It’s the final stretch! Are you ready to give birth?
If you missed my ideas for tasks in the first and second trimesters, find them here:
I’ll be going into my third trimester with our newest addition to the family in just a few more weeks, and I wanted to share my list of items for the weeks leading up to giving birth. Many women (including me) are tired during the third trimester and it’s important to take it easy. If you have favors you can call in to get some of these items done by other people than yourself, now is the time to use those!
Week 27: Decorate & Finish the Nursery
Although the big items have already been set up, if you’re anything like me, you probably have a few more things you want to get situated before the little one arrives. In our case, since the two little guys will be sharing a room, I just haven’t wanted to disturb our little guy’s setup just yet. That said, even if you are planning on using a bassinet next to your bed for a while, I think it is much easier to set it all up PRIOR to giving birth. Our son only slept in the bassinet for maybe 3 total hours before he transitioned to the crib in his own room (his choice)! I don’t know what we would have done if his room wasn’t all ready to go.
Some of the items I have been waiting to set up in the new shared nursery:
- Wash and organize the bedding and clothing. You never know what kind of dust or allergens they could have picked up during shipping! It also takes more time than you would think to remove tags from stacks of clothing if you received quite a bit for your baby shower. It’s a good time to figure out where you’d like everything to go. Discuss this with your partner if applicable – new moms don’t need to be trying to explaining their organizational strategies immediately post birth. It’s much easier if your partner already knows where things go.
- Diaper station and pail. Figure out where regular diaper changes will occur, and situate the diapers, wipes, creams, and disposal system around that area. Since we used mainly cloth diapers, our “disposal system” was a laundry hamper, but we would loop a reused plastic grocery bag around the doorknob for paper diapers and wipes. We are upgrading to a proper diaper pail that sits next to the laundry hamper.
- Curtains. If you haven’t hung curtains yet, those are a great thing to have in place before giving birth. I can’t recommend blackout curtains enough – my son has been such a great sleeper, but only in his OWN room (which is coincidentally the room with blackout curtains).
- Lighting. I think a lot of people overlook this one, and only realize after giving birth that it needed more thought. Generally you want to have some kind of nightlight, a diaper changing light, a closet light, and a feeding station light. Some of these can be combined, depending on the layout of the nursery. Our nursery closet didn’t come with a light, so I added in a battery-powered one. To add additional outlets next to the feeding station, I used this light/outlet splitter so the air purifier, phone charger, and nightlight charger could all be plugged in at the same time. I used a Fravita light for changing and the feeding stations. They are USB rechargable and all you need to do to turn them on or off is flip them over. I just kept it near the door so I could pick it up and take it to wherever it was needed. They fade in and dim out, so you won’t be suddenly blinded by turning it on.
- Artwork. I am a perpetual procrastinator when it comes to making holes in the wall. My aim is terrible, and I usually make a lot of additional holes. But I promise you don’t want to be making holes AFTER giving birth when you have a little one home with you!
- Books. Our baby books are in every part of the house right now. It’s great to organize these before giving birth so they are handy for bedtime stories when you bring the little one home. We used these bookshelves to make a story corner.
Week 28: Set up Cord Blood Banking (MUST be done before giving birth)
Something that was important to me was to set up cord blood banking. Cord blood is the blood in the umbilical cord that is collected after you give birth and the cord is cut. Since this blood is full of stem cells, it can be used to treat cancer, blood diseases, and immune system disorders. If you collect this blood after giving birth and have it stored, you will have access to it if needed. It is not cheap, but to me it was very much worth the peace of mind in case it was ever needed. If the cost is intimidating, you can always put it on your registry for multiple family members to chip in towards.
We used ViaCord, and they were great. They stayed in contact with us throughout the process, remained in touch through a cancelled debit card and new address at the same time, and sent a courier to our hospital to pick it up. Most places won’t let you decide this super last minute since there IS some coordination around the birth, so think about setting it up a few weeks in advance at least. It is also a good idea to discuss this with your doctor. I wanted to make sure we could do delayed cord clamping AND collect cord blood, and both of those things are hospital policy where I gave birth. It’s good to communicate all this stuff in advance in case those things aren’t standard policy.
Week 29: Install the Car Seat
It’s a little weird driving around with a car seat when you don’t have any kids. However… the alternative is trying to get it installed while leaving the hospital. No thank you. Since you could technically be giving birth any time now, it’s good to have it there just in case. Most hospitals will check to make sure you have one before you leave. I hear that there are places where you can have them installed for you, if you don’t think you’re up for it. I probably would have done something like that if Josh hadn’t done it for me because I’m terrible at following directions.
Week 30: Pack Your Hospital Bag for giving birth
This is another one that is great to have ready, because you never know when it will be time to go. It is absolutely shocking how much stuff you need with you. I packed everything in my Neverfull the first time, because those things are literally never full. I do use a felt insert to keep everything organized and prevent it from folding weirdly if the contents are lopsided. This time around, I plan to pack in the Neverfull again. I definitely learned some things about what to pack and what is not required. I will share what I packed in my next post!
Week 31: Consider which family traditions you would like to pass along
This is a great discussion to have with your partner or family before giving birth. To me, it was important to preserve holiday traditions, because I think it helps mark and enjoy the passing of time. Although my oldest is only one, we have done holiday crafts and baking together, and he has helped (slightly) with decorations. Ideally, you and your loved ones are already on the same page for these things, but these discussions can become more challenging after giving birth. There is something about it all being theoretical that keeps everyone calmer.
Topics you may want to discuss:
- Holiday or seasonal traditions
- Where will you be spending holidays?
- Special birthday celebrations
- Will you be part of a religious organization?
- Morning or evening rituals
- Favorite vacation spots or travel goals
- Thoughts on gift giving
- Favorite family games and activities
- Skills and values you’d like them to learn
Week 32: Take a Breastfeeding Class & Learn About Local Resources
It seems kind of weird to do something like this in advance and online (or at least it did to me). HOWEVER – after giving birth there was so much going on, both mentally and actually, that I was glad to have had at least a run-through of how it should all work ahead of time. I took three different online breastfeeding classes because the first time around I was very adamant that I be as prepared as possible, but they all covered the same material and I think one would have been plenty.
I would also recommend looking into your local resources. After our son was born I still had some trouble getting breastfeeding going. Yes, even with all of the theoretical knowledge in the entire internet. I met with a lactation consultant in person at our hospital, and it solved everything.
Week 33: Make sure you understand hospital check-in procedures
Every hospital has their own procedures, so I am not even going to try to make a generalization. Our hospital has you check in at the ER if you go into labor after hours. We were so amped up that we almost couldn’t find the parking garage when we went to the hospital to give birth. I wouldn’t recommend trying to figure that out in the moment. We had a sheet of paper with a phone number to call (before heading to the hospital) so they could get ready for us, and we stuck it to the refrigerator until we needed it.
Week 34: Make a Plan for when it’s time to give birth: Older kids, Pets, Parents, Guests
It’s important to make a plan for what is going to happen when you go to the hospital to give birth. With the current pandemic situation, hospital policies are all over the place. Some of them won’t allow you to bring older children, others will but nobody can leave the room for 3 days, and some have limitations on how many visitors you can have. Since we didn’t have anyone local to help out, I called my parents when we left, and they started driving the 8-9 hours right away so they could take care of our dog while we were gone and be there when we got home.
You may also want to figure out how you want to handle guests. Since newborns have fragile immune systems, it’s important not to expose them to anything in their first few months. Our doctor recommended that anyone our son would come into contact with be masked and have received a flu shot (vaccinations for Covid-19 were not available yet). Four family members stayed in Kansas City with us for a month after our son was born, so they all got flu shots, stayed home as much as possible, and stayed masked around our son for the first two weeks. I plan to have similar rules this time around – even if nobody has Covid, you don’t want to expose a newborn to a cold or cough or anything else either!
I also wanted to squeeze in one last shower and fully wash my hair before going into the hospital, so that was our plan as well. Our strategy was something like this:
- Waters broke (I didn’t have contractions on my own…ever) around 6pm.
- I started eating my dinner as fast as I could, knowing that you are not supposed to eat while in labor at the hospital.
- Josh called the number on the refrigerator (see Week 33) while I ran up the stairs and started my shower before he could stop me. They informed him that he really needed to get me into the hospital soon, since without contractions they would need to add some Pitocin to the mix.
- I put my hair in pigtail braids, put on some sweats, and grabbed my hospital bag on the way out the door.
- While Josh drove us to the hospital, I let my parents know we were going. They had pre-packed, and started driving almost immediately. Yes, I know most dogs are completely fine overnight by themselves, but she is our little (big) princess.
- My parents, sister, and brother in law rented an AirBnb for the month so they could be in the neighborhood to visit and help out. This was too long of a period of time and they were incredibly bored. I’d recommend doing this after a few weeks (once you get into a rhythm) and not for nearly as long.
This time around we have a few changes:
- I hope to reduce the amount of time before leaving the house. We live further from the hospital now, and with a second child this soon after… it might not take as long.
- My parents will be coming before our due date since we can’t leave a one year old alone for the 8-9 hours it takes them to drive here. We have nicer guest accommodations now.
- My parents will leave for their Alaskan adventure after we get home. They’ll be back for a proper visit once things have calmed down around here.
Week 35: Prep Feeding Station
Babies need to be fed in the middle of the night. I thought I had my head around this idea before my son was born, but not really. I pictured maybe ONCE in the middle of the night. Maybe once per night. For whatever reason, I did not envision it happening every 2 hours, day and night, for the first few months. So definitely get your feeding station prepped in advance of giving birth because it’s crazy for a little bit. This is also most likely a feeding station for YOU. I thought I’d been hungry and thirsty when I was pregnant but that was nothing compared to breastfeeding. It did get a LOT easier after the first month, and continued getting easier after that. I think going into that first month prepared is the best way to make it easier for yourself.
The main items I’d consider to be part of a feeding station are a soft rocking chair or glider, and a table next to it. Ideally those larger items are already set up and ready to go, but now it’s time to populate that area.
Some items that are handy within arms reach of a feeding station:
- Boppy or nursing pillow
- Burp cloth or washcloth (we used a prefold cloth diaper) and wipes. We like Water Wipes the most of any wipes we have tried.
- Water bottles & Granola bars (it may be your only chance for food and beverages… the lemon Luna bars are my favorite, and motivated me to get out of bed)
- Earbuds. I was so tired that first month, that I think the only reason I was able to stay awake and not drop him was that I’d listen to audiobooks with one bluetooth earbud in. I liked that I could still look at him and didn’t need to find a way to hold my phone but I still had something keeping me moving. If you can swing the PowerBeats Pro, they are my favorite because they clip onto your ear, they have a microphone, and you really only need one at a time.
- Light. As mentioned above, I really liked the Fravita light. It was just super simple and my sleepy brain could handle it and move it around to wherever it needed to me.
- Outlet to charge your phone, earbuds, Fravita light, etc.
Since Josh was back at work right away, he would get the first nighttime feeding with a bottle I’d pumped from the refrigerator. I’d get the other feedings.
The process basically was:
- Stumble out of bed when I hear him cry, grab the Fravita light on the way in, and flip it over (turning it on) and set it on the feeding station table.
- Put in an earbud and hit play on my phone for whatever audiobook I was working on. Usually also needed to plug in my phone.
- Change the little guy’s diaper (if needed), wrap him back up in his sleep sack, and start breastfeeding.
- Chug two whole bottles of water while he’s feeding and inhale a granola bar or two.
- Make silent kisses in his direction until hes done and I put him back in bed. SO TIRED but SO CUTE.
- Panic about the 22 seconds it takes me to fall back asleep. I NEED those 22 seconds.
It looks like a lot but it actually doesn’t take all that long if everything is in place and ready to go. I can not imagine trying to set that all up after giving birth though.
Week 36: Start Taking Colace & Prep Postpartum Care Items
This may be something to discuss with your doctor, but mine had me start on a stool softener after giving birth. Giving birth dries you out, depletes your body’s nutrients, wears you out, etc. If you’re lucky like me, you may even have some stitches down there. It seems like a nice idea to soften the stools. BUT.
It was TOO LATE for me. I probably should have called my doctor, but I didn’t poop for 9 whole days after giving birth. Skip if this is TMI, but I wish I’d known this was a possibility. I HAD to go. But I couldn’t. I was taking stool softeners three times a day for nine days before I could go. And when I finally went… I was staggering to the toilet. My stomach was so unhappy. It was almost harder than actually giving birth.
So I learned my lesson. This time around, I’m planning to start the Colace 2 weeks before my due date. I’d rather have it ready to go or start off fully empty than risk this happening again.
It’s also helpful to prep postpartum care items. I read a lot about padsicles on the internet, prior to giving birth the first time. They are basically the XXL sanitary pads, that you open up, spread with aloe vera and spray with witch hazel, and the fold back up and stick in the freezer. I use reusable bamboo pads (normally, when I get a period – don’t need them while pregnant). For some reason I didn’t see anyone on the entire internet talking about using reusable pads for this purpose. I figured I’d try it and see how it went.
It worked GREAT. I have 2 6-packs (each pack fits into its own bag that they come with). I prepped all of them in advance, popped them into the freezer, and then just kept up one six-pack at a time. The cold was probably the most relieving compared to anything else for postpartum pain. I started off by hand washing them, but they actually washed out great in the laundry. The aloe and witch hazel may have even kept them cleaner. The only trick is to remember to stop by the freezer on your way to the bathroom, and stop by the laundry on your way out. I think these may have even worked better than disposable pads since the reusable ones have a snap to keep them closed. This helps both before (while they are in the freezer) and after use.
Other items that were handy during postpartum recovery:
- Tylenol & Ibuprofen. My doctor had me take both of these on a schedule until the swelling went down.
- Pain Reliever Spray (after you go, before you re-dress)
- Ice-Packs & Disposable pads. I didn’t like these as much because they are so much bulkier and it wasn’t as comfortable to sit down while using these, but it was nice to have a few that I took home from the hospital for when laundry got away from me.
- Heating pad (mainly for my back)
Aside from the heating pad, I kept these items and some bottles of water next to the toilet so I could replace my padsicle (or in an emergency use a disposable pad and an ice-pack but it didn’t work as well), take my pills (if it was time), and use the pain reliever spray all in one trip. And then go back to holding the little guy up to my boobs on the couch with a heating pad on my back.
Week 37: Prep & Freeze High-Fiber Casseroles, Pureed Soups, & Oatmeal Bars
See Week 36 for why I specified “High-Fiber.”
Immediately after giving birth:
After giving birth to our little guy, I still had TIME to cook since I was on maternity leave. But I didn’t have ANY desire to. And I usually really enjoy cooking. But moving around didn’t feel awesome and I never wanted to put him down. And I was constantly starving. Having dinner ready in a casserole dish that just needed to be popped into the oven was SUPER helpful. That way, when Josh got home, he could take the little guy while I squeezed in a nap while dinner cooked.
It is surprisingly hard to find casseroles that aren’t just cheese. Or cheese and chicken. Or cheese, pasta, and ground beef. ZERO CHEESE in my postpartum freezer dinners. I am still working on rounding up my favorites for this time around. Last time, I bought 8 identical Pyrex casserole dishes, which is perfect because they stack nicely in the freezer. I use these all the time for other things now, but I’ll be clearing them out so I can use them for postpartum dinners again.
Back at work:
Once I was back (full time, new baby, still recovering from birth, mid-pandemic, no childcare or nearby friends or relatives to help out), I had to figure out a way to get through my work days. I needed to eat sometimes. Little guy needed to be held basically 100% of the time (wasn’t napping yet). I needed him quiet for my meetings. This was the start of “camera ON” zoom meetings all the time. Here’s what my strategy was, and most likely will be again:
- Adjust computer camera angle to show only from the shoulders up.
- Buy THESE breastfeeding tops. I stayed bra-free under them for ease of access. I am debating if I should sew in nursing pads this time around.
- Prep oatmeal bars & soups (more below). Set those next to the computer 5 minutes before the meeting starts.
- 2 minutes before the meeting starts, grab the Boppy and start breastfeeding (out of frame).
- Manage to not mention during the entire meeting that there is a human in your lap or that your boobs are out. Yep, I was breastfeeding in one-hour increments. It did actually help a lot with my supply, and the little guy would often fall asleep on me, in which case I could just cover myself back up and let him snooze in my lap. As far as I know, people didn’t know I was doing this. Once I got used to it, I even did some really involved presentations this way.
It will be even more interesting this time around, doing all this with a one-year old!!
So I made oatmeal bars for breakfasts, and pureed soups for lunches. I can consume each of these one-handed. With your face is half out of frame, people might not know you’re eating an oatmeal bar. I baked mine in silicone muffin cups. This is the recipe I followed. I did try to health it up a little bit. With the soups, I blended them and put them in mason jars with sippy lids and silicone sleeves, so to anyone else’s knowledge, it was just a beverage. I didn’t follow recipes for soups, so much as use soup-making as a disposal system for all of the week’s leftover vegetables. There wasn’t a bad combination. This actually worked SO WELL that I started freezing them in the jars.
You have to be careful which ones you use, since jars with shoulders can break in the freezer. I used these. To prevent them falling out of the freezer and shattering, I stored the frozen soups in this quilted stemware storage system inside the freezer. It was perfect, because I could stack two high, four deep, and three wide. Then I’d just take 5-6 soups out of the freezer at the beginning of the week and thaw them in the refrigerator. Remove the lids and microwave with the sleeve and sippy lid, then replace the ring, and you’re good to sip.
I am 100% prepping 6-8 weeks worth of oatmeal bars, soups, and casseroles in advance this time around. We are also planning to try Hungry Root next month. I understand it is the least effort from box to eating time, and I appreciate the focus on healthy foods. If that works well, I’ll supplement the oatmeal bar/soup/casserole plan with actual meals here and there.
Week 38: Pick Cozy Outfits to Come Home In Post-Birth
If you have not picked out your outfits yet, now is a good time to do that! They should go in your hospital bag. (Probably at the bottom since it’s the last thing you need before leaving.)
Some considerations for your outfit:
- Giving birth can cause crazy bloating. I almost couldn’t wear my sweatpants that fit during pregnancy on the way home. My hips popped out so far, and my ankles were enormous (way bigger than during pregnancy). I’d err on the side of caution and pick out something really loose and comfortable. My swelling went down reasonably quickly, but not before we left the hospital.
- Lots of people bleed for a while after giving birth. Dark colored pants feel safer.
- I see a lot of people on the internet recommending leggings to wear home. What?! I had an industrial-sized pad in my underwear, AND an ice pack. Leggings feels like a bad idea.
- The shoes I wore to the hospital did not fit on the way home. And those shoes were slippers! My feet swelled up massively after giving birth. I actually broke both my big toenails cramming my feet into my normal sized shoes in the weeks afterward. This was insane to me because I puffed up a little bit during pregnancy. After giving birth, I was WAY puffier. I’ve always been a size 7, so I figured maybe they’d be tight, but not that they wouldn’t fit. If weather allows, just go with flip flops so you can use them in the shower too.
Come considerations for baby’s outfit:
- Bring two outfits. One might get pooped on.
- The two outfits should ideally be different sizes, in case baby is bigger or smaller than they were measuring. If the one that fits gets pooped on… you can probably still put them in the other one. It’s nice to have options.
Week 39: Reach Out to Support Network
Connect with friends and family before giving birth. It’s harder to find time to chat that first month or so!
If there is anyone in your circle who can help out after the baby arrives, now is the time to discuss it with them.
Week 40: Clean the House (much easier before giving birth)
It might be a little late in the game to do this yourself. Ideally the house is mostly already in order from following thr week by week tasks. If you can get someone to help you or even hire a cleaning service, it’s very worthwhile! Now is the time to call in any outstanding favors people may owe you. I can say from experience the first time around that nothing can possibly feel clean enough when you bring home a new baby! We don’t use a cleaning service regularly. I do plan to hire one for a one-time cleaning around Week 40. This is another non-traditional item that could go on a gift registry. Either someone could hire a service for you or they could come and help you clean everything.