As your due date approaches, no matter how much you’ve prepared, it always seems like there is more to do. If you feel like you’re forgetting some necessary steps, do not worry. From washing baby clothes to finding a pediatrician, and more, we’re here to help with a handy checklist of the essentials to complete.
Now is a great time to tackle any last to-dos because once that little one is in your arms, you’ll be taking on a ton of new responsibilities caring for them. So, before it gets to those days when even taking a shower feels like a victory, let’s get started. We’ve put together a list of the top 20 “to-dos” to complete before you head to the hospital. Checking these off will make your life much easier when you get home with that little cutie.
Photo Credit: Yan Krukov, Pexels
1. Get Ready for those Just-Gave-Birth Photos
Creating life is no easy task, so why not kick off your to-do list with some self-care? About a week before you’re due, give yourself the gift of a salon day complete with a blow-out and mani-pedi. A little styling beforehand will boost your confidence, so you go into the hospital looking and feeling great. Plus, you’ll feel fresh and look your best once everyone starts snapping pictures of you and the new arrival.
2. Enjoy the Peace & Quiet
You’d be surprised how much extra noise a newborn can make, from wailing when hungry to cooing as they grow; your household will likely never be the same. So, take a moment before they are here to listen to how quiet it is now. Enjoy the silence because once your little one is here, nap time and bedtime will become the quietest parts of your day.
3. Hire Cleaners or Ask Your Partner to Tidy Up
Babies bring lots of diapers, constant laundry, and a collection of bottles. Before you know it, you’ll be knee-deep in baby gear, so relish the chance for a spotless space now. Hire cleaners or ask your partner to complete this “honey-do” for you. It’ll make coming home so much nicer to see everything clean and organized and will be one less thing you have to worry about later.
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4. Learn Some Breastfeeding Basics
If you’ve decided to nurse, prepare for some special bonding time with your newborn. While every mom’s experience is different, many say there is a learning curve to successful breastfeeding. It also requires support from your partner and those around you, like your employer. Take this time before your baby is here for you and your partner to read breastfeeding resources or consult with a lactation expert. Check out our breastfeeding basics blog for helpful tips too.
5. Fully Stock Your Household Essentials
Bringing your baby home can feel like a whirlwind, especially those first few weeks. We doubt bulk shopping for household supplies will be high on your list of priorities at that moment, but when you’re short on toilet paper, you’ll soon realize how essential it is. To prevent this scenario, take inventory of what you have before you head to the hospital. Go shopping or place an online order for toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, dishwasher detergent, personal care items like shampoo and soap, cleaning supplies, and other commonly used items. You’ll be grateful for this prep once your newborn is home.
6. Set up the Bassinet & Nursery Room if There’s Time
Channel your nesting urges into productive prep time for your newborn’s nursery room. Enlist your partner to help assemble furniture like the bassinet and changing table, or get a head start on baby-proofing your home. Fold or hang up your little’s one new wardrobe of onesies. Make diapers, onesies, wipes, and lotions accessible and ready for use; you’ll be shocked at how quickly you go through them. Read our nursery room blog for a timeline to help you plan everything out in advance.
Photo Credit: Yan Krukov, Pexels
7. Prepare for Your Maternity Leave
Mothers need time to recover from giving birth and bond with their newborns. Unfortunately, there is no national paid maternity leave in the United States, but hopefully, your employer or State offers some paid leave. Speak with Human Resources or consult your employee handbook to see what benefits you are entitled to. Then calculate your personal days, sick leave, and vacation time to see how you will cover your maternity leave.
If paid leave is not an option or you need extended time, read the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to see if you are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. If there’s a dad in the picture, you’ll also want to look into paternity leave policies too. Down the line, you might even want to consider working from home or returning only part-time. Speak to other moms in your office and see what solutions they came up with, then create a plan that works for you.
8. Finalize Your Birth Plan & Review it with Your Doctor
You can never predict how your delivery will unfold once you go into labor. But thinking about what you are and aren’t comfortable with ahead of time empowers your doctor to make decisions tailored to your preferences.
Start these conversations early at your OB-GYN appointments and write out a birth plan that includes your preferred pain management options and medical interventions to handle those unexpected scenarios. You might even want to include options that enhance your overall experience, like playing meditation sounds or dimming the lighting. Midwives or your partner can help with those requests.
9. Do Some Extra Meal Planning
Who has time to cook when working on postpartum recovery? Don’t put this extra burden on yourself. Instead, focus on meal planning weeks ahead of your due date and stock up on easy-to-reheat frozen meals. Try doubling some recipes you plan to cook and freeze the leftovers. Options like lasagna, chicken casserole, or a simple stir-fry are good options. This way, you’re not ordering take-out every night, so you can eat healthier and save more.
Photo Credit: Amina Filkins, Pexels
10. Research & Select a Pediatrician
Establishing a relationship with a trustworthy pediatrician before your child is even born helps take away the stress of rushing to find someone suitable later on. Check out local Mom groups or ask parent friends for recommendations. You can also check the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to see if they are members. Prepare a list of important questions to ask and consult with the doctors on your shortlist.
11. Pack Your Hospital Bag
Don’t wait until the last minute to pack a hospital bag. Many babies arrive before their due date, so it’s better to prepare early. Pack essentials like a cellphone charger, snacks, toothbrush, water bottle, dry shampoo, and other toiletries. Include Chapstick, hair ties, robe, socks, nursing bra, extra thick pads, and an extra pillow with a colorful pillowcase (so you always know which is yours).
If you prefer to let someone else pack, our Belly Bundle subscription is filled with Mama must-haves and an extensive hospital packing list for those extras to keep you comfortable come delivery day.
12. Get Fresh Linens & Baby Clothes Ready
Prepping your baby’s outfits is a fun to-do most moms enjoy. Look through all the cute swaddles and onesies and pick out a week’s worth of clothes. Then run a load of laundry with these, blankets, bibs, and crib sheets using a gentle, dye-free laundry detergent. This way, everything that touches your baby’s soft skin will be fresh and clean.
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13. Babyproof Your Finances
Having a baby comes with a lot of new financial decisions. Before you give birth, call your health insurance company and hospital to estimate out-of-pocket delivery costs and find out the deadline for adding your baby to your insurance policy. Beyond creating a post-baby budget, you’ll also want to get quotes for a life insurance policy and preregister with the hospital, so you aren’t bogged down with paperwork at an inconvenient time. For more tips to get your finances baby-ready, check out this blog.
14. Take a Birthing Class
Labor is called just that because delivering a baby is a lot of hard work. Developing a full arsenal of breathing, pushing, or relaxation techniques can help your baby’s birth go a little bit smoother. If you haven’t already taken a birthing class, schedule one in advance. Bring your partner along, so you both can get your questions answered and learn some helpful tips.
15. Install the Car Seat in Preparation for Their Ride Home
Before due date nerves kick in, take some time to read over the instructions that came with your car seat. Take turns with your partner practicing installing it so you both know how to strap in your little one securely. Then as it gets closer to delivery day, keep it installed in your car. This way, you are all set to safely drive your newest addition home.
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16. Choose a Baby Announcement Card
Some hospitals offer newborn photographers for an added cost. If you want to hire your own, you’ll likely need to book a month or so in advance. If you plan to mail out a baby announcement, you can get started on this before you even have the photos back.
Many services allow you to pick a design and write out the text. You can add the delivery details and baby photo once your little one is born and get those cards out quickly.
17. Ask for Help from Your Family
Your family cannot wait to meet its newest addition. As excitement builds, be sure to lean on those you are closest to. Line up some help in advance by asking who can assist with watering your plants or watching your other children or pets (if you have them). Write out a list with care instructions and who you can call as backups. Then ask your partner to keep them informed when you are on the way to the hospital so your sitter plans can be put into action.
18. Make Time for a Date Night with Your Partner
A babymoon is a great idea for a last getaway before you give birth, but if you can’t fit in a vacation, there are still other ways to make time for you and your partner before your baby arrives. Take a weekend to relax at the beach or plan a staycation at a swanky local hotel.
Even just taking time to pamper yourselves at home can sometimes feel like a getaway. Enjoy the closeness with your partner and fit in some mood-boosting, stress-relieving sex sessions while you still can. Postpartum care usually requires some period of abstaining, so now is the time to make time for each other.
Photo Credit: Amina Filkins, Pexels
19. Prep for House Guests
If you’re planning to welcome visitors or have family members coming over to help out and meet your newborn, you’ll probably want your house in decent shape. Rather than worrying about its condition later, plan ahead by laying out some fresh linens and towels now. Split chores with your partner, so all the shopping and cleaning needed to prepare for house guests is completed before you go into labor.
20. Get Your Medical Care Up-to-Date
The last few weeks before your due date is the best time to make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with over-the-counter remedies and first aid treatments. Pick up any prescriptions you’ll need on hand as soon as you can, and stay on top of your routine healthcare appointments like the dentist or eye doctor. This way, you are in tip-top shape to welcome and take care of your new baby.