A mom’s to-do list is long and arduous — and it starts long before the baby comes. There are so many things to research and to think about before the birth that it can fill up a woman’s day planner and make her wonder if she will ever be truly ready for the baby.
While there are plenty of items on the list throughout the pregnancy, the 28 week mark, when the third trimester begins, is a biggie. At that point, the due date is only a few months away, and moms are well aware that labor could begin well before that. That’s when the reality of the medical side of the birth hits hard, when women start to realize that they will be moms before they know it, when all of the responsibilities of taking care of an infant, breastfeeding and even choosing a name starts to set in. The baby registry needs to be completed in time for the showers and the mom needs to choose a pediatrician and a photographer. Things are coming to a climax quickly, and that means even more pressure.
We’ve got some tips that can help a woman make sure she has a handle on the third trimester. She still has a lot to decide, but this might help her check a few items off of her list. Here are 20 things moms should start doing by the third trimester.
20 Downstairs Exercises! (They’ll Help You Recover Faster)
When you reach the third trimester, the birth starts looming large. Moms need to get their body’s ready, and that means that they should do their daily kegel exercises. The exercises strengthen the pelvic floor, which includes the vaginal walls, and they can help the mom’s lower muscles maintain their strength as the baby sitting on top of them gets even bigger. But the biggest comes during the delivery, as a strong pelvic floor can enable a mom to do a good job pushing.
Kegels are a little tricky. Since moms can’t see them, they have to rely on the feel, and one of the best tips for figuring out the muscles is to try to stop the urine midstream while going to the bathroom. Those are the muscles you should tighten and release in multiple reps each day before the birth. No one can tell you are doing them, so do them in the line at the grocery store or during your morning commute. As the labor gets closer, the more you will want to be sure to get in a lot of reps, but you definitely need to get started by the third trimester.
19 Writing Your Birth Plan
Many women think that writing a birth plan can be done in an afternoon. But the point of the plan isn’t so much in the writing but in the researching, and a mom-to-be should really start her work on that by the time she enters the third trimester. There are a lot of things to learn — not just the different types of pain relief available to the mom but also the different scenarios that might happen and require a quick decision.
Some women start off thinking that their birth plan needs to be a rigid document so that the nurses will believe them. But the best birth plans allow for flexibility in the many situations that can come along. Moms should really put some thought into the birth plan and keep her baby’s health and her own at the top of her mind. It’ll take longer than you expect to do all the research and weigh things through, so be sure to get started by the third trimester.
18 Have The Baby Registry Ready
Babies need lots of things — and luckily family and friends are generous when they get excited about the arrival of a baby. Moms should definitely be ready and willing to accept the gifts, but that means that they have to work ahead of time to complete a baby registry.
Wish lists are great because they allow friends to give gifts that will match the baby’s nursery and that the mom actually needs. Without a registry, the baby could end up with 30 bottles but no burp cloths, for example. All moms have preferences, and the registry helps friends to have an idea of what she would prefer for her bundle of joy. Most showers are the third trimester, so if the mom hasn’t completed her registry by then, she’ll need to get it done soon.
17 Talking To Your Boss About Maternity Leave
Being pregnant at work can be awkward, especially for women who are worried that people will think that she is less dedicated to her career or that it might not be good timing for a promotion. But we do think that moms-to-be owe it to their employers to discuss their maternity leave, so that they can try to make plans.
It can be difficult to know exactly when your maternity leave will come, as most women would prefer to wait until the labor and delivery to take time off so that they can save their time for when the baby is here. According to federal law, employers must protect a woman’s job for up to 12 weeks, although they do not have to pay her. Some companies offer short-term disability benefits that can offer some compensation if they don’t offer maternity leave pay. Either way, there is a benefit to the mom and to the employer to have a discussion about the maternity leave and what they both should expect. It doesn’t mean that a mom has to decide between a six week leave and a 12 week leave or set any dates, but giving her employer a head’s up is courteous and might helpfor the leave to go more smoothly.
16 Baby’s Sleep Space
Many moms might want to put the baby nursery on their to-do list for the third trimester, but we want to point out that it is OK if the baby is born before the nursery is done. That can put the stress off, but there is one thing that the mom needs to get started by the third trimester, and that is figuring out the baby’s sleep space.
Doctors recommend that the baby has a dedicated space that isn’t the mom’s bed, although many moms do choose to co-sleep. Research has proven that staying in the room with the mom, possibly in a bassinet or a baby box, is very beneficial for the first few weeks of life. However, some women find that they sleep better if the baby is in her own room. As long as there is a dedicated safe place to sleep for the baby, everything should be OK, but moms need to get going on it by the third trimester so it’s ready when mom and baby come home from the hospital.
15 Checking With Insurance On Delivery
There are wide variations in how much a mom will have to pay in out-of-pocket expenses, including co-pays and meeting her deductible. She also needs to be aware that she’s likely to get a bill from the hospital and another one from the doctor. While the expense can be stressful, finding out ahead of time can allow her to prepare. And most medical providers will allow parents to set up payment plans to make the costs more manageable.
14 Preparing For Breastfeeding
One of the biggest responsibilities of a mom in the beginning of her baby’s life is to make sure that the baby is well fed. If she’s going to breastfeed, that can be very daunting since the mom can’t see how much the baby is consuming and she has to trust her body to do its job. Plus, many moms talk about how painful and difficult breastfeeding can be, which makes moms-to-be really worried about how she will do.
That’s why we recommend that moms start preparing by the third trimester to get themselves ready for the task, which starts within minutes of the birth. Moms should read as much as they can, and maybe even sign up for a breastfeeding class. She might want to put a special pillow on her registry or other recommended materials. It’s definitely best to take the time to be prepared.
13 Choosing A Pediatrician
Many moms like to interview doctors to choose one that matches their style and makes them feel comfortable. That can take time. Many times the pediatrician will come to meet the baby at the hospital for the first examination, so starting the search by the third trimester is the key.
12 Picking Out A Newborn Photographer
This one wouldn’t have been on the list five years ago, but these days there are fabulously talented photographers out there ready to capture the images of your sweet newborn. Most of the time, though, they book up well in advance, so moms-to-be need to get them committed early on by the third trimester.
Some moms want photographers to be at the birth or shortly thereafter, but others prefer a professional shoot a week or so after the birth. Either way, you have to plan ahead. Most photographers want to book a day around the due date, although they will be flexible if the baby comes early or late. Plus, many times their packages include a photo of mom with the baby in her belly. That can help create the bond for the newborn shoot, so it’s great to get going and have the session booked well in advance.
11 Washing Baby Clothes And Bedding
The smell of fresh baby laundry puts the maternal hormones into overdrive, and the task is anything but mundane. We do want to point out that moms might not want to wash tons of newborn sized clothes, as the baby might grow out of them within a week. But the 0-3 months clothes are still small enough to make a mom-to-be’s heart skip a beat. It’s one of the best tasks to prepare her for motherhood during the third trimester.
10 Stocking Up On Diapers
There is one baby item that all moms need to stock up on, and if she starts early it might help the wallet. That’s why we recommend that moms start stocking up on diapers by the third trimester. No one wants to come home from the hospital and then have to go to the store, so having a few boxes at home can really help.
Whether moms choose cloth diapers or store-bought ones, we recommend that she doesn’t stock too many of the smallest size. You’ll be surprised how quickly the baby will go to a size 2, possibly in the first month or two. So if you are having a diaper bash — and we highly recommend one — encourage your friends to buy different sizes that you can save for later. Believe us, they will be put to good use.
9 Researching The Car Seat
There is a lot of baby gear that ends up on the baby registry, but there is only one high-priced item that absolutely has to be ready by the time the baby is born — the car seat. Unless the mom is walking home, she will have to have a properly installed seat to bring the baby home, and many hospitals won’t release the baby until they have checked on the seat.
There are many options for car seats, including infant seats that can be clipped into a base and taken out with the baby inside and convertible seats that can be changed to forward facing seats and booster seats. Moms need to do their research to find out which works for them and their vehicle. And they need to have the seat ready and installed before the last month of pregnancy just in case labor starts early. So get to it because there isn’t as much time as you think.
8 Signing Up For A Birth Class
As much as women have heard about giving birth, they can be pretty anxious about the experience. If you have never gone through it before, it’s impossible to wrap your mind around what is going to happen and how you need to react to it. That’s why we strongly recommend that women sign up for a birth class, and that need to do it by the time the third trimester starts, since some are several weeks long and they might have to wait for an opening.
In addition to looking for services like La Leche League, most hospitals have classes that they offer for expecting couples. Usually taught by nurses or doulas, the instructor will go over the stages of labor and introduce some natural breathing techniques. These are useful even for women who plan to have an epidural or a C-section in case labor begins before expected. Many times, the class also includes a hospital tour, and that can do a lot to make a woman feel prepared and ready for labor to begin.
7 Read Up On Newborn Care
In addition to learning about the labor, it’s definitely time to figure out how to care for the newborn. Even women who paid for college by being a nanny or who practically raised siblings probably missed out on the care for the first few weeks, and that is when motherhood is the scariest. There are a lot of things to know, and if you don’t start reading until the due date, you aren’t going to get through it.
There are many great books and apps that can help prepare a new mom. They talk about feedings and diaper changes as well as the best way to hold a newborn, how to trim their tiny nails and take care of the umbilical cord stump. And there are tips about medical issues that might come up and more. We recommending bookmarking a few sections to come back to when you begin caring for the baby, but that last trimester is the perfect time to start reading up.
6 Gather Supplies For After The Birth (Make Sure You Have Maxi Pads)
Most moms-to-be spend their third trimester focusing on what the baby will need when he comes home from the hospital. But she also needs to start gathering supplies for herself to get through the immediate postpartum period. There are some things you can bring home from the hospital, but you need to stock up on some items too.
The No. 1 thing is definitely some thick maxi pads. Women might not have stocked up on those supplies for months, but after the birth, she’s going to have a discharge that lasts more than a month, so it’s best to have a couple of packages on hand. There are special ice bags that are great for the first few days, and witch hazel pads can be really soothing. By the third trimester, it’s great to have some of these things ready so mom doesn’t have to suffer.
5 Decide What To Do With The Extra That Follows The Baby
For some moms, there isn’t much to worry about when it comes to the placenta. It’s an organ that was very useful during the pregnancy, bringing oxygen and blood and nutrients to the baby, but after the birth, it’s disposed of without a thought. More and more moms these days, though, are deciding to ingest the placenta after the birth.
While there isn’t as much research that backs up claims, many women have said that the placenta has helped them avoid postpartum depression and helped build up their health after the birth. There are recipes to put the organ into a smoothie or to saute it in a frying pan. Some women dry it and encapsulate it, so they don’t really taste it so much. There are services that can help, and some doulas do the work, but moms have to decide by the third trimester so they can get everything ready for after the birth.
4 Freeze Some Meals
When you come home with a brand new baby, the last thing you want to worry about is cooking. Considering how much work goes in to keeping the baby fed, many moms don’t have the energy to figure out — much less plan, shop and cook — what she and her partner will eat.
That’s why we recommend that the mom start in the third trimester to make some meals ahead and freeze them. There are lots of recipes for casseroles that keep well, and lately moms have taken advantage of the make-ahead ingredients for slow cookers (although you have to remember after a night of little sleep to get that started in the morning). Sometimes family and friends will help out by providing a few meals, but it’s definitely a good idea to make some ahead of times, and you should get started by the third trimester.
3 Buy A Couple Of Nursing Bras Or Tanks
Breastfeeding might be cheaper than formula feeding, but there are some things that moms need to get to prepare themselves for the task ahead of them. If they choose to go straight to the bottle, then they should have a can of formula or two at home for when the baby comes home from the hospital, just as she also has to be prepared to nurse from the very beginning.
We recommend buying a couple of nursing bras or tanks to have at the ready when she becomes a mom. She isn’t going to want to go to the store to shop, and while she might be tempted to go braless at first, she is eventually going to need support for the girls. Often, a woman’s breasts can get even bigger when they fill with milk, so don’t buy too many, but one or two bras or tanks will come in handy to give the baby quick access to breastfeeding while providing support in between the feedings.
2 Make A Plan For Introducing The Baby To Older Siblings Or Pets
A new baby changes the lives of everyone in the family — that includes any older siblings and the fur babies in the family. While you might start talking to siblings about the baby early, by the third trimester, you need to start making plans for how to introduce the little one to the rest of the family in a way that will help make the transition easier.
For kids, that might mean buying a gift from the baby to the big brother or sister or deciding if the grandparents will bring him to the hospital. For a dog or a cat, the mom should consider sending dad home with the baby’s blanket before the baby comes home to get the pet used to the new baby’s scent. They should also make plans for how to give the baby and the older sibling — furry or not — space to feel special apart. It might take time to figure out the best strategy for the family, so starting out with a few months to go is definitely a good idea.
1 A Baby Name List
This is one item on the list that most moms have definitely gotten started by the start of the third trimester — some might have even started it back in high school. But when the birth is only a few months away, the baby naming process can kick into high gear. The responsibility of naming a child can take a lot of time, so the list at the beginning of the third trimester can really just be a jumping off point for some families.
There are so many things to think about and debate, shop for and set up before the baby arrives, and at the back of every parent’s mind is what the little one will be called. Sometimes the answer doesn’t come until after the baby’s born, but starting early can make all the difference and help moms check at least one item off their list.