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Your Third Trimester Checklist: What to Learn, Do, and Decide

Looking for a checklist of things you need to do during the third trimester? This blog post is for you! This is a comprehensive list of things you need to learn, do, and decide during the third trimester. Plus, you can download a free PDF version, too!

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Once you get to the third trimester, the fact that you’re going to have a baby soon really starts to feel real. With that excitement, though, comes a list of things you need to do before the baby arrives.

It can be stressful to try to remember all the things you still need to do, so I’ve assembled a list for you!

Some of these things you might have done already, some are logistical, and some are more fun. 

As you go through it, don’t stress. Three months provides a lot of time to get things done, and I have lots of resources to help you along the way.

Without further ado, let’s dive in. Here is your third trimester checklist.

A Comprehensive Third Trimester Checklist

I’m not gonna lie… this list is kinda long. To break it up, I’ve divided it into 6 sections: learning and decisions, preparing for birth, getting ready for baby, prepping for postpartum, taking care of you, and fun.

Let’s start with learning and decisions.

Learning and Decisions

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and taking care of a baby. There are also some decisions to make as you near the day of birth. Here are some of the most important things to learn and decide during the third trimester.

Take a childbirth class.

If you haven’t already, sign up for and take a childbirth class. I recommend The Bradley Method. I also like HypnoBirthing. Those two are big name classes that are well-established.

If neither one suits you, you can also find lots of other classes taught by individuals and smaller companies through a quick online search.

READ MORE >> Choosing a Natural Childbirth Class: Comparing the Big 3

Understand cervical checks.

As you near the end of your pregnancy, your care provider may start doing cervical checks on you. Before this begins (often around week 36), make sure you know your options!

Cervical checks during pregnancy don’t tell you much at all – they certainly aren’t necessary. And they present risks that could be totally avoided by saying no to cervical checks.

One element of prenatal cervical checks you’ll want to learn about is membrane sweeping. It’s a form of induction that some care providers will do without even asking for consent. 

To learn more, check out these blog posts:

Learn about newborn procedures.

Immediately after your baby is born, he or she will experience lots of things. Particularly if you give birth in the hospital, it’s important that you understand what the doctors and nurses will want to do with your baby and why.

For example, most babies will receive a shot containing vitamin K within a few hours of being born. Vitamin K is important for newborns, but a shot immediately after birth isn’t the only option. Vitamin K drops are also available and can be just as effective as the shot.

In addition to vitamin K, you’ll want to learn about antibacterial eye ointment, the Hepatitis B vaccine, the importance of bonding, delayed cord clamping, and more!

READ MORE >> What Happens To Baby After Birth?

Decide about circumcision.

If you are having a boy, now is a good time to learn about circumcision and decide whether or not that is what you want for your son. Circumcision is generally safe, though it can cause pain and does carry some risk.

Most parents who decide to circumcise their boys do it for religious or cultural reasons. To learn more about circumcision, go here.

Learn about newborn care.

Taking care of a baby requires skills and knowledge you’ve never had to develop before. You can take a class about caring for a newborn baby or you can learn on your own.

Try to learn about these 8 categories:

  • Handling a newborn safely
  • Feeding
  • Diaper changing
  • Swaddling and safe sleep
  • Hygiene
  • Dressing
  • Bonding and soothing
  • Rashes and sickness

If you’ve practiced changing a diaper and wrapping a swaddle or two before your baby comes (on a doll, for example), it will be that much easier once you’re doing it on your actual baby.

And if you’re familiar with different kinds of rashes, for example – or at least have a book to reference – it will be less worrisome the first time your baby gets a rash.

Take a breastfeeding class.

Breastfeeding is a miracle and it’s the best way to feed a baby. At the same time, it can be challenging. There’s a lot to it (getting the latch right, how to hold your baby, how to keep your supply up) so the more you can learn now, the better it will likely go.

One option for learning about breastfeeding is to take a class specifically dedicated to breastfeeding. Alternatively, you can do what I did and read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and start joining La Leche League meetings.

La Leche League (LLL) is an international organization with the sole purpose of supporting breastfeeding women. They hold free monthly meetings all over the world for women who want live support. And now the meetings are usually online, so you can join from the comfort of your home.

LLL leaders are great because you can text them in between meetings for support. I texted my LLL leader several times with questions and she checked in on me repeatedly in the first few weeks with my baby.

RELATED >> 10 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
RELATED >> 20 Breastfeeding Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier

Preparing for Birth

You’ve likely been learning about birth and beginning to prepare already, but now’s the time to kick that into gear. Here are some things you should do during the third trimester to prepare for birth.

Make final decisions about labor and birth.

In order to have the birth you want, you need to know your options and make your decisions beforehand. The big one here is deciding how you want to cope – by using medications or with natural techniques.

Also make sure to learn about the common interventions you’ll be offered during birth, like Pitocin and fetal monitoring, which you can learn about in The Cascade of Interventions [Explained].

Hire a doula.

If you want a doula, now is the time to hire one. If you don’t know if you want a doula, now is the time to learn about doulas and decide if you want to hire one.

I think you’ll find this blog post helpful: What is a Doula and How Can They Make Your Birth Better?.

Pre-register with your hospital.

If you plan to give birth in the hospital, you can usually pre-register. That means you can fill out lots of the paperwork about insurance and that kind of thing beforehand so it’s ready to go once labor starts and you need care.

That will make the process of getting into your hospital room a lot smoother and decrease the chances of labor slowing.

Talk to your hospital to find out how to pre-register.

Tour your place of birth.

If you are giving birth at home, you can skip this one. But if you’re planning on giving birth in the hospital or a birth center, schedule a tour so you’re familiar with the space before the big day.

Gather supplies or pack your bags.

If you are giving birth at home, it’s time to start gathering all the supplies you’ll need. You can reference The Ultimate List of Home Birth Supplies to make things easier.

If you will be going somewhere else to give birth, it’s time to pack your bags. (You may want to pack a bag even if you plan to give birth at home so it’s ready to go in the case of a hospital transfer.)

Pack a change of clothes for you, your husband, and the baby, as well as other things you’ll want, like hair ties, your toothbrush, and your phone charger.

Make a labor playlist.

If you want music or meditations to help you through labor, making a playlist is a good thing to do during the third trimester. You may want to create several – one for meditations, one for slow music, one for upbeat music, etc.

If you’ll be in the hospital for birth, you might want to ask what they typically allow – a bluetooth speaker, earbuds, etc. – so you can make your playlists with that in mind.

Arrange for child and pet care.

Unless you are giving birth at home AND you want your pets and kids around throughout labor, it’s time to make arrangements for their care while you are giving birth.

Keep in mind that, unless you plan to be induced or schedule a c-section, birth could happen anytime within a period of several weeks. That means you’ll want to make sure your child care provider isn’t going on a big vacation or anything around the time of your due date.

Download a contraction timer app.

As contractions start, it’s a good idea to keep track of how long they last and how far apart they are. This will help you know where you’re at in labor and how soon to go to your place of birth. 

The simplest way to do this is to download a contraction timer app. I recommend downloading one on both your phone and your husband’s phone so he can take over once things get intense.

Keep your car full of gas.

As the end of pregnancy nears, try to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. You don’t want to be on empty when it’s time to go to the hospital or birth center.

Getting Ready for Baby

The third trimester is an ideal time to set up your baby’s nursery or the space they’ll be in. It’s also the time to make sure you have everything you need to care for a baby. Let’s look at what you’ll need to do and buy to get your home ready for baby.

Buy diapers.

Several weeks before your due date, make sure you stock up on diapers. I recommend you get a pack of newborn size and a pack or two of size 1.

You won’t know for sure how big your baby is until he or she is born, so having both is a safe bet. I prefer Costco brand diapers. They seem to work the best for us, and they’re the cheapest!

Wash and organize the baby clothes.

Chances are you’ve already started to gather baby clothes. Now it’s time to get them ready for your little one. Get some nice detergent and wash the clothes. (I use this plant-based brand.)

Next, organize the clothes into sizes so you aren’t grabbing 9-month clothes for your newborn. 

You can put bigger sizes away in bins for now. Keep newborn and 0-3 month sizes in the dresser for easy access as your baby grows.

Set up baby stations.

Two of the things you’ll be doing most with your newborn are feeding and changing diapers. To make those things easier, set up your baby stations: one for nursing and one for diaper changing. 

For more about how to set these stations up, check out my blog post here.

Set up your baby’s bed and sleep space.

One thing your baby will be doing a lot of is sleeping. The third trimester is a great time to set up your baby’s bed (whether that be a traditional crib or an alternative). Wash the sheets and assemble the bed according to the instructions.

As you set up your baby’s bed, you also need to be conscious of how you set up the entire sleep space.

First, you need to make sure it’s safe. That means a firm mattress; no pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in the bed; and nothing hanging above the bed that could fall.

Second, you need to create an environment that’s ideal for sleep. Babies need it dark – like really dark – to sleep the best. They also do well with white noise, like a fan or a noise maker. 

Buy and install a car seat.

In order to leave the hospital, you have to have a car seat installed for your baby. And, of course, even if you don’t give birth in the hospital, you’ll need a car seat eventually. 

Newborn car seats come in lots of styles but they’re all pretty much the same. You can buy a car base along with the seat to make it easier to put baby in the car. (You buckle the base into the car and leave it there, then the seat just clicks into the base.)

Get a stroller.

One of my favorite things to do in those first few weeks with my daughter was to go on walks. And for that, we needed a stroller. Walks can help you get moving again after birth and can help babies calm down.

I recommend getting a travel system – a package deal that includes a car seat, a car base, and a stroller. In a travel system, the car seat simply clicks into the stroller which makes it really easy to transfer them from inside or from the car to the stroller.

Choose a pediatrician.

Reaching the third trimester also means it’s time to choose a pediatrician for your baby. Your baby will likely see a pediatrician before you leave the hospital, if that’s where you give birth.

If you give birth in a different location, your midwives will perform the same tests and checks as a pediatrician would. 

After that first check, most babies will see a pediatrician every few months for a checkup.

Note: All that said, you are not required to take your baby to checkups according to the recommended schedule. If you prefer to approach health more holistically and naturally, you can absolutely choose not to go to a pediatrician. I took my daughter to one appointment at 2 months old and she hasn’t been back since.

Recommendation: If you are in Northern Utah and are looking for a holistic pediatrician, try The Alpine Clinic in Lehi.

Buy the rest of the baby supplies.

Once you’ve had your baby shower (which we’ll talk about in a moment), you’ll want to go through your registry and buy anything you need that you didn’t receive as a gift. Don’t spend too much, though. You need relatively little to care for a baby well.

If you’re on the fence about buying something, I recommend waiting until after your baby arrives to see if you actually need it. 

Prepping for Postpartum

Postpartum can be a challenging time. You’re healing and learning to care for a tiny human. But the more you do now to prepare, the more likely it is to go well. Here are some things to do to prepare for postpartum.

Make freezer meals.

I highly recommend taking a Saturday morning during your third trimester to make some freezer meals. Having food you like that you can pop in the Instant Pot or the oven makes meals SO much easier in those first few weeks postpartum.

In 21 Freezer Meals for Postpartum I share the exact meals I made during the third trimester of my first pregnancy so you don’t have to do the work of finding good recipes.

Gather postpartum recovery supplies.

Healing from birth goes best if you have a few supplies ready. At minimum, you’ll need some heavy pads and a peri bottle for spraying yourself clean. (Wiping is a no-go for a few days.)

If you want a little more, I recommend getting a good natural healing salve, some perineal spray, and a belly binder.

You can learn more about each item and why I recommend them here.

Decide how to manage visitors.

Everybody wants to come see your baby after he or she is born. But neither you nor your baby are going to want people there all the time. In fact, I recommend you wait a day or two to have anyone over and then have just one person (or family) come per day.

The nice thing about having visitors over is that they can help around the house! Many people will offer to help when they come. Keep a list of things you need done, and you’ll know how to have them help, whether that be doing a load of dishes or running to the grocery store.

Make a plan for birth control.

After you give birth, your period may come back sooner than you think. Some women return to their normal cycle within just a few weeks of giving birth. If you don’t want to get pregnant again right away, you’ll need a plan for birth control.

You can usually start taking a birth control pill 6 weeks after birth, if that’s what you want to do. If you’re considering other hormonal options, talk to your care provider.

Another option is to simply track your cycle and only have sex when it’s least likely that you’ll get pregnant (i.e. not when you’re ovulating).

Figure out maternity leave.

Finally, if you’re working and you plan to go back to work after giving birth, talk to your employer about maternity leave. Make sure you fill out any necessary paperwork and do what you need to make sure your responsibilities will be covered.

If you plan to be done working once you have your baby, you’ll want to decide how soon to be done. Some women work up until the day labor begins. Others, like me, stop a few weeks before the due date.

Taking Care of You

As pregnancy goes on, it only gets more important to take good care of yourself. Your physical and emotional health affects your baby and your birth experience. Here are a few things to do (or keep doing) during the third trimester to take care of yourself.

Keep exercising.

Whatever you do, don’t stop moving your body as you enter the third trimester. Even though your belly is getting big and you’re probably feeling tired, do what you can to keep exercising. Any workout will do you good.

If all you can do is go on walks, that’s great! Walking is a great way to get your body ready for labor and help your baby settle into a good position for birth.

My all-time favorite workouts, whether I’m pregnant or not, are from Barre3. If you don’t know what to do for exercise, check them out.

Start labor prep exercises.

In addition to your normal workouts, the third trimester is the ideal time to do certain exercises and stretches to target the muscles you’ll rely on most during labor. There are six exercises that are widely recommended: squats, kegels, pelvic tilts, butterflies, tailor sitting, and walking.

I explain the benefits of and how to do each one in 6 Exercises to Prepare Your Body for Labor.

Practice coping techniques.

If you plan to give birth unmedicated (and even if that’s not the plan), one of the best ways to prepare for birth is to practice natural coping techniques. You’ll learn different techniques depending on which childbirth class you take.

The list of possible coping techniques is nearly endless. To make it easier, I like to think of these techniques as fitting in 5 categories: movement, touch, self-calming, words, and environment. 

To learn about each, check out How to Cope With Contractions: Natural Pain Relief During Labor.

Address your fears.

Whether because of the culture we grew up in or other family or personal experiences, we all carry fears about birth. Some are more obvious than others, but we all have them.

The problem is fear makes birth more painful. Fear leads to tension in the body and tension makes contractions more painful. So if you want birth to be a more pleasant experience, it’s a really good idea to honestly address your fears about it.

I talk about how to address your fears in How Not to Be Scared of Giving Birth, specifically in tip #9.

Eat lots of protein.

If you haven’t heard yet, let me tell you: protein is SO important during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. Eating well overall is important for your health and your baby’s health. Protein just has extra special roles during pregnancy. 

Protein helps you maintain a healthy blood volume, which helps you avoid complications like preeclampsia. It also helps your baby gain weight so he or she is a healthy size at birth.

Pregnant women need at least 80 grams of protein per day, but many need even more than that. 

To learn more, check out these blog posts:

Stay hydrated.

Water is also important during pregnancy. It contributes to a healthy blood volume, along with protein and salt. Water also helps with digestion and makes it possible for your body to absorb certain vitamins.

Additionally, water plays a role in maintaining an adequate level of amniotic fluid. (Too little amniotic fluid can be dangerous.)

Keep going to prenatal appointments.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but don’t stop going to prenatal appointments! In these final months and weeks, your baby will grow and develop a lot. You’ll want a care provider monitoring you and your baby to make sure no warning signs arise.

Keep asking questions and building a relationship with your care provider. Your understanding and your relationship with them will affect how your birth goes!

Get your Rh injection, if needed.

Occasionally, a mother and baby will have incompatible blood. This happens when a mother has a negative blood type (A-, B-, AB-, or O-) and her baby has a positive blood type. When this is the case, a mother’s body may build antibodies to fight against her baby’s positive blood cells.

To avoid the possibility of a mother’s immune system attacking her baby’s blood cells, the mother receives a shot (called RhoGAM or an Rh injection) that stops her immune system from creating those antibodies. 

If you have a negative blood type and your husband has a positive blood type, you will likely need to get the Rh injection. If you haven’t already, the third trimester is the time to get the shot.

Fun

Thankfully, some of the things to do during the third trimester are a lot more fun than some of the others. Let’s finish by talking about those fun things.

Finish your baby registry.

If you haven’t already, it’s crunch time for your baby registry. Finish adding all the items you’re hoping for so people can start to purchase them for you.

If you need some help knowing what to put on (and what not to), check out The Baby Registry List I Wish I’d Had.

Do a baby shower.

Often, the third trimester is when women do their baby showers. Shoot for about two months before your due date in case your baby comes a little early.

Do a photoshoot.

Now that you’re in the third trimester, your baby bump is bigger. That makes the third trimester a great time for a maternity photoshoot.

You don’t have to pay a ton for pictures. You could even do them with your own phone and a tripod, if that’s what works for you!

I’ve heard a lot of women say they wish they’d done pictures (myself included). I took a few here and there but I didn’t do a full shoot with cute clothes and makeup. Is it a big deal? No. But if you’re on the fence about taking pictures, I say go for it!

Start a baby book.

If it’s your kind of thing, you can also start a baby book. If you have one ready to go before your baby arrives, it’s more likely you’ll write things down. Plus, you’ll have a place to put any keepsakes (like those cute little footprints!).

Keep having sex.

I bet you didn’t expect to see this one on here. But it’s true! It’s absolutely okay – and a great idea – to keep having sex throughout the third trimester. Not only can it keep your marriage strong, it can also help you relax.

Plus, semen contains prostaglandins and having sex releases oxytocin, and both of those hormones play a role in the start of labor. So having sex around the time of your due date may encourage labor to start!

Buy clothes that fit.

Finally, if it fits in the budget, buy clothes that fit. It can be hard to feel like you look your best during pregnancy, but that’s no reason to wear clothes you don’t like.

Get creative with the clothes you already own or buy some new pieces so you can go out and actually feel like yourself.

Conclusion: A List to Help You Feel Less Stress

So there it is – your third trimester checklist. If it all seems overwhelming, just take a deep breath. Three months is a long time. Plus, this list isn’t meant to be a list of must-dos that you have to check off in order to be able to give birth.

The point of this checklist is actually the opposite – a tool to help you feel LESS stressed, since you don’t have to try to remember all these things! Download or print the PDF version of the checklist and use it to know what still needs to be done.

And, finally, try to enjoy this trimester. I know it can be hard. But it can also be fun and exciting. Don’t let the to-dos steal the joy.

Until next time,

Allison

Don’t forget the printable version!

READ MORE:

How to Prepare for Postpartum: The Ultimate Guide

Is Your Due Date Wrong? Here’s How to Make it More Accurate

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