let the parts air dry and then stick them in a Ziploc bag until baby comes.

Soft rubber parts should only be boiled for a couple of minutes. Hard plastic parts need a full five.

third trimester checklist sterilize baby bottles pacifiers breast pump parts

Reminder: If you haven’t ordered your pump yet, be sure to add that to your third trimester checklist too! The Spectra is the overwhelming favorite among moms, myself included.

Related: 6 Things I Didn’t Know About Bottle Feeding

Get your car cleaned. (Or clean it yourself).

This depends on how dirty your car is and how OCD you are.

In our case, it was obvious that our dog had been to the beach about a zillion times. I didn’t feel right about putting a clean carseat and a new baby into a dirty car.

Take care of all your beauty treatments.

Haircut, highlights, waxing, etc.

This isn’t to say you can’t still do these things once baby is born, but you’ll be 100x more tired, more busy, and less interested in your appearance once baby comes.

9Finalize your birth plan.

I went through the exercise of writing a birth plan, only to realize all of my preferences were for doctors to do whatever they thought was best for my baby.

Writing down a birth plan is good mental preparation, either way. Of course, if you do have strong preferences about anything in particular, make them known.

Wash a few outfits in size NB and size 0-3M.

You don’t know which size will fit your baby best.

Don’t wash everything — lots of moms will tell you they had big babies and ended up wanting to return all the NB stuff.

Don’t forget to wash swaddle blankets, wraps, burp cloths, socks, hats, wash cloths and bibs.

Note: There’s no need to use Dreft laundry detergent — just use Free & Clear for baby and the whole family.

Prepare at least one safe sleep space.

This one’s important.

Putting together a crib or bassinet is an activity you won’t want to be doing when you get home from the hospital.

swaddled newborn baby sleeping pack n play

We had three places for Aden to sleep: a bassinet in the master, a mini Pack N Play downstairs (pictured), and a crib in the nursery.

Not sure what qualifies as a “safe” sleep space? Read this for an important breakdown of the basics:

The ABC’s of Safe Sleep: How To Protect Your Baby From SIDS

Hint: It’s NOT safe for your baby to snooze in a Dockatot or a Snuggle Me. Read why.

Download these apps.

This is a 3rd trimester checklist activity that you can do from your bed!

If you’re laboring at home, you’re going to want a contraction timer so you know when to go to the hospital.

We didn’t end up needing the app since my water broke and we went right into L&D, so I can’t recommend a favorite here, but they’re all pretty similar.

 

Huckleberry is the second app you should download. It’s the best baby-tracking app I’ve used.

You can easily record everything (frequency of wet diapers, color of poops, length of nursing sessions, ounces fed, sleep windows, medications, etc).

You’ll need to keep track of these things while you’re in the hospital and during baby’s first days home.

Build your breastfeeding + pumping station.

It’s great to have everything you need in one place once you sit down to feed or pump.

Here are a few things you might want to include in your station:

I kept all of this in a nice little white rolling cart. It was perfect to wheel from room to room as needed!

Pack your diaper bag.

It’s great to have this ready to go during your third trimester — again, one less thing to worry about later!

I’ve got you covered with a detailed post on this: 21 Diaper Bag Essentials.

diaper bag checklist backpack with baby supplies

Diaper bag essentials! See what’s in my diaper bag.

Set up the baby monitor.

This takes a bit longer and can be more complicated than you might expect, so it’s smart to take care of it before your due date.

Things to consider about the placement of your baby monitor:

  • You want to have an unobstructed birds-eye view of the crib.
  • Never place a baby monitor inside the crib. Never attach it to the crib, either.
  • Make sure the cord is at least 3 feet away from the crib to prevent strangulation.

If you need a recommendation for a great baby monitor, check out the one we have! I’m a huge fan.

Schedule care for your pets.

Try to think ahead a little. Get vet visits out of the way before you’re in newborn baby mode.

Double check that you have flea and tick and heart-worm meds.

Make sure you have a plan for your pets for when you go into labor — maybe a boarding facility or a friend who can step in.

chocolate lab english Labrador wearing bandana sidewalk

Barkley’s “camp” allowed us to hold 3 weeks without pre-paying.  My sweet friend Suzy ended up taking him for the night when I was in labor.

If you’re planning on having someone come to your house to care for your pets while you’re in the hospital, make sure you have a spare key and a plan for where to leave it.

Familiarize yourself with hospital check-in procedures.

Last but not least on your 3rd trimester checklist should be making sure you know where to go and what to do when it’s time to give birth!

Things you should know:

  • Do you need to register with your hospital before delivery?
  • L&D phone number (save it in your phone)
  • Does the hospital want you to call ahead?
  • Hospital address
  • Where to park when you get there
  • Is there a place to temporarily leave your car if you don’t have time to park?
  • If so, do you need to prepare a sign to put in the window (i.e. Woman in Labor)?

Other items for your third trimester to do list

In a moment, we’re going to talk about how to survive the super difficult (but delicious) newborn phase.

But first, for the sake of a complete third trimester checklist, I will briefly include the following super basic stuff you probably already have covered!

 
  • Finalize baby’s name (check out this new post – a huge list of hippie name ideas)
  • Clean the house
  • Finish perfecting your nursery
  • Plan a date night with your significant other
  • Food prep — or do what we did and get lots of frozen meals
  • If you have other children, be sure to plan for their care

Now let’s get you mentally prepared…

Four things to expect during your newborn’s first weeks

Most of this will apply to you, but remember that all babies and all mothers are different.

You’re literally going to be troubleshooting 24/7.

Taking care of a newborn is an endless game of “why is my baby crying?”

 

Are they hungry?

Do they have a wet diaper?

Are they having digestive issues?

Are they tired?

Do they want to be held?

Do they want to be held or rocked differently?

This cycle is going to dictate your every move, day and night, at least for the first several weeks.

(FYI: There’s no such thing as spoiling a newborn).

 

It will be difficult to come up with any type of schedule—or at least one that you can stick to reliably.

When you’re not feeding, diapering, and trouble-shooting, you will either be cleaning, trying to squeeze in a nap, or prepping to resume feeding, diapering, and trouble-shooting.

Getting your baby back to their birth weight is the name of the game.

Before having Aden, I had no idea how much pressure there would be surrounding feeding.

 

Nearly all newborns lose weight during the first days after birth—regardless of whether they are breastfed or formula-fed.

The general goal is to get them back to their birth weight within around 2 weeks.

(You’ll discuss specific goals with your baby’s pediatrician).

 

Breastfeeding can be painful (especially at first) and it’s also much more difficult than first time moms expect it to be.

This only adds to the pressure.

Figuring out a successful latch, plus pumping, if you’re doing that—is going to ‘eat up’ a big part of your days.

 

It’s a good idea to join a few feeding support groups (like this one) and find out whether your hospital has a lactation consultant.

Other than that, there’s not much you can do to get ready for this while you’re still pregnant.

Get excited for lots and lots of doctors appointments…

You’re going to be back and forth to the pediatrician and the gynecologist constantly, sometimes several times per week.

The frequency will depend on a number of factors, such as how early your baby was born, how well they’re gaining weight, and of course how well your lady parts are healing.

Be prepared for a whole new level of sleep deprivation…

You obviously already know that you’re going to be tired.

But I have to tell you honestly, until Aden was born, I didn’t realize just how little sleep I’d be getting.

Newborns sleep a lot… but they don’t sleep for long intervals… ever.

You may get “lucky” with one 3-4 hour-long stretch, at best.

It’s important to realize that this is normal for newborns—It’s not that your particular newborn is a terrible sleeper.

 

Knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to better plan for your survival, which we’ll talk more about in the next section.

First, a critical note about one of the dangers of sleep deprivation:

Parental Exhaustion and SIDS/SUID

Mind-numbing exhaustion often leads parents to resort to unsafe sleep practices, including:

All of the above substantially increase the likelihood of SIDS/SUID, which is the #1 cause of infant death.

This isn’t to scare you, but to emphasize the importance of having a plan.

8 practical tips for surviving life with a newborn

I give you fair warning:

Some of these tips are going to sound obvious at first glance.

But, when you’re in the throws of brand-new-motherhood, it’s a completely different story.

Read on for some practical advice about surviving the newborn weeks.

 

If your plan is to “sleep when the baby sleeps”, you’re going to be a zombie.

In order to survive the newborn phase, you’re going to have to be strategic and intentional about getting sleep.

And not just some sleep here and there…

**PAY ATTENTION TO THIS PART**

You need to plan with your partner to get a bare minimum of 4 hours in a row of *uninterrupted* sleep each night (or day).

 

The keyword is PLAN.

Four consecutive hours.

This means that your partner (or whoever is there to help you) needs to be able to give the baby a bottle.

If you’re breastfeeding and worrying about introducing a bottle, this should be your takeaway: YOU. NEED. SLEEP.

Sleep is the key to holding it all together.

Your baby needs a mom who isn’t deliriously exhausted and losing her mind more than they need to be breastfed.

survival tip first time mom

You absolutely cannot take a “let’s see how the day goes” approach to getting sleep if you want to feel like a human.

Double or triple up on stuff you use often.

If spending some extra money is within your means, it’s well worth it to buy extras of anything you rely on to be clean and ready to use.

Doing so gives you the option to skip a day doing dishes or running laundry.

You’re going to be in survival mode. Take every single easy win you can get.

 

I recommend having at least 2 sets of breast pump parts and lots of extra bottles.

If you have a favorite swaddle, buy two.

Here are a few items I ended up buying multiples of:

Order extras of anything you find yourself washing regularly.

In a moment, I’m going to tell you all of my favorite newborn products that I relied on in the FIRST WEEK, specifically.

 

Division of labor.

Daily discussions = energy being drained.

Assigning daily jobs to each member of your support team is a great way to simplify things during an overwhelming time.

You want each person to have a designated duty so there’s no need for discussion about it each day.

newborn survival division labor

In my house, my mom was the official laundry person. My husband was in charge of the dog and the trash. Other things we figured out day by day.

Come up with a system that works for you to get your household running like a well-oiled machine.

 

A wrap or carrier is your best friend.

Honestly, those first few months would have been ten times harder without my Moby Wrap.

newborn baby with first time mom

(I genuinely don’t understand how people survive the newborn phase without babywearing.)

Newborns want to be held all the time, and this is the only way to have your hands free.

It was also my favorite way to do outings — I preferred this to the stroller.

Get sleep gear for YOU.

Back to #1 for a second: SLEEP FOR MOM.

It’s important to have whatever tools make it possible to completely shut down and relax when it’s finally your shift to sleep.

I really struggled with this when Aden was a newborn.

Some weird hyperactive-mama instinct made me want to be with him 24 hours a day, even though I very much needed to separate and refuel.

The things that helped me were:

 
  • Loud white noise so I couldn’t hear him crying. (This sound machine is phenomenal).
  • An eye mask to make it easier to nap in the daytime.

6 Have more than one baby command center.

If you’ve got 2 floors or live in a big place, it’s great to prepare a few supply stations.

Stock diapers, wipes, outfit changes, pacifiers, burp cloths, and whatever else your baby needs throughout the day.

mom hack diaper changing stations diapers wipes

 

This was key for my family because we were on a constant rotation of who was sleeping in what room.

It’s also just easier to have everything at arm’s reach.

We used a mini Pack N Play, the Travel Lite, as Aden’s downstairs sleep space and changing station.

Upstairs (where the bedrooms are), I stocked a rolling cart that we wheeled room to room.

7Get out of the house!

It may feel daunting, especially if you’re a first time mom, but pack your diaper bag and go do something.

I’m serious. It’s a major mood changer — especially if the weather is nice and you can be outside.

getting out of house new mom

During Aden’s first two weeks we took him to the botanical gardens, the beach, a pumpkin patch, and for walks around the neighborhood.

Even though I was an exhausted zombie on these outings, it still felt great to get out.

(And now these excursions are amazing memories).

8Mindset.

When things are feeling hard, try to remind yourself that this is entire phase is temporary.

Try to enjoy the sweetness of your newborn as much as you can.

What everyone says is true: the days are long but the months are short.

mindset first time mom newborn phase

Next, we’re going to talk about my favorite newborn products.

But, first a quick note:

An important note about PPD/PPA:

Not all new moms feel bright and cheery, even though they might want to feel that way.

If you don’t feel like yourself and if you think it’s interfering with your day to day life, talk to your doctor.

“Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.” – Mayo Clinic

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety don’t look exactly the same for every person.

The Mayo Clinic has a list of symptoms that are worth reviewing and speaking to your doctor about.

Must-have products for the first week

These are the 7 specific items I’m glad I had all ready to go for Aden’s first week home.

I relied on every single one of these heavily.

 

Arms UP swaddle

Here’s why I love this particular swaddle:

  • It’s 100% exhausted-mom-proof. You can’t mess it up. It easily zips closed and you don’t have to worry about anything coming loose.

newborn baby sleeping

  • It’s lightweight. Perfect for warmer and moderate temperatures.
  • Aden seemed to like having his arms by his ears, as many babies do.

I loved this thing so much I struggled when it was dirty so we Amazon Prime-d a second one!

Related: Baby Wants Hands Out of Swaddle? (6 Useful Things to Try)

Nursing bras

Fellow big-chested mamas… these nursing bras are so comfortable!

Especially in the early postpartum days, the last thing you want is a digging underwire.

nursing bras for postpartum

NURSING BRA 3-PACK

They aren’t the most shaping or supportive, but they aren’t the worst in those departments either!

They’re super comfy for 24-hour wear, reasonably priced, and are easy to hook/unhook to feed.

And of course, they fit big boobs! According to their sizing chart, they go up to sizes such as 38DDD.

Check out this customer review that I thought was really helpful.

Pumping bra

I don’t know how anyone manages to pump without a bra like this.

pumping bra for new mom

PUMPING BRA

A pumping bra is a must-have if you want to be able to use your hands while pumping — which you will.

I did everything while I was pumping… emptied the dishwasher, responded to emails, even drove!

 

There’s a long swath of velcro in the back so this bra fits a very wide range of sizes, even the DDD range.

Helpful note:

A pumping bra doesn’t need to meet your usual bra requirements. All you need is something tight around your ribs with holes for your nipples.

newborn baby sleeping on mom

Massage pillow

All of the new motions of lifting, holding, and breastfeeding a newborn triggered some serious shoulder and back pain for me.

I relied on this massage pillow heavily in the early days (and still use it all the time).

massage pillow new mom back pain

MASSAGE PILLOW

I got really good at rotating and positioning it to get all different areas of my neck and back.

If you’re someone who likes super hard pressure, you won’t be disappointed.

P.S. Sometimes there’s a 20% off coupon available at checkout! (This is approximately a $10 discount!)

See if the coupon is available. (It will be in green right underneath the price).

  Portable dimmable night light

I’m obsessed with this little light! It’s exactly what you need for breastfeeding and diaper changes in the dark.

portable night light breastfeeding

I love that it’s wireless and rechargeable (the charge lasts a really long time). I’ve been using this multiple times a night for months.

The light dims really low as you apply pressure to the center.

A free alternative is to use the flashlight on your phone, but I found even my phone’s lowest setting to be too bright.

portable nightlight newborn must have

Check out this nifty little gadget!

Mini Pack N Play

We love our Travel Lite.

I’m certain that we’ve used it more than almost every baby product we own.

It’s safe for sleep, has a much smaller footprint than a regular playard, and can be adjusted as your baby grows.

We used ours constantly during the newborn weeks. It was Aden’s downstairs bed and also served as the perfect changing table.

Adult diapers

If you haven’t heard about this postpartum hack yet, you’re welcome.

Get yourself some of these.

The hospital will probably give you some crappy disposable underwear and ginormous pads to take home, so that’s your free option.

Your easier and more comfortable option is to make like a baby and wear a diaper for a few weeks!

This was by far my most used postpartum item.

When do babies get easier?

Babies get easier when they start sleeping for longer intervals.

The timeline will be different for every baby, but generally, the first 6 weeks are the hardest.

For us, everything got SO MUCH easier when Aden turned 4 months and we received pediatrician approval to do some light sleep training.

(Babies younger than 4 months don’t know how to self-soothe, which is why sleep training isn’t advised before this).

We did a modified version of the Ferber Method and within just a few nights, we saw the following amazing changes:

  • We were able to put Aden down awake and have him fall asleep (quickly) on his own.
  • He slept longer stretches at a time.
  • I was able to feed him in the middle of the night and have him go right back to sleep without any fuss.

All of this meant more sleep for us parents!

Read this related post next:

35 things to do (WHILE LYING IN BED) to get ready for baby!

More helpful articles for first time moms:

Do you have a toddler between 1 and 4 years old?

christmas lights

Email yourself this seriously great list of toddler stocking stuffer ideas to save for Christmas 2022.

Final thoughts on your third trimester checklist

I’m a big believer that planning reduces anxiety and I love myself a good to-do list. You’ll probably find that you’re continuously editing your third trimester checklist, so keep it somewhere handy like the notepad on your phone.

Articles related to executing a third trimester to do list

Check out the posts I mentioned earlier:

Third Trimester Checklist: End of Pregnancy To Dos