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A Third Trimester To-Do List


Now that I've entered the third trimester, it's finally dawning that there will be a new person living in my home very soon. A new person who is helpless and utterly dependent on me and my spouse, for a very long time. (Inhale, exhale.)

This means kicking into mommy gear (who knew that was in there?) and working my way through a fairly hefty checklist. It's exciting, overwhelming, and scary.

But let's just rest our attention on "exciting" for the moment (can you tell I've been doing some directed awareness practices as birth prep?), as we look at a list of stuff you also may want to address in your third trimester if you haven't already. Ready?

Take a Hospital Tour

The idea is to get familiar with where you'll be giving birth. You may be able to see a labor and delivery room, understand check-in procedures, find out where to park your car—all good things to know before the big day. And if the place really doesn't jive with you, now is the time to figure out how to make it work, or find a better option

I booked and went on mine about a week ago. Glad it's over—not my favorite thing. It was everything I feared and more—pretty cold, strict, and factory-like. A huge portion of the tour was about the cost of the private rooms—which is typically New York Real Estate cracker-barrels insane. And if you don't shell out for the two-night minimum (at a minimum of $550 a night, choke), your partner can't stay with you. Awesometown. But whatever, tour, done. Depending where you live, you might want to book yours soon—ours was almost not possible because I was such a slacker with only three months to go. This is where you can also be grateful you don't live in New York.

Take Classes: Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, and Infant CPR

The holy trinity of baby prep is pretty essential if you, like most of us, don't have a village full of women with mama experience to come make a diapering pro of you. Your hospital may offer some or all of these, often as a combo package. Or most cities have centers that do. Google around and find someplace that seems like a good fit. If you're doing them ala carte, the American Red Cross near you may have CPR classes and the local La Leche League chapter may have breastfeeding classes. The idea is to learn all these things in the cool of the moment, well before there's a crying or fevery or non-latching baby on your hands. My local place charges $175 for all three two-hour classes. Honestly, not bad, considering.

For me, it's all about feeing a little bit less freaked and more confident when I get home. I'm sure I'll have to re-learn plenty of the details, but I figure it's great to start laying a foundation in my hormone-addled brain now. And thankfully the huz is coming with me, so his how-are-we-going-to-pay-for-this-kid-addled brain will be a co-server for all this new data.

Pick a Pediatrician

This is maybe one of the strangest things on my list. Really? A doctor for a person who's not here yet? But I guess it's no odder than washing and folding hand-me-down onesies. But, yeah. Ask mamas in your area for recommendations, then start calling around. What do you want/need in a doctor? For me it's a holistic bent and a willingness to vaccinate on a shifted schedule—plus, of course, they've got to take my insurance. For you maybe location is key, or being a certain gender, understanding any religious health considerations, etc. Call and ask for a meet-and-greet. You want to trust this person, so a good gut feeling has to line up with a nice rational sense of trust

The most highly recommended pediatrician near me has monthly group meet-and-greets, which are, of course, already booking up. I need to get on that, stat.

Hire a Doula

Optional, of course. But having a doula attend your birth is likely to greatly improve your labor experience. They're non-medical birth assistants, there to provide you and your partner with emotional and practical support. Is there a mean nurse? She'll handle it. Lights too bright? She's got it. Feeling like you simply can't handle another contraction? She'll encourage you and/or grab the doc if intervention is needed.

For me a doula is essential to feeling like I can face birth in a medical setting. You can look on the DONA website for folks near you, or call/Google around in your area. Talk on the phone, then meet in person if you get a good feeling and their skills and personality match up with your needs. I interviewed five by phone and two in person before picking ours. We looked for experience (our has attended more than 1,000 births—though we would have been fine in the hundreds); specific experience with our docs in our hospital (they know a lot of the nurses and have gone out of their way to build relationships there); and a general sense of feeling like I wouldn't mind her attending my most primal, vulnerable moment.

Also, make sure to ask who her back-up is, and talk to her—you never know when a client might go into labor just before you. If it's out of bounds financially (they can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to $3K), think about who/if you might want there supporting you and your partner. Maybe your best friend is a nurse or just a very loving, grounded presence. Or your sister-in-law has 10 kids and you adore her. Ask—most people will be honored and honest about whether they're up for the journey.

Take a Birthing Class

Though we dropped out of ours—three hours on a yoga mat was more than my sacrum could handle—they are massively helpful. They cover everything from the stages of labor to comfort techniques to what to expect from your care providers, and lots, lots more. Ask your doc or midwife if they have recommendations, or see if any local classes exist at a hospital or a stand-alone center. If you're not going that route, here are some good movies and books to check out. Though we dropped out, we are going to a single three-hour workshop that's basically about how the huz can physically and emotionally help during labor. I've also been reading like crazy.


For me, this has been the most fun part of preparing. Though we only have half our bedroom to work with, it's been a joy mapping it out, getting bargains on furniture, setting up a registry for all we'll need for the room and baby, making art, fixing broken things, and more. It's been a way to give my inner HGTV-addict  a creative outlet, bond with my man, and create a home I hope will feel cozy and welcoming to the dude living in my belly all these months.

Those are the biggies, though there also may be:

  • Make arrangements for day care
  • Make arrangements for post-baby mama care and baby support (a post-partum doula, mother-in-law who doesn't drive you nuts, frozen meals or quality take-out on speed dial, etc.)
  • Sign up for a cloth diaper service
  • Create a baby registry if you haven't already
  • Plan a baby shower if you haven't already
  • Keep taking great care of yourself! Taking vitamins, exercising, eating veggies, drinking plenty of water, etc.
  • Enjoy time alone and with your partner. First kid? Last chance for a while!
  • Book a babymoon
  • Gather addresses for thank you cards and birth announcements now so you're not trying to do that while sleep deprived
  • RELAX. This can all seem super-overwhelming. So ask for support, or drop anything that feels optional. A baby really needs crib, boob, diaper, and love. The rest you'll figure out. 
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