Third Trimester To-Do List

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by: Erin Dower
Welcome to your third trimester! The final stretch typically brings everything from the joys of a baby shower to jitters about giving birth. Your to-do list might seem like it's a mile long, but these final steps are all you really need to prepare for your little one's arrival. This printable "Countdown to Baby" checklist will also help you stay on track.
pregnant woman eating healthy
Continue Your Healthy Habits
Keep up your healthy prenatal diet and exercise routine — with some tweaks to accommodate your growing baby bump. If you're feeling too full to eat regular healthy portions, try eating mini meals or snacks every few hours. Do your best to eat healthy "superfoods" and gain about 1 pound a week during most of your third trimester because, ideally, your baby will double in body weight in these final three months.

Your expanding belly and waning energy may also leave you craving couch time. However, light exercise can give you an energy boost and help you maintain a healthy body weight, which may help prevent preeclampsia (high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes. Working out can also help you build strength and endurance that will come in handy during childbirth. Walking, swimming, and gentle stretching are generally great options for third-trimester exercise. Talk with your doctor about a safe exercise program for you.

pregnant woman with backache
Manage Your New Symptoms
You might have enjoyed a relatively symptom-free second trimester, but some pesky side effects might return — and some new ones might arise — during your third trimester. Common symptoms include backaches and sciatica, constipation, indigestion, heartburn, fatigue, faintness, heart palpitations, varicose veins, and edema (swelling). Symptoms such as edema of the legs and feet and faintness could be related to circulation problems many pregnant women experience, so call your doctor right away. If you're having trouble sleeping, try sleeping on your side and using a body pillow that supports your belly. Also, drink more fluids during the day than around bedtime in an effort to cut back on nighttime bathroom breaks.
third trimester ultrasound appointment
Attend All Appointments and Make Your Birth Plan
In your final weeks of pregnancy, you'll have frequent doctor appointments. Your doctor will track fetal growth and monitor your cervix to get a sense of whether you're approaching labor. If your doctor puts you on bed rest, stick with the down time you're prescribed. Talk with your doctor about your birth plan and put it in writing. You'll need to be flexible on your plans when you're actually going through labor and delivery — you may change your mind about epidurals vs. natural pain relief, or your doctor may need to pursue other treatment options in the delivery room. It's natural to feel anxiety about going into labor and giving birth, so talk with your physician about any questions or concerns you have.
childbirth class for couples
Choose Your Childbirth Partner and Take Classes
Decide who you would like to have with you in the delivery room (check with your hospital about any restrictions). Sign up for a childbirth class at your hospital, which should cover everything from the check-in process when you're in labor to breathing and relaxation techniques. It's helpful to have your primary childbirth partner, whether it's your spouse or someone else, attend childbirth classes with you so that you both get some sense of what to expect.
couple bottle feeding baby
Think About Bottle Feeding vs. Breastfeeding
The decision whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed might have been hanging over your head for a while. It's one of the most taboo topics of new motherhood, so try to tune out other people's judgments and do what works for you and your baby. Read up on both breastfeeding and bottle feeding so that you're prepared for both. If you're planning to breastfeed, sign up for a breastfeeding class and stock up on nursing bras (or sports bras, if you prefer them), nursing pads (to catch leaks), easy-access shirts (for more convenient feedings), and a breast pump and storage containers. Also, have some bottles on hand in case breastfeeding doesn't go as planned — and so your partner can help with some feedings. Whatever happens, try to stay positive — babies can thrive on both formula and breast milk.
pregnant woman in nursery
Set Up the Nursery, and Organize Your Gear
You might be swimming in an over abundance of baby gear, or you might be wondering if you have all the baby care necessities. Newborns mainly need a few basic things, so try not to feel too overwhelmed by all the "stuff" or think your nursery should be perfectly settled. However, once your little bundle arrives, sleep and spare time will be in short supply, so it's a good idea to get as organized as you can ahead of time. Set up a bassinet or crib for your bundle of joy. Also, stock up on small diapers and wipes, and have some of your baby's outfits laundered and ready to be (adorably!) worn. (Hint: organize them by size so you can easily find what you need when you need it — you'll be surprised how fast that little one grows!)
baby in car seat
Install the Car Seat
Another important baby-gear step is to have your car seat installed and ready to carry your new addition home! Learn how to install a car seat, or find a certified car seat inspection station in your area to get some help with this important task. Also, check out the AAP's latest car seat safety guidelines.
pregnant woman reading book
Pamper Yourself
Treat yourself to some new (and much-needed) maternity clothes, take relaxing baths, and get a manicure/pedicure or prenatal massage. Go on a few more date nights with your partner before your baby arrives, and welcome back rubs and foot rubs! Read a good book and have lunch dates with friends.
pregnant woman at work
Finish Up Projects at Work
Do some final research on your maternity leave and work with your manager to tie up projects and transition ongoing tasks to your colleagues. Many moms-to-be put off the start of their maternity leave as close to their delivery date as possible so that they can save up more leave time for after their baby's arrival — it all depends on how you feel and your doctor's advice. Have your partner research and plan for paternity leave and remind his manager about the upcoming birth.
pregnant couple talking
Narrow Down Your Name List
Are you suffering from baby name indecision? It's very common and surprisingly stressful in the third trimester! Figure out your baby naming style and use these cool baby name tools to help you narrow down (or start!) your name list. It's a good idea to have just a few baby name combinations per gender when you got into labor, so that you're not completely overwhelmed when it's time to fill out the birth certificate.
pregnant woman packing clothes
Pack Your Bags and Make a "Game Day" Plan
Hospital bag packed? Check. Gas in the tank? Check. Spare house key made for a neighbor or sitter? Check. When you go into labor, it helps to have all your ducks in a row. Talk with your partner and any close family members or friends who will be "on call" when you go into labor. There's no telling exactly when you might need to go to the hospital, so it helps to have some of the details figured out in advance.

Now there's just one thing left to do: Get ready to meet your bundle of joy!