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Things to Do Before Baby Arrives: Essential Third Trimester Checklist

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The third trimester of pregnancy is a time for preparation. There are many things to do before baby arrives, and this third-trimester checklist will help you make sure that you don’t miss anything important.

During the last few months of your pregnancy, you will want to focus on preparing your home for the new arrival, stocking up on supplies, and getting your body ready for labour and delivery.

Keep reading for your ultimate guide to things to do before baby is born – beyond packing your hospital bag!

Pregnant woman with baby checklist

Preparing For The Arrival Of Your New Baby

The third trimester of pregnancy can be both an exciting and a daunting time in any expectant parent’s life. The excitement of finally meeting your baby is offset by the worry of making sure that you are prepared for their arrival.

One of the best things you can do during the third trimester is to start preparing your home for your new arrival. Preparing for a baby goes beyond just having your nursery ready though.

This guide will help you make sure you have all the things done that you need to do before your baby arrives and ideally, with time to spare for some rest before your new normal kicks in!

Your Essential Third Trimester Checklist

This third-trimester checklist will help you to prepare the things you need to do before baby arrives and help you to feel as calm as you can during this exciting new phase of your life.

Things To Buy Before Baby Arrives

When expecting your first baby, it’s easy to get carried away with the excitement and end up with many baby items that you never ended up using.

To save you both time and money, sticking just with the absolute essentials initially is a good way to prepare for a first baby. If you are expecting a subsequent baby, you likely have some idea of what you will use and what you won’t, based on past experiences.

Of course, every family is different, and you may find that you need (or don’t need) some of these things depending on your individual circumstances.

Use this list as a starting point, and add or remove items as necessary.

If you are having a baby shower (more on this below), aim to have it a little earlier in your third trimester. It can be worthwhile holding off on some of the essentials until after your baby shower, and then getting anything you still need afterwards so you don’t end up doubling up.

For a more comprehensive list, check out my guide to the essentials you need for a newborn for the first 3 months.

Baby Essentials

  • Basic baby clothes to suit the season – rompers, singlets, beanies, socks, leggings.
  • Sleepsuits or swaddles
  • Baby blankets
  • Burp clothes
  • Nappies
  • Baby wipes
  • Nappy rash cream
  • Crib or bassinette and sheets
  • Baby rocker
  • Diaper bag
  • Car seat
  • Stroller
  • Baby bottles/steriliser/formula

New Mum Essentials

  • Maternity bras
  • Nursing pads
  • Nursing tops
  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • Comfortable pyjamas
  • Nursing cover
  • Breast pump

Things To Discuss Before Baby Arrives

Pregnant woman holding hands with partner outdoors

There are many important conversations you need to have with your partner and potentially other family members before the birth of your new baby. Open communication will help ease many of your anxieties as you embark on your new journey.

Birth Planning

One of the most important things you can do in the third trimester is to start preparing for labour and delivery, including making your birth plan.

Plan the hospital where you will give birth and contact your insurance company about what is covered under your policy if you have private health insurance.

If you are undecided on which hospital, you and your partner might like to do a hospital tour of your top choices.

You’ll want to start thinking about things like what type of pain relief you want during labour, whether or not you want to use a birthing pool, and who you want in the delivery room with you.

If you’re planning a home birth, now is also the time to start getting everything ready for that.

Preparing a birth plan is something that you can discuss with your obstetrician or midwife during one of your antenatal visits, as well as discuss at home with your partner so that they have a clear expectation of what you want and how they can support your birthing experience.

It’s also a good idea to start reading up on what to expect during labour and delivery so that you know what to expect and can be as prepared as possible.

Immunisations

By this stage of your relationship, you likely have a fair idea of your partner’s views on immunisation, however, this is a topic of conversation that is still worth having.

It’s important to be on the same page about immunisations before your child’s birth and be informed about the type of immunisations that are available during your child’s first year and beyond.

If you or your partner are not in favour of immunisation, there is a lot of information available online and with your doctor’s advice about the risks and benefits of immunisation so that you can make an informed decision.

Financial Preparations

Having a baby is expensive, and there are a lot of things that you need to buy before your baby arrives.

Now is the time to start thinking about how you’re going to afford everything, whether that’s through savings, credit cards, or ways you can reduce the costs of having a child (such as buying second-hand baby furniture).

If both of you were working prior to having a baby, it is essential to create a new budget for your household as a single-income family.

This will help you to figure out what you can afford and what changes need to be made in order to make ends meet.

Related Reading: Family budget tips to save money

Maternity Leave

The options for maternity leave differ in each country, so it’s important to do your research and find out what is available to you.

In Australia, for example, there is the government-funded Paid Parental Leave Scheme which provides eligible parents with 18 weeks of leave at the national minimum wage.

This is dependent on many different factors, such as the type of employment and duration of employment held.

You will also need to lodge your intention to take maternity leave with your employer if you are currently working. Most companies will require a return to work date, but there is often the option to extend this if you choose to stay home longer after your baby is born.

It is important to discuss with your partner how long you plan to take off initially and how this will fit into your family budget.

RELATED: Legitimate work-from-home jobs for mums

Paternity Leave

In some parts of the world, there is also the option of paternity leave for fathers who wish to take some time off after the birth of their child. This is paid in some cases or unpaid in others.

If your place of employment does not offer a paternity leave program, it is still important to discuss how much leave your partner intends to take after the birth of your child.

It is hard to know how you will be feeling after giving birth and how much help you will require after baby is born in those first few weeks of your baby’s life.

Sharing Responsibilities

Another essential conversation to have with your partner before your new baby arrives is how you will share household and parental responsibilities.

  • Will your partner take over some of the cooking and cleaning while you adjust or recover?
  • Will you share bottle feeds and diaper changes?
  • Are there other ways your partner can support you during the newborn phase?

If you are required to have an emergency c-section, or you are planning to have a caesarian birth, there will be certain things you will be unable to do for a period of time after your baby is born.

It is important to have a discussion with your partner about how they can help support you during this time so that you can heal and bond with your new baby.

Finalise Your Baby Names

If you haven’t already decided on a baby name, now is the time to do it!

There are many things to consider when choosing a name for your baby. You may want to choose a family name or a name that has meaning to you.

You may also want to consider how the initials of your baby’s name will spell out. For example, will it spell out anything that might be embarrassing or offensive?

You may want to have a few different name options so that you can choose the one you like the best once you meet your baby. And of course, finding a baby name that both you and your partner love is important!

Visitors After Baby’s Arrival

After your baby is born, many local friends and family members will be eager to come meet your sweet baby.

It can be overwhelming to have a constant stream of visitors, especially when you are trying to establish breastfeeding and get used to life with a new baby in those first few weeks.

You may want to set some ground rules with your partner for after baby guests, such as only allowing the immediate family to visit in the hospital or asking that people call before they come over.

Some parents choose to only allow family and friends to visit if they are vaccinated for whooping cough since newborn babies are unable to be vaccinated until they are six weeks old.

This is something you may want to consider if there has been a recent outbreak of whooping cough in your area.

Things To Do Before Baby Arrives

Your pre-baby plans are starting to come together and you know what things you will need to buy and set up, so now it’s time to get stuff done well before your due date. After all, due dates are rarely spot on!

Setting Up Your Nursery

Pretty feminine baby nursery

If you are planning to have a nursery for your baby, now is the time to start setting it up. Hopefully, you actually kicked this off a little earlier so you don’t have quite so much to do on your pre-baby checklist in those last 3 months.

Planning to paint your nursery?

Do this as early as you can and aim to spend time away from the home while the paint dries since it might set off some of that awful pregnancy nausea.

Even if you aren’t planning to have a nursery for your baby, you will still need to set up all the baby’s furniture, such as what your baby will be sleeping in.

These items need to be built and put into their new positions for when the baby comes home.

Pre-Natal Classes

Prenatal classes are a great way to learn more about what you can expect during birth and this can be really helpful for your partner too since it will give them a better understanding of how to support you during birth and with newborn care after you take the baby home.

You will likely already have some idea of what to expect if you have been reading up on all things pregnancy and birth, but these classes offer a more hands-on approach from a delivery nurse.

Prenatal classes also offer the opportunity to meet other couples who are in the same situation as you, which can be reassuring and great for making friends before baby arrives.

Check with your local hospital or birth centre to see what classes they offer and when they are scheduled.

If you aren’t able to easily attend a birthing class in person, check out this online prenatal program instead. It is a highly-rated online program from an experienced maternity nurse.

Hire A Doula Or Pediatrician

If you want extra support during your pregnancy and birth, you may want to consider hiring a doula or childbirth educator.

A doula is a professional who provides support and guidance to couples during pregnancy and childbirth. They are a great source of information and can offer emotional support during labour.

A pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in the care of babies and children. You will likely have already chosen a pediatrician for your baby, but if you haven’t, now is the time to do so.

You will want to interview several pediatricians to find one that you feel comfortable with and who you feel confident will provide the best care for your child.

Wash Baby Clothing

Make sure you don’t leave washing the baby clothes until too close to your due date! This can actually be a really fun moment. One of the few times you might actually enjoy doing the washing!

All those tiny cute outfits hanging to dry are a wonderful reminder of how close you are to meeting your new family member!

A great time to wash baby clothing is around 6 weeks before your baby is due to arrive unless you have known risks of premature birth. In this case, arrange to do this earlier in your pregnancy and put them away in your baby’s drawers, ready for wear.

Instead of your usual washing powder, you might like to use a special laundry detergent suited to newborns to avoid skin irritation.

This is also time to wash your baby’s sheets and bedding too.

Baby Shower

If you are planning to host a baby shower or gender reveal party during your pregnancy, the ideal time to do this is in the latter half of your second trimester or at the start of your third trimester.

This gives you enough time to organise everything, without getting too close to your due date in case the baby arrives early.

A baby shower can be a wonderful way to celebrate with friends and family and get some of the must-have baby gear that you need, such as baby clothes, nappies, and some of the bigger items you need once the baby is born.

Some parents choose to have a baby registry to help guests to know what you need, while others prefer not to do this.

Related Reading: Clever Pregnancy Announcement Ideas

Preparing For Labour

There are many ways you can help to prepare your body for labour and ease some of the potential complications that are common during birth.

If you were active prior to birth, it is a good idea to maintain this (with your doctor’s advice). If you were not overly active, adding some light exercise such as a short daily walk or gentle pregnancy yoga can help improve your fitness and endurance for birth.

Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you experience any pain, stop and rest.

Breathing exercises are incredibly helpful during labour as they help you to stay calm and focus on something other than the pain.

They also have the added benefit of helping you to avoid an epidural or other pain

You can also start perineal massage in the later stages of pregnancy. This helps to stretch and soften the tissue around the vagina and reduces the risk of tearing during birth.

Some pregnant women like to invest in a waterproof bed pad to protect their bed during those final weeks of pregnancy in case their water breaks unexpectedly. This is a great idea if you are worried about damaging your mattress.

Packing Your Hospital Bag

Woman packing hospital bed before birth

Don’t leave packing your hospital bag until you’re already in labour! You will likely forget some of the essentials and it will add extra stress to an already nerve-wracking time.

Aim to have your bag packed by 36 weeks, with everything you need for both you and the baby. This also helps avoid that last-minute pregnancy brain fog! It’s definitely a thing.

You can find a comprehensive list of what to pack in your hospital bag here.

For you:

  • Toiletries
  • Comfortable pyjamas (button-up tops are great for nursing)
  • Dressing gown or jacket (hospitals can get cold)
  • Comfortable clothes to wear when going home
  • Nursing bras and pads
  • Loose, comfortable underwear
  • Maternity pads
  • Entertainment – books, magazines, snacks, phone, charger
  • Any extra items for your birth plan (music, candles, essential oils, etc)
  • Health insurance information
  • Identification
  • Birth plan

For baby:

  • Onesies
  • Beanies
  • Socks
  • Muslin wraps
  • Warmer baby blankets
  • Nappies
  • Wipes

Your hospital will likely have a list of things they recommend you bring with you during your prenatal appointments. If not, many prenatal classes and free baby classes will also offer a hospital packing list for birth.

Install Baby Carseats

All too often one of the things that get left to the last minute, and often after mum has already gone into labour, is installing the baby car seats.

This is one of those things that is best to get done a little sooner rather than after you’ve already had the baby.

Not only will it give you peace of mind knowing that they are installed and ready to go, but in the event that you do go into labour unexpectedly, you won’t have to worry about how you are getting your newborn home.

Here in Australia, there are many car repairs and roadside assistance companies that offer a free car seat fitting service.

This is a great way to have the work done professionally and to be sure that it has been done correctly.

If you don’t have access to this kind of service, most car seats come with fairly straightforward instructions on how to install them. Or get some help from some dad friends who have done it before!

Ways To Make Your Life Easier Once Your Baby Arrives

There are plenty of other ways you can simplify your life before your baby arrives. These tips will help make those first few weeks as expectant parents much easier.

Make Some Freezer Meals

Easy freezer meals

Plan some extra cooking so you can make some freezer meals prior to your due date. You can plan a batch cooking afternoon to make several meals in one day.

Or if you are short on time, double up some of your favourite meals so you can eat half and freeze the other half for after you bring your baby home.

You can find loads of delicious freezer meal ideas to get you started.

Stock Up On Essential Household Items

Another way to save time later by planning ahead is to stock up on household items that you use regularly.

This will save you a trip to the grocery store early on if you already have plenty of items such as toilet paper, a fully stocked pantry and frozen foods for easy meals after your baby’s arrival.

This is also the time to stock up on those postpartum essentials, such as maternity pads, nursing pads, pain relief and ice packs.

Declutter Your Home

While a full home declutter might not be on the agenda when you’re pregnant, making it a priority to clear out some of your worst clutter hotspots before your baby is due will help ease some of your anxieties about your messy house.

Mess = stress!

If the pregnancy nesting kicks in, you might not be able to resist the temptation to go on a decluttering spree! This 30-day declutter challenge is a good way to keep you motivated.

Free 30 day declutter challenge

Otherwise, just focus on the spaces that will have the biggest impact on you and your family, to help create a calm space for raising your newborn.

This might be decluttering your bedroom or the kitchen since they are two of the rooms you spend the most time in.

Arrange For Help

There are usually plenty of people who are willing to lead a hand after your baby arrives.

If you have family or friends who live close by, touch base with them before your baby is born to let them know you might need some help in those early weeks and months.

You can also hire a postpartum doula to help with things like cooking, cleaning and taking care of your other children while you recover from childbirth.

Or make a plan to have other household tasks taken care of by professional services, such as having your lawns mowed or hiring a diaper cleaning service if you plan to use cloth diapers.

Pre-Plan Your Birth Announcement

It can be fun to plan your birth announcements even before your baby is here. This means one less thing to worry about after you’ve given birth!

While you can’t have them ready to go just yet, you can have a plan for what you will do and whether you will hire a newborn photographer for a newborn photoshoot or if you plan to announce it in another way.

Enjoy Some Self-Care

Pregnant woman reading a book on the couch

When you are in the third trimester of pregnancy, it can feel like there is so much to do before the baby arrives. But it is essential to make some time for yourself before your new baby arrives.

Pregnancy is a time when your body is going through so many changes, and you deserve to take some time to pamper yourself. Consider getting a prenatal massage, a pedicure, a few extra naps or curling up with a book you’ve been meaning to read.

You may also want to consider investing in some quality self-care products that you will want to use after your baby is born.

A simple skincare routine can help you feel refreshed even when you are sleep deprived. So will a great quality new pillow!

Plan Some Date Nights

While you may be tired and feeling like you’ve got a gazillion things to fit in before you and your partner welcome your new family member, making quality time for just the two of you is important.

Date nights don’t have to be expensive or fancy, but they can help you feel connected as a couple.

If going out feels like too much effort when you are in your final trimester of pregnancy, consider ordering your favourite food and enjoying a quiet date night at home together.

Get Some Rest

As the saying goes, sleep when the baby sleeps. But right now, you can sleep whenever you have the time so make the most of uninterrupted sleep by going to bed early during your last trimester and making time to rest.

Check out these newborn gift ideas for your new baby and these sibling gift ideas from their new baby brother or sister.

The third trimester of pregnancy can be both an exciting and overwhelming time. But by making a few key preparations, you can help ease some of the stress and make the transition to life with a new baby a little bit smoother. I hope this checklist helps you get ready easier as your due date approaches!

Can you think of other ways to make life easier with a newborn? Share your tips below.

Things to do before baby arrives
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Liz

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Yes, they are all good tips. The visitor one is tricky for sure but it's good to know that you can say no. I will definitely be more prepared if we have no 2. Congratulations on your new arrival!

Holly

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Thanks Liz. Don't hesitate to say no if you need a break. Those first days are challenging learning everything again since babies are all so different. My new bundle is far more hard work than my first but still pretty good x

Tasha P

Tuesday 30th of June 2015

We have just welcomed a new addition to the family, he is 7 weeks, and my eldest is nearly 2 years. I wasn't sure what to expect, I just knew I'd be busy. I'm now seeing the benefit in freezer meals, and slow cooker meals I can put on and forget about. I've also started pre making snacks and lunches, freezing them, and getting them out the night before for the days I just don't have time or the hands to prepare food. Washing is a moot point, I've had to leave that to hubby. Our 2 year old just wants to run away whenever we go out to the clothesline. Spirited little thing hehe

I absolutely wish I had help, though. No family and only a few friends who work full time where we live. But I'm managing! Mums manage with less :-) We're pretty amazing like that Xx

Holly

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Congrats on your new little guy too. You're right, mums are amazing & resilient. Toddlers keep our hands full enough on their own but can be a little help at times too... Maybe ;) Your pre-prepared snacks is a great idea x

Renee Wilson

Tuesday 30th of June 2015

Excellent tips for a new mum, Holly. I remember with a smile on my face those days 'in waiting' when I stocked up on nappies and washed all of the clothes in Lux so they smelt delicious. Ahh. Hope all is going well with your little one x #teamIBOT

Holly

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Lux is definitely the new baby smell. Brings such good memories smelling it now. Our senses are a powerful emotional reminder :)