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I am a list person. I make grocery lists, to-do lists, lists of things I want to buy, lists of things I want to make. I’m a list person. So needless to say, I had a whole big list of things to do before while I was pregnant before my baby was born. It was actually super helpful because not only did it keep me busy until he got here, the things I did were things that helped me out once he was born. I wasn’t rushing around trying to get addresses for announcements or worrying about little things like what we were going to have for dinner once we got home. I was able to stay relaxed and enjoy the time with our new bundle of joy because I had planned things beforehand. Today I want to share that big list of things to do before your baby is born with you!
This list has 25 things to do before your baby is born that will help make it easier and more enjoyable for you! These are 25 things that I personally did that you may or may not find helpful. They aren’t in any particular order, and if you have anything else to add, feel free to leave a comment and contribute!
1. Pick a birth announcement. If you live far from family and friends, or if you just want to show off your perfect new baby (who doesn’t want that?), a birth announcement is a great way to introduce your newborn. You can either do something simple yourself by copying something on Pinterest or you can use a photo website with premade layouts. If you’ve already decided what you want before your baby is born, you won’t have to stress about picking a birth announcement after they’re born.
2. Gather addresses. If you do decide you want to send out birth announcements, it can be even more stressful to gather all the addresses and figure out who you want to send them to after baby is born. So do it before! You can compile them all into a Word document with a label template and print them out while you are pregnant so once you get your announcements, you just have to put the sticky labels on the envelopes and send them away. Plus if you work on it while you are pregnant you can have time to think about who you want to send them to.
3. Get a waterproof bed pad. Not for baby, for you. My husband and I have a nice pillowtop mattress that my parents bought us when we got married, and I was not about to have my water break on it and ruin it. I was very worried that if my water did break in the middle of the night, we would have to leave fast and the amniotic fluid would do some serious damage to our mattress while we were away at the hospital. So instead of being nervous to fall asleep as your due date approaches, invest in something like this that you can just put under the sheets on your side of the bed. And don’t try and be cheap and think you can get one of those plastic drop cloths that you use for painting. I tried that at first and it made way too much noise for me to even be able to fall asleep. Which at that point in your pregnancy you need to try and get as much as you can between the ten bathroom trips each night. And even if your water doesn’t break until you are at the hospital, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
4. Pack your bags. Since you never know when baby is going to come, the sooner the better with this one. You should pack a bag for you, a bag for baby, and if your husband is smart, he will let you pack a little bag for him. I had my bags packed and sitting by the front door a month before my due date. Yes, I was excited, but I was also prepared! Here is a list of what I packed in my hospital bag, and here is a list of what I packed in my baby’s hospital bag. And you can also get access to my free printable Hospital Bag Checklist by subscribing to the Mommy Monthly email!
5. Get your carpets cleaned. Now this may not be appropriate for everyone, but living in an apartment that has nasty carpet and weird stains from the previous tenants made me really want to get our carpets cleaned. So about a month before my due date I went and rented a Rug Doctor machine and cleaned our carpets. Not only did they smell amazing and look amazing after, I felt much better about our Little J rolling around on the floor. Plus, if you haven’t done this in a while, it might be a nice thing to do before baby is born because after, you are not going to have time to do this. I also did a Google search for some coupons and called around at a few stores to get the best deal. You definitely will want to look into that.
6. Pick a pediatrician. If you don’t have a pediatrician for older children (or if you don’t have older children, and therefore, no pediatrician), it might be a good time to look for a pediatrician. Ask friends, look online at websites like healthgrades.com (but be cautious of how many people have reviewed them), and see if your hospital has contracts with any local offices. It’s much easier to have this done before you have your baby because you don’t want to be at the hospital holding your perfect little baby and have a minor panic attack when the nurse asks you who your baby’s pediatrician is and how soon you need to schedule your first appointment. Having a pediatrician picked out prior to your baby’s birth is nice because you can get home and immediately schedule their appointment without worrying about if you are calling a good one. Some pediatricians actually will let you come meet with them while you are pregnant for a kind of “meet and greet” appointment. I actually did this the month before Little J was born and felt very good about the pediatrician my friends recommended. So it’s definitely worth looking into. You also don’t want to get to your first appointment and find out your doctor is not very friendly and doesn’t have patience with your many questions from your first week home. Eek. Just pick a pediatrician before.
7. Pre-wash baby’s clothes. Again, this is something you don’t have to do and which won’t be for everyone, but the worrier in me wanted to make sure that all of Little J’s clothes would be perfect for him and that if he ended up having sensitive skin, they would already be washed and ready to go. I used Dreft, and I loved the way it smelled. It actually was really fun to wash, fold, and put away all of his tiny clothes. And yes, sometimes I would go and just smell the clothes in his closet. It’s just nice to have all of the clothes washed and put away before baby is born, especially if a lot of their clothes are from consignment sales or hand-me-downs from friends.
8. Invest in a nursing bra (or two). If you decide you are going to nurse your little baby, you will want to get a few nursing bras. You aren’t supposed to use underwire until you’ve been breastfeeding for three months, and I personally like ones without because I can use them when I’m sleeping and still be comfy. I would definitely recommend getting at least one nursing bra because trying to put nursing pads in a regular bra and moving it up all the time when you feed baby is pretty tough and it’s just easier to have a fun nursing bra that clips and makes things easily and quickly accessible for when baby is screaming because he’s hungry. You can of course do this after baby is born, but it’s definitely nice to be able to bring them to the hospital and wear them starting that first day. If you want tips on how to choose a nursing bra, check out this post.
9. Check to see if your insurance covers a breast pump. If you are going to nurse your baby, a breast pump is really nice to have for the times that you won’t be able to nurse baby or for when baby decides to sleep through the night and you wake up engorged and crying in pain because you have two rock-hard lumps on your chest. This particular point was very important for me, because the hospital called and got the wrong information from someone at my insurance, and after being told it was covered, we got the fancy breast pump, only to find out four months later that it was not covered at all and we owed like $300. So I would recommend calling yourself (maybe even a few times to verify information) to see if your insurance covers a breast pump. It is really not fun to get a large bill later. And trust me, you will want at least some kind of breast pump.
10. Make freezer meals. I was lucky and had a friend due two weeks before me and another friend who had just had a baby and already made a few freezer meals. We got together a month before my due date and made a ton of freezer meals. This is fun because it can take one day or it can take a few days (and when you are getting close to your due date you want to keep yourself busy). Just search Pinterest for freezer meals and you will have recipes galore. My husband and I found out that the recipes that we liked most were actually not crockpot ones, but ones that were casserole-like and were baked in the oven. Lasagna, pasta, chicken fajitas, those types of meals were our personal favorites. And making freezer meals is really nice for after baby is born because once your family goes back home and you are left alone, the last thing you want to do is make a hot meal for you and your husband. After two days of making freezer meals, our tiny freezer had almost no room for anything else. But it was so worth it. Here’s a great post about freezer meal tips and recipes to make before your baby is born!
11. Attend classes at your hospital. Most hospitals offer free baby classes for expectant parents. I would highly recommend checking to see what kinds of classes you can take. The Mister and I signed up for three, and even though he only went to one and I only went to two, it was really helpful. I took a notebook and filled up multiple pages with things like how to give baby a bath, how to care for a circumcision, breastfeeding tips, how to swaddle baby, and how to change a diaper (somehow I made it through life without changing a single diaper until Little J was born). Plus you can ask the teachers/nurses any additional questions you might have. And it’s fun to see lots of other pregnant people because it makes you feel better about how large and round your own belly is.
12. Install baby’s car seat. I seriously think I drove around for about five weeks with Little J’s empty car seat in the backseat of my car before he was born. It’s not super hard to do, but you do not want to get to the hospital and realize that you left your new baby’s ride at home. A lot of places will offer car seat installation checks where you can bring your car in and they will check to make sure you’ve installed the car seat correctly. I was going to do this until the Mister made fun of me and told me he knew what he was doing. Which he did, but if you haven’t put a car seat in it might be a good idea to go have it checked out by a professional car seat checker (they’re real, trust me). And when we got our convertible car seat I did take it in to get checked. Very helpful. For more information about keeping kids safe in their car seats, check out this post about 8 Car Seat Mistakes You Are Probably Making.
13. Bake cookies for the nurses. This obviously shouldn’t be done until pretty close to your due date, but it is really nice to have a bag of cookies that you can give to the nurses once you are officially checked into the hospital. Hopefully this helps them feel more inclined to give you that epidural when you are crying and feel like you can’t take the contractions anymore. And if more than a few days goes by and you aren’t in labor, it’s always nice to have a bag of cookies waiting for you to make you feel better. You can make more for the nurses after you eat the first batch. And yes, I know this is kind of silly, but it’s just a nice gesture. Those nurses work hard!
14. Get 2 waterproof mattress pads for the crib. I think most people probably only have one waterproof mattress pad on their crib, but I am clever and put layered a waterproof mattress pads and then a fitted sheet, and then another mattress pad and another fitted sheet. That way, when Little J wets the bed or throws up in the middle of the night, I can just pull the first layer off and he still has another protective layer there in case it happens again. You don’t want to be trying to wash and put on a new mattress pad and sheet in the middle of the night. This has come in handy a few times for me. Definitely worth the extra bit of money to have a spare mattress pad on the bed. You’ll thank me in the middle of the night.
15. Paint your nails. This may seem silly, too, but you are going to be taking a lot of pictures at the hospital holding your new baby, and since you are going to feel chubby and still fat after they are born, it is always nice to have a little bit of glam to make you feel better! I painted my nails a nice baby blue color (since I was having a boy, duh) and it actually turned out really nice for the pictures that we had taken at the hospital. And if you paint your nails too early and they start chipping before your baby is born, you can always re-paint them and give them a nice fresh coat. Plus, once your baby is born you are not going to have time to paint them and let them dry (especially if it’s a color that needs two coats). Nope.
16. Buy some “in-between” clothes. One of my friends actually suggested this and I didn’t do it and I regretted it. As much as you want to be skinny again after your baby is born, it will not happen immediately. And since you won’t be pregnant anymore, you will not want to wear your maternity clothes. So before you have your baby, go buy some “in-between” clothes that you can wear until you fit back into your regular clothes. It will definitely help your emotional state. I really wish I had done this because I couldn’t fit back into any of my jeans or shorts until Little J was about 2-months-old, so I ended up wearing sweatpants or my maternity pants until then. And without a large, round belly, the band on your maternity pants is all saggy and you feel dumb wearing them. So before you have your baby, just get a pair or two of in-between pants, and maybe a few looser-fitting tops. PinkBlush Maternity has some great clothes for looking good during and after pregnancy.
17. Look through your baby’s baby book. If you haven’t gotten a baby book, I highly recommend it. I just got one from Babies R Us for Little J and it has been awesome. There are usually sections you can fill out before your baby is born about you and Daddy, the day you found out you were pregnant, the ultrasound, and things like that. Plus you can see if there is a spot for a newspaper clipping from the day they are born and baby hand and footprints. Otherwise you might not remember to get a newspaper or baby’s footprints in the actual baby book. Plus it’s cute to see the pages that talk about baby’s birth and you will cry and be excited and scared and thrilled all at the same time while looking through them. Yes, that is from personal experience.
18. Charge your camera battery. Yes, I know that like everyone has a smart phone and can take pictures on their phones, but it is a good idea to bring your camera with a full battery to the hospital. My camera takes really nice pictures, and it was nice to be able to have my phone as a backup instead just in case. Plus, you will be taking like a million pictures at the hospital of your perfect new baby so you want to make sure your camera can handle all that pressure.
19. Do a test run to the hospital. If this is your first baby, or you haven’t delivered at the hospital you are planning on, it is always a good idea to do a test run and see not only how long it takes you to get there, but to make sure you know exactly where to park and go once you get there. I didn’t think the signs outside of our hospital were super clear and it was nice to go and make sure we knew where to park and then where to go in and what floor to go to and everything. Because once you are in labor, you do not want to waste any time. Plus it’s really fun to go to the hospital and think about how soon your baby will be born there. At least it was fun (and emotional) for me!
20. Stock up on hand sanitizer. My personal favorite place to shop is Bath and Body Works, and they usually are having a sale on their little tiny sanitizers where you can get 5 for $5. I always stock up on them. Maybe it’s just the germaphobe in me, but since Little J has been born, I cannot get enough hand sanitizer. It was really nice to always have some for people to use before they held him, especially right after he was born before he had any immunizations. And having a medical student as a husband made me want to keep him healthy even more (thanks for the worries, medical school). It’s just a good idea to keep your baby healthy.
21. Make your birth plan. Some OBGYNs or hospitals will give you a sheet to fill out, but some don’t, so it’s always nice to be prepared and at least feel like you are going to be in control. Your hospital may provide you with one when you pre-register, or you can check out this helpful post with things you should include on your birth plan. You can fill in things about how you want your labor to go, what you want to do during labor, who you want in the room with you when baby is born, and if you want the chance to breastfeed right after baby is born. It is a really handy tool to have, and it can help put your mind at ease about delivery, even if you don’t completely stick to it during labor.
22. Get a special baby notebook and folder. After your baby is born you get a lot of handouts and information. It is really helpful to have a special place to store papers and write down all of the things you are told, because you are definitely not going to remember everything they tell you right before you are discharged and sent home. I decided to use my notebook to also write down questions that I might think of at home so that I wouldn’t forget to ask them while at the pediatrician. I also used my notebook to write down when Little J ate, what side he at on, how long he ate for, and when he had wets and dirties. Even at five-months-old I still use my notebook to write down his feeding schedule, otherwise I would forget when he last ate and from what side he ended on. It’s really nice to have a special place to put all of that, and you can bring it in and show the doctor so when she asks how often baby eats, you can be very precise. The folder is really handy because you get a lot of paperwork at the hospital and instead of shoving it all in your bag, you can nicely store it in your folder and keep it organized so that when you get home you know exactly where to look for that handout on immunizations. If you decide to go to baby classes at the hospital you can also use the notebook and folder for information you get there.
23. Get a package of milk freezer bags. I actually didn’t even think about using these for what I’m going to tell you, but I wish I would have because it would have helped a lot. If you are going to have a pump, having a box of milk storage freezer bags is really helpful. Sometimes baby decides he doesn’t want to eat on one side and you get engorged and feel terrible. It is super handy to have the freezer bags so you can pump and then save the milk that you pump so that later, if you are going to be away from your baby, there is some milk for him ready in the freezer. Sometimes you will just get engorged and it hurts super bad and you will need to pump even a little bit so that you can sleep at night. It’s a waste to pour milk you pumped down the drain, so go ahead and freeze it! Plus you don’t want to send your husband on a late night or early morning run to Walmart to look for them. It’s nice to have a package on hand.
24. Look up a newborn photographer and baby poses. Some hospitals have contracts with baby photographers and they will actually come around to your rooms while you are there and take pictures. We were lucky and had the chance to get J’s pictures done while we were still in the hospital. Check to see if your hospital has something like this, and if they don’t, you might want to start looking around for a newborn photographer. Or, if you want to save money but still want pictures of your perfect baby, you can look on Pinterest at the many tutorials on how to photograph babies on your own. I also spent a lot of time looking at baby pose ideas, and even though we had pictures taken in the hospital, I took some at home based on the pictures I saw online. If you’re doing baby announcements this is especially handy, because once your baby is born you don’t want to have to try and look around for a photographer and ideas of how you might want to pose your baby. I spent a lot of time looking at poses, and the last thing you want to do after giving is birth is to stress about finding the perfect photographer and getting good pictures. It’s nice to plan ahead and have that all set up before.
25. Make Daddy feel special. Since our baby was due on March 2nd, I decided to make the Mister a “New Dad” kit for Valentine’s Day. A lot of times the mom gets pampered and showered and the dad can feel left out. Let him know how much you appreciate him and the support he has given (and will give you during labor) by putting together a special kit for him. I put in some soap, some Pop Rocks, tissues, a few books about daddies, a sports onesie, some Sour Patch Kids, some Diet Mt. Dew, air freshener, earplugs, and a few other little personal things. I made some cute tags that you can download here. Not only was it fun for me to make (and took a lot of time), it was nice to be able to give him something special after he had given me something special.
Most importantly, just get excited! I know it is the worst waiting around for your baby. Then once your due date passes you are just trying to do everything you can to pass the time. Just enjoy it and try to relax. Babies come when they are ready, and when they do, it is an incredible experience.
And if you need 15 more ideas of things to do before your baby is born, check out this post!