Pregnancy checklists are all over the internet and everyone thinks you need different things. What do you REALLY need? I know because I asked that question, too – three times! Let’s answer it once and for all!
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Preparing for a baby is tricky. Everyone has opinions of what you “need to do”. The problem is the definition of “need” varies from person to person.
I’ve done this baby thing three times, and my definition of “need” even varied from baby to baby! So what I’ve done for you is create my ultimate to do list to prepare yourself for pregnancy, labor, and to actually bring that sweet baby home!
I know it looks overwhelming. That’s why I categorized it in bite-sized chunks.
Small goals add up and always feel more manageable to me. Just look at where you are now, and go from there!
To do before 12 weeks:
Start taking bump pictures!
It’s so fun to watch that little bump grow!
Make first midwife/OB apt with a provider you trust.
This is usually around 8-10 weeks. This is going to determine the course of your pregnancy and birth. I got bounced around my practice at the time, and ended up a doctor I didn’t trust when I was pregnant with Ella, who almost strong-armed me into an induction I didn’t want, then a C-section I didn’t want or need, but that’s a story for another day.
You’ll be vulnerable when you’re in labor. Not only within yourself, but for your baby, because you’ll want him or her safe and healthy. Make sure you trust the people around you with your and your baby’s lives.
While a healthy mom and baby is the goal, I believe with my whole heart mom should feel confident, supported, and comfortable with her decisions, and at the end of it all, be happy with how she experienced birth. I’ve been on both sides of it, and feeling happy with how your baby was born far beats the alternative.
Have fun with this! We did separate announcements to family first, then publicly several weeks later.
With Sophia, we framed an ultrasound and let our parents unwrap it, and did announcement photography for our public announcement.
With Ella it was Christmastime, so I wrapped up a little box and put a pea on the inside of, and let our families open it.
For our public announcement, we did a homemade photoshoot with an ultrasound and a lemon, which she was the size of at the time.
Then with Lexi, we signed a birthday card for my dad and Joey’s mom that said something along the lines of, “The kids are so thankful you’re their Poppy/Grandma… All 3 of them!” The confusion and surprised faces were pricelss. For our public announcement with Lexi, we did a similar thing as we did with Ella. Nothing fancy, just a print out from Etsy, an ultrasound, and a Note 9 camera.
I wrote a whole post about how I did our pregnancy announcements for cheap! Check it out here.
Start unisom and B6.
This is the “homemade” version of Diclegis. I did this with my midwife’s approval and it was a godsend for me!
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor by any stretch. Please consult with your doctor or midwife before beginning any medication.
Get out maternity clothes and wash.
If it’s your first, start browsing garage sales or the Facebook marketplace for lots of maternity clothes. I got a great deal doing this and paid $100 for 3 trash bags full!
After all, you’ll be needing them soon! I listed some of my all time favorite pregnancy products to improve your comfort in this post!
Tell the older siblings.
This is really up to you when you want to do this. With our third baby, we did this by taking them to my first ultrasound, showing them the screen, and videoing the expression on their faces when we told them there was a baby in Mommy’s belly… Priceless!
Download pregnancy apps to track baby’s growth.
I loved the relax music app, Glo baby, what to expect, and the bump apps. It’s so fun to see how big baby is getting and what is developing this week!
Start reading everything you can get your hands on about birth.
When I was pregnant with Sophia, I blindly trusted what I was told, and it’s one of my biggest regrets. In between hers and Ella’s births, I learned SO much; but it was so late in the game, I knew very little about positions, doulas, comfort measures, and breathing techniques.
Ina May Gaskin is absolutely AMAZING. If I could have seen her as my midwife, I would have in a heartbeat; but I still learned a ton from her through the Business of Being Born and her book, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth“.
I devoured information about pregnancy, labor, and birth, and understanding the anatomy of the body, your brain, and your baby, and how certain things affected her or things that could prevent unfavorable outcomes during labor made my wishes for labor do a total 180. I truly believe she can receive some of the credit for Lexi’s water birth!
Knowledge is power!
To do between 12 – 20 weeks:
Make big sibling kits.
This is just a small basket with treats in it “from” the baby. I thought it helped set the stage and welcome the baby into the family on the right foot!
Check out my post on how to make a big sibling kit and why you should!
Set up birth photography.
We have done this with our second and third and I so wish we had with our first. This is an investment, but I think it’s well worth it to remember that special day. I love to look back on them around their birthdays.
I loved seeing Joey’s support and love show through in the pictures. There’s something so special about watching your husband become a dad!
Set up doulas.
I had a doula for the first time with my third baby, and it was GAME CHANGER. I so wish I had known more about this my first two times. It would have changed my birth stories.
A lot of people are unfamiliar with doulas, or think they will replace their husband, but that isn’t the case at all. Doulas are there to give options and emotional and physical support of your choices and wishes for birth (whether that is medicated, C-section, all natural, laughing gas or anything in between), and compliment your partner.
Mine told me they like to think of your husband as an expert on you, and they’re the experts on birth. They help with positions to labor and give birth in, hip compressions, counterpressure, helping you understand your choices, encouraging you to advocate for yourself, other comfort measures, and everything in between.
Together, their combined knowledge with you and your husband is a powerhouse. Their presence made me so much more confident because I knew even if anything came up, they had tons of tips and tricks to help us figure it out.
They felt like a little secret weapon in my back pocket as I went into labor. Read more on proven truths about doulas here!
Set up maternity pictures.
You can be so creative here! It’s so fun to look back and watch your family grow.
Plan appointments for dog grooming, vet, check ups, cars, home repairs, hair cuts, kids, etc. ahead of time.
I told my husband if it can be groomed, done, stocked, cleaned, or fixed, I wanted to do it before she was born, and I was SO GLAD we did this!
Start stocking up on diapers.
Aldi is the name of the game for diapers in our house.
You’ll probably use the most newborns and size 1’s because they pee like 78 times a day with no cares given. Lexi is 3 months now and literally goes through a 44 pack every 3 days. I wouldn’t go past stockpiling size 3 though, since you don’t really know what size they’ll be in when they potty train.
I’ve known kids that were in size 3 when they trained. Sophia went up to 5, but Ella went up to 6, and by that time they’re going way less, so you won’t need so many as you did in the beginning.
I like Aldi diapers for when they’re bigger, but we trust Pampers Swaddlers for the first few months. It’s hard enough to go from being naked to clothed, the least I can do is not put them in cardboard. We also used Amazon’s diaper subscription for the longest time!
Make labor playlists.
I was told to have something upbeat, something slower, and something soothing without words (nature sounds, water, birds in a meadow, beach waves, whatever floats your boat). Since labor is so unpredictable, you won’t really know what you want until you’re doing it. My worship playlist was my favorite while in labor.
Schedule prenatal massage (after 30 weeks, but you’ll appreciate it more the more pregnant you are) and massage for 6 weeks postpartum (or closer to 10-12 if you had a C-section).
Trust me. Just do it.
Start going to the chiropractor.
Regular adjustments from a reputable chiropractor helped me so much through two pregnancies! This is just added to the list of things I wish I’d known with my first. It made me so much more comfortable, especially when your center of gravity starts resembling that of a Jersey cow and your walk looks like you’re strongly in the lead of a penguin race.
To Do Between 20 – 30 weeks:
Find out what you need to do for the birth center.
I feel like I’ve talked about things I wish I’d known with my first two about 67 times so far. This one is no exception. This depends on your wishes, but if I had known several years ago what I know now, I would have given birth all three times the way I did with Lexi in a heartbeat.
With Sophia, I didn’t even consider NOT getting an epidural. I thought that’s just what people in labor did. With Ella, I knew enough to know I wanted a natural labor, but nothing about how to get there. With Lexi, it was an all natural water birth, and the experience was so much easier, more joyful, natural, empowering (cheesy as it sounds) and more peaceful than the first two put together.
I encourage you to look into birth centers near you! To me, it was a nice in-between hospital and home birth. It was more homey, but we were right down the hall from intervention if an emergency arose. While there were some hoops to jump through, this was one of the absolute best things I did. This labor and birth was an all natural water birth and it was by far my easiest birth of the three, but that’s a post for another day.
Verify your pediatrician and have him/her sign forms stating she will see the baby, if applicable.
This was a requirement of the birth center I delivered Lexi in, but not for my hospital births.
Make midwife/nurse/doula/birth photographer gifts.
They’re taking care of you and your baby! Remembering them will make their day. A little kindness goes a long way!
Plan where the baby will sleep.
They don’t take up a lot of room when they’re little. Even a pack’n’play will do the job for now.
When I was pregnant with Sophia, Joey made me a little co-sleeper, which was like a three-sided crib that butted up to my side of the bed. All of ours have slept there until they’re about 6-8 months, and it’s worked well for us.
This model is slightly different, but ours was very similar to this one by Graco.
I loved it for the removable piece that rose the bottom to the middle and for the extra storage for diapers, wipes, burp cloths and bibs!
Get a car seat.
And learn about car seat safety! I wish doctors would talk about this as adamantly as they do about safe sleep.
If this isn’t your first, brush up and make sure your knowledge is current.
Using an older seat can work, you just need to make sure it hasn’t expired or has been recalled.
I don’t encourage purchasing used/older seats for two reasons:
1) They could be expired or close to it.
2) They could have been in an accident you’re not aware of, which would affect how they would operate in the event of another crash.
Here’s a great article to get you started:
We’ve trust Graco seats and they have served us well! Lexi rides in this car seat.
Stock up household stuff.
Hellllllo Sam’s club!
Think paper products, laundry supplies, deodorant, paper towels, baby wash, baby wipes, oatmeal (lactation friendly and an easy breakfast!) and coffee. All the coffee. In Sam’s club. Or something with caffeine. Just trust me on the last one.
Fix anything possible on the cars and house.
Change the oil, change the tires if the tread is low, do those home projects you’ve been putting off. Oil the squeaky doors, put together those end tables you’ve been meaning to, power wash the patio furniture, pull the weeds. If you can fix it, fix it now.
Use a birth ball.
It helps open up your hips to prepare for birth and it just plain feels good! I would even sit on mine and watch tv when I couldn’t get comfortable.
I loved to even lean over the bed on mine. You can bounce, do figure eights, rock back and forth, put your knees on the floor and lean over it, the possibilities are endless! I even sat on mine and folded laundry or went and took a break when my hips were hurting.
This is the one I loved. It was so durable and versatile!
Pick a name.
I loved doing this!
Nameberry.com was my go to when browsing name ideas or looking up meanings.
Get out/buy and wash baby clothes, burp cloths, bibs, blankets, etc.
I loved just plain white onesies for layering and because they can go with anything! Muslin blankets are a little pricey but are my favorite by far; especially for summer babies! They’re great for the car, as blankets for tummy time, or even as a nursing cover. Fun fact: they’re also awesome, even for older kids, who have a fever when you don’t want to lock in heat with large fuzzy blankets.
These are some of the best burp cloths ever! I didn’t have them for myself, but have used them from friends and loved them. They’re large, light-weight, and super duper soft!
Plan freezer dinners.
Make a meal plan and grocery list for execution, or let me do the hard work for you!
I made up my by making up a list of meals, then doing a coordinating grocery list, seeing what I already had, then creating a snazzy little emoji legend. The legend included throw together and freeze, some cooking and freeze, fully cooked and frozen, and has fresh produce, so I could see at a glance what I was looking at.
Then when I put them together over several weeks, I made sure to make everything with fresh produce as I had it, make meals with the same meats together, etc.
Grab yours here!
Make a postpartum recovery kit.
You can see exactly what I put in mine here!
Make a breastfeeding kit if you’re planning to breastfeed.
This is similar to the postpartum kit, but for breastfeeding.
Here’s what I had in mine:
- Reusable breast pads. I got mine on breastpads.com. They were cute, affordable, reusable, and so well made!
- Snacks to recharge me. Mine had granola bars or oatmeal squares and trail mix. After I made them, I added a few lactation cookies.
- A nursing cover. I used to use the velcro kind, but with Lexi, I actually doubled her stretchy car seat cover as a nursing cover!
- Burp cloths.
- Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter. I loved that this one was organic! You could also use breastmilk or coconut oil for nipple pain and healing!
My thoughts were they might help, they might not; but they can’t hurt.
Start saying birth affirmations and prayers for birth.
I found a bunch on Pinterest I liked and printed them out, then started saying them every day to get my mentality in a good place. These were some of my favorites that I said every single day.
Put together labor stuff.
I had all of these in a corner in my bathroom closet so I knew everything I would need was together:
- Birth affirmations and scriptures that were comforting.
- Essential oils that I knew were safe for labor. – Please do research before you use essential oils. All oils are not safe and can have detrimental effects to you, your baby, or your birth team.
- LED candles.
- A Himalayan salt lamp.
- Christmas lights (for soft lighting).
- My exercise ball.
- The outfit I wanted to labor in.
- The outfit I wanted to change into immediately after.
Start drinking labor prep tea.
I liked the Labor Prep Tea by Pink Stork, and, interestingly, had my shortest, easiest birth! This wasn’t the only thing I did to prepare, but I don’t think it hurt by any stretch.
To do at 30+ weeks:
Do doulas class (twice, if you can!).
If I had had a doula for my third two births, it would have drastically changed how they played out (read more on that here). If I could go back, I would change this in a heartbeat. They did a WONDERFUL class on comfort measures that we actually ended up taking twice; once earlier in my pregnancy, and once when I was a few weeks away from delivering. It was cool to hear two different people teach it from two different perspectives with different tidbits to share.
I wish it didn’t take me three pregnancies to do this!
They’re like training to run a marathon for your pelvic floor.
Stronger pelvic floor = more effective pushes. You do them by holding the muscles you would use to hold back urine, holding for several seconds, then relaxing.
Make freezer dinners (that compliment the due date month).
This was easily one of the best things I did to prepare for those first few months!
Ella was born in August, so I had a lot of stuff prepped to grill and crockpot meals. Lexi was born in March, so we did more soups and casseroles.
I share the exact recipes I did, grocery lists by category, my legend, and more in Project Freezer dinners right here:
Buy diaper bag essentials.
Things like gas drops, gripe water, travel wipes, and a travel-sized diaper cream.
Pack diaper bag.
Be sure to include those diaper bag essentials and a change of clothes for yourself and big siblings!
I think I’ve had about 3 diaper bags, and this bag was by FAR my favorite! The convenience of putting it on your back alone was a game changer, but I loved how deep it was and all the pockets to try to stay organized.
Get that massage.
You’ve earned it and it’ll feel so so good! Growing a person is exhausting. You’re kind of a big deal. 🙂
To do at 36+ weeks:
Start evening primrose oil.
It helps soften your cervix!
Keep gas in the car.
Install the car seat base.
They frown on you holding them in the car now, so I hear.
This article over at The Bump makes it so easy!
You can also have it double checked at your local fire station if it makes you feel safer.
Final Sam’s club trip.
Double check and top off household essentials!
Deep clean the house.
Definitely recruit help on this one, if possible.
Get out co-sleeper.
I loved being close to my babies and this helped everybody get more sleep!
To do at 38+ weeks:
Please verify this with your doctor as it will depend on your unique case and will not be encouraged if you are not low risk or have a planned C-section.
My midwife recommended I start this and I was so glad I did! It encourages contractions that can help start labor when your body is ready, and it helped prime me for breastfeeding.
Most of the time you can get a new breast pump through insurance. I have twice now. If that’s not an option for you, Amazon also has my favorite breast pump.
Pack hospital bag.
I had a bag of stuff I didn’t use as often that I packed earlier, then a small list to stuff to grab right before we went (phone charger, shoes, favorite clothes, my pillow, stuff like that).
Get a manicure and pedicure.
You deserve a little you time, and let’s face it, your toes may be in the air. It can’t hurt if they’re cute. I always feel like I have my life together when I have a good mani/pedi goin’ on.
And last but not least, spend a little extra time with your husband and little ones if it isn’t your first, and REST as much as you can! I know everything hurts and nothing is comfortable, but try.
I know you feel like the Good Year blimp and you can’t even turn over in bed in under 15 minutes, but put your feet up. Get a pedicure. Get a prenatal massage. Give yourself some grace for the things you haven’t gotten to.
Growing a person is exhausting. Treat yourself. The big day will be here before you know it! You’ve earned it!
Don’t forget to pin this so you always have access to it when you need it!
Congratulations and much love!
Maternity photos in this post done by the amazing Lauren Day Photography.