Third Trimester Checklist to Get You Totally Prepared Before You’re Due!

Last Updated: June 19, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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Looking for a detailed third trimester checklist to help you get prepared before you’re due? I’m so glad you’re here! I put together this checklist to help you know what you need to do in these final 12 weeks.

But I wanted this to be a lot more than just a list. Because I know that if I’ve got some resources and understand the WHY behind doing something, I’m a lot more likely to actually do it!

So here you’ll find a list of what you need to get done, extra information, and any necessary resources to help make it a little bit easier.

Let’s rock this third trimester!

Follow @mommy.labornurse on Instagram to join our community of over 640k for education, tips, and solidarity on all things pregnancy, birth, and postpartum!

Start doing kick counts

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Once you hit the third trimester, it’s really important to tune into your baby’s daily movements.

Research shows that kick counting is a free and SUPER effective way for mamas to track baby’s wellbeing in the womb, spot potential problems, and prevent stillbirth!

Here’s how to do it:

This is updated info from @countthekicksus that we put together in collaboration with PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy – an incredible organization dedicated to ending preventable stillbirth. 

  • Start a timer and record how long it takes for you to feel 10 movements⁣
  • Pick a time when baby is active to start counting, preferably at the same time every day⁣
  • After each counting session, compare that time with your past sessions (you can use a notebook or the FREE Count the Kicks app!)⁣
  • Contact your provider if you notice any significant changes in the amount of time it takes to get to 10⁣

Here’s what to keep in mind when doing your kick counts:⁣

  • There is no set number of movements you need to feel, your baby will have their own pattern of movements that you should get to know⁣
  • Movements can be kicks, flutters, swishes, rolls, jabs, or anything in between (except hiccups!)⁣
  • It is not true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy⁣
  • A reduction in baby’s movements can sometimes be an important warning sign that baby is unwell⁣
  • If you have noticed a change in your baby’s movements (less active/weaker or a sudden frantic increase) contact your healthcare provider immediately⁣
  • Do not try to prompt your baby to move with sugary or cold drinks ⁣

For more information on kick counting, I encourage you to utilize these resources:

Remember, we would so much rather you come in and have an NST done that checks out totally normal than have an emergency go unnoticed.

Related Reading: Non-Stress Tests During Pregnancy Explained

Complete baby’s nursery

All right, so for this one, mamas usually like to wait until after their baby shower because that is when you’ll get a lot of things from your registry. What I recommend is taking inventory of what you have and what you still need and getting on that.

Once you have everything, the third trimester is the time to put it all in place. Here are some of the things involved:

  • Wash all of baby’s clothes and linens and put them into their dresser or closet
  • Arrange the nursery furniture – keep functionality in mind with your décor (think through where you’ll need an outlet, if the chair has enough clearance to rock, etc.)
  • Stock the changing table with diapers, wipes, creams, etc.
  • Prepare your diaper caddy and breastfeeding caddy (portable baskets with everything you need to change or feed baby)
  • Put other baby health and hygiene items away in your bathroom or in a convenient place in their nursery
  • Don’t forget to set up a safe sleep space for baby in your room too! The AAP recommend room sharing for the first 6-12 months to reduce the risk of SIDS

If you’re still looking for some nursery inspiration, we’ve got a great article to help!

Related Reading: Small Space Nursery Tips and Tricks + Gender Neutral Nursery Ideas

Assemble baby gear and practice using it

Building off the nursery, I want you to make sure you assemble all the other baby gear too! Having things set up, in their spot, and ready to go is going to make your life SO much easier. It also gives you a chance to kinda figure things out before you have to use them.

I think you’ll also be surprised at just how annoying assembling those baby loungers and swings can really be, hah!

Here are some things to get set up and practice using:

  • Baby swing
  • Pack-n-play
  • Baby lounger
  • Activity mat
  • Nursery furniture
  • Baby carrier (Definitely practice and use YouTube for wrap-style and structured baby carriers – it’s so helpful to watch a video!)

Install the car seat and practice using it

I decided to give this one its own section on this third-trimester checklist because it’s really essential! You can’t leave the hospital without a car seat actually. You definitely want your car seat installed before you are full-term, but a little lead time is even better.

Again, I recommend utilizing YouTube to get your infant car seat installed correctly and to familiarize yourself with how to attach the seat to the base. Once YOU think you have it right, I cannot urge you enough to go get it checked by a Car Seat Safety Tech.

To find one in your area, you can call your town hall and they will be able to point you to when and where car seat safety checks happen. If you don’t have any luck with that, your hospital and good old Google can also help.

Related Reading: Let’s Talk about Infant Car Seat Safety with a CPST

Take a birth class

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It’s no secret that birth is on the horizon. And for so many of you I know that evokes a feeling of fear or anxiety. And mostly, that’s because birth is unknown! Well, one of the best ways to erase some of the unknown is with education. Knowledge is power you guys!

And that’s the whole goal behind Mommy Labor Nurse. All of the content I put out on Instagram, into blog posts, and in the Mommy Labor Nurse birth courses are meant to uncover the unknown of birth and give you a better idea of what to expect.

Too many mamas don’t even know what to ask or what they need to know to have a better birth. “You don’t know what you don’t know” as they say.

And too many mamas have traumatic or stressful birth experiences because they weren’t exposed to more information beforehand about what to expect and various outcomes.

  • I want you to feel excited about birth
  • I want you to go into your birth experience like a boss
  • I want you to know the answers to the questions and know what to expect if things take an unexpected turn
  • I want you to feel in control mama!

And if you have a specific type of birth in mind? Education might be EVEN more important. I’ve met a lot of mamas that said they wanted a natural birth but didn’t do anything to prepare. That’s where a birth course can come in.

Learn more about how our online birth classes can help!

  • Birth It Up: The Natural Series: If you’re hoping for an unmedicated birth, this class will help you erase the unknown and rock your natural birth!
  • Birth It Up: The Epidural Series: If you already KNOW you want that epidural, you still deserve and can benefit from birth education tailored to your needs. Let’s make it an informed epidural birth!
  • Birth It Up: The C-Section Series: Are you having a planned C-section? Girl, you also deserve the confidence that tailored birth education provides. A C-section is birth, so let’s do this!

Related Reading: 10 Things Not to Skip As You Prepare for Labor and Birth

Hospital Bag Checklist-1

Create your birth plan

If you’ve been around the Mommy Labor Nurse community, then you know that I am a big birth plan advocate. It’s not that I think you need a birth plan as a binding contract, but it’s actually the exercise of CREATING a birth plan that is so valuable.

When you use a great birth plan template, it will alert you to all the options that exist, and put things on your radar related to birth that you didn’t even know about. It will spark dialogue between you and your partner, and get you thinking about what you REALLY want from this experience.

It will also prepare you to ask questions to your provider and help you better understand standard policies and practices at your birth place. Overall, there is very little downside to taking the time to think through your birth via a birth plan!

My team and I created a comprehensive and totally FREE birth plan template just for you! And once you fill it out, be sure to tag me on IG so I can show you some love ?

free birth plan

Related Reading: How to Make a Birth Plan: An L&D Nurse’s Guide

Prepare for maternity leave and your eventual return to work

I know, I know. Putting this on your third trimester checklist might feel a little crazy. It may even seem like a lifetime away! But doing some prep now will make for a smoother maternity leave AND eventual return to work.

Here are some important things I want you to have on your radar:

Maternity leave plan

  • If you haven’t already, it’s time to sit down with your boss and share your pregnancy and leave plan. Before you schedule this meeting, have an idea of what you’re thinking in terms of your leave
  • Talk to HR to find out about pay during your maternity leave. Can you apply sick time and vacation days? Can you apply short term disability? Does your employer offer any paid parental leave?
  • What can YOUR family afford in terms of leave? Take a look at your budget and see what’s realistic
  • Be creative! If financially you can’t take a full 12 weeks off, consider doing 8 weeks and then going back part-time, or maybe negotiating a remote work schedule to ease back into it
  • What about your partner? You may want to stagger their leave with yours (if they get it!) to keep your babe at home longer rather than taking your leaves at the same time

Start looking into childcare

  • No, I’m not completely insane! In some areas around the country, it’s necessary to get on waiting lists for daycares this far in advance. Even if you’re hiring a nanny, finding one that you’re comfortable with for your newborn can take time
  • If you decide to go the daycare route, understand the pros and cons of daycare centers vs. home daycares. Be sure to tour facilities and ask lots of questions!
  • If you’re leaning towards a nanny, try to have someone lined up before you’re due. That way, they can spend some time WITH you and baby during your maternity leave. It’ll make you feel WAY more comfortable when the time comes to head back to work

Stay at home option?

  • Can you switch to part-time hours or flexible remote work that would let you stay home with baby longer (or indefinitely?)
  • Might you quit your job entirely?
  • Ever consider a work from home side hustle that might give you the financial freedom to stay at home? Blogging is actually a great option! My girl Suzie has a great course on How to Start a Mom Blog if you’re interested!

Prepare to breastfeed while pregnant

So many mamas go into birth well prepared and have the intention to exclusively breastfeed, but don’t take any steps to make that a reality! So for that reason, preparing to breastfeed is an important item on this third trimester checklist.

The challenges and learning curve associated with breastfeeding are just not talked about enough among pregnant mamas. And I want to make sure you know differently.

Here are my top tips you can do now to get your breastfeeding journey started on the right foot:

  • Learn some breastfeeding basics: Like how milk production works, what a proper latch looks like, when to expect your milk to come in (it’s not right away!), hunger cues, and signs that baby is getting enough. Milkology offers several classes, including “Master Your Milk Supply”, which talks about ways to up your milk-making game!
  • Find breastfeeding resources in your community: Chances are you’re going to need some help – that’s TOTALLY normal. Knowing where to turn because you researched it ahead of time is a pro move. Google free breastfeeding support groups in your area and ask at your next prenatal appointment. Many are led by lactation consultants and are a HUGE help! It’s also a great way to connect with other new mamas
  • Gather some breastfeeding essentials: Having things like a nursing pillow, nipple cream, nursing bras, and a really good water bottle can help make things a bit easier and more comfortable
  • Get your free breast pump through your insurance if you haven’t yet! US law states that every expecting mama is entitled to 100% coverage of a breast pump. Call your insurance company to see how to go about acquiring yours

Just like I always say that to have a confident and empowered birth you need to have some childbirth education; I feel the same way about breastfeeding! Just wanting to succeed at it CAN work, but why not go into it totally prepared and educated?

Related Reading: Breastfeeding Essentials You Need as a Nursing Mama

Related Reading: Pumping Essentials: 10 Things Every Pumping Mama Needs

Learn about the signs of labor and due dates

I always like to tell third trimester mamas to familiarize themselves with the signs and stages of labor. These are two topics we go into at length in both versions of our online birth class, but let me give you a brief overview here.

What’s most important to remember is that your due date is really just an estimate. Every baby and pregnancy is different and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know exactly when that sweet babe will make their appearance.

According to birth data put out the CDC in 2017:

  • 10% of babies were born before 37 weeks
  • 26% were born in weeks 37-38
  • 57% were born in weeks 39 to 40
  • 6% in week 41
  • Less than 1% at week 42+

Most interesting to me (and maybe it’s because I work in L&D?) in 1997 the percentage of births at 42+ weeks was 57%!!

That’s probably for a few reasons including dating ultrasounds weren’t as good, which meant less accurate due dates, and the rates of inductions and scheduled/elective C-sections are far higher these days.

Here are a few clues that labor might be imminent:

  • You feel extra exhausted
  • You experience diarrhea
  • You lose your mucus plug or see some “bloody show.” Your mucus plug, for lack of a better description, looks like a giant booger!
  • You start to feel cramps that get stronger and more rhythmic
  • Your water breaks

And remember, some women have no warning signs!

Related Reading: All About Water Breaking During Pregnancy

Learn how to time contractions and download a contraction counting app

Knowing the right way to count your contractions is really important for laboring at home and deciding when it’s time to head to the hospital. So this is definitely something I want you to learn about before you’re actually in labor!

When we talk about timing contractions we talk about two main things, duration and frequency. Here are some more details about those two terms:

  • Frequency: This measures how often you’re contracting. To measure the frequency of your contractions, track the length of time from the START of one contraction to the START of the next contraction
  • Duration: This measures how LONG a contraction lasts. To measure, start your timer when you feel the contraction start, and stop your timer when the contraction releases!

There are quite a few awesome and free apps to help you time contractions. I love to tell mamas to download one and get familiar with it before you’re in labor so that you’re ready to use it when things pick up.

Pack your hospital bag

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I usually tell mamas to begin packing their hospital bag in week 35 and to aim for it to be totally ready by 37 weeks. It’s totally possible you could go all the way until 41+ weeks. But once it’s done, IT’S DONE so it’s better to be safe than leave your partner to do the packing for you, hah!

I know I wouldn’t have wanted to rely on my husband to pack my bag at the last minute…but I’ve also seen mamas show up to L&D with literally nothing because they had to rush here—and everything worked out fine. We truly have all the essentials.

Without further ado, here are my hospital bag recs. Basically, these are the top items I know I was glad to have or that I’ve seen other mamas bring and thought—hey, that was a good idea! Like I already said, everything you absolutely need, the hospital will have, but these items will make you a little more comfortable on the big day:

Labor and Birth

  • Extra hair ties
  • Chapstick <– can’t recommend this one enough! All that labor breathing = DRY LIPS
  • Fluffy towel and robe
  • Massage oil
  • A birth ball and yoga mat (if you know you won’t be provided one)
  • Snacks for your partner
  • Honey sticks and coconut water for you—you might not have much of an appetite, but these are perfect light options that can really give you an energy boost during labor!

Postpartum Hospital Stay

  • Recovery undies
  • An empty tote bag to bring home all your freebies <– things like extra pads, witch hazel wipes, leftover diapers, nipple cream samples, and baby care supplies
  • A nursing pillow! Learning how to breastfeeding with crappy hospital pillows is the worst. Bring your boppy or other nursing pillow to learn from the start
  • Easy to nurse in, comfy clothes: Nursing camis or tanks with a light cotton robe are my top choice for the early days. LOVE the ones by Kindred Bravely—so comfy! Button down pajama shirts are another good choice
  • Wide waist-band pajama or lounge pants
  • A notebook to jot down questions, track feedings, put paperwork, etc.

So these are just my top recommendations. I obviously didn’t put the basics for any time you’re staying away from your house.

For a complete list, check out this article if you’re having a vaginal birth, and this one just for my C-section mamas! And for a full list of postpartum recovery items, head to this article!

Plan a date night before you’re due

Yes! I always like to put a few fun things on these trimester to do lists, because it can’t all be about DOING, am I right? Taking some time to intentionally connect with your partner in these final weeks is so important.

I actually put together a list of five creative date ideas for expecting couples inside of the article, 8 Fun Things to Do During Pregnancy! Go check ‘em out ?

Learn about ways to induce labor

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By the time you get to the end of the third trimester, I know a lot of you are just ready to be done. The thing is, going into labor naturally really is the best option. Induction has its time and place and is wonderful for women for whom induction is medically necessary.

But simply wanting pregnancy to be over? As hard as it may be, letting baby come when they’re ready really is best! Research shows that spontaneous labor is associated with fewer maternal complications.

BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t try to help things along a bit…

Let me share some of the top natural ways to induce labor. Have a little fun this week to see if you can get things going (with your provider’s go ahead of course!)

Admittedly, many of these suggestions aren’t backed up with much research, but HEY you never know!

  • Do some brisk walking
  • Eat pineapple
  • Bounce on your yoga ball
  • Have sex
  • Drink red raspberry leaf tea
  • Eat dates
  • Try nipple stimulation
  • See a chiropractor
  • Eat spicy food

Get ALL the details on these tips, along with an overview of the benefits of spontaneous labor in this article!

A few other third trimester checklist items

All right, I want to wrap up this article with a few more points! These ones didn’t need their own sections, but it doesn’t make them less important. Let’s take a look:

  • Stock your freezer: This is one of the best tips I got before my first was born. Having home cooked meals ready to be heated or dumped into a crock pot is a game changer!
  • Listen to birth stories: This is one of the BEST ways to get pumped and excited about your own birth. I’ve had a TON of awesome mamas share their birth stories on the podcast – go browse through and listen to some that speak to you
  • Choose a pediatrician: You don’t want to forget this one! In fact you have to choose one to leave the hospital after birth. We put together a guide to help you choose the right pediatrician for your newborn that can help!
  • Complete your hospital’s pre-registration pack: Pretty self-explanatory, but a definite must before you go into labor. It makes things way smoother when you arrive
  • Do a test drive to the hospital: Okay, so for me, I obviously knew exactly where to go. But if you’re someone that hasn’t really BEEN to the hospital much, you and your partner should drive there, find out exactly where to park, and what entrance to use when you show up in labor

Baby is almost here!

Well mama, I know pregnancy is a long journey, but you really are in the home stretch! This article should give you some great resources to get everything done before baby arrives.

Before I go, I want to share a few more birth prep and third trimester articles to help you keep the preparations going:

Hospital Bag Checklist-1
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

Are you ready to have an even better birth?

Everything in your hospital’s childbirth class – plus so. much. more. Get the knowledge and tools necessary for a positive birth experience – no matter how you deliver!

Natural Birth Class

Eliminate the what-ifs and feel strong and ready for your unmedicated birth.

Start here if birthing without an epidural is your goal!

Epidural Birth Class

Let go of fear and feel fully prepared for (and unafraid of!) your epidural birth.

Start here if you know you want that epidural – or you’re not sure what your birth goals are!

C-Section Birth Class

Release anxiety and gain a sense of control for your C-section birth.

Start here if you have a planned C-section on the horizon. You deserve birth education too!