The end of pregnancy can feel like an eternity. The days are long, the aches and pains increase, maternity leave is right around the corner, and it feels like there are a million things to do before your bundle of joy arrives. My first baby was born at 36 weeks leaving me feeling all kinds of unprepared. I created a comprehensive third trimester checklist when I was pregnant with my next baby so that I wouldn’t have to feel like that again.
This guide contains everything you need to know to get you through to the home stretch including a list of symptoms to help you prepare for what to expect and a checklist so you can keep track of exactly what needs to get done.
What to Expect in the Third Trimester
Phew. You’ve finally made it to the third trimester. These are undoubtedly both the most exciting and stressful months of pregnancy.
These months will probably include a baby shower, finally deciding on a name, lots of kick counts, and finishing the nursery. Unfortunately, they might also include some of the most intense pregnancy symptoms you have had thus far. Below, I’ve listed exactly what you can expect.
- Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions)
- Backaches and pelvic pain
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent urination
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Swollen ankles and feet (edema)
- Varicose veins
- Increased fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Stretch marks
- Breast tenderness and enlargement
- Leaking colostrum (pre-milk)
- Increased fetal movements
- Difficulty finding a comfortable position
- Increased need for frequent bathroom breaks
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Increased pressure on the bladder and other organs
- Difficulty bending and reaching
- Increased sensitivity to heat
While these are common symptoms, it is always important to keep in mind how unique every pregnancy is. Some women might experience all of these symptoms, while other women experience just a few.
Remember to consult a healthcare provider anytime you are experiencing significant discomfort or have concerns. Make sure to advocate for yourself and your baby because a mama’s instincts are real!
The Ultimate Third Trimester Checklist
Now that you know just what to expect, it’s time to jump into my third trimester checklist! I’ve even included a free printable so that you can check off each item as you go. It includes some blank space to write in your own checklist items as well.
Prepare for Your Hospital Stay
Attend regular prenatal check-ups. You likely will have 4 between weeks 28-36 and weekly appointments from week 36 until delivery.
Discuss any concerns or questions with your healthcare provider. Before attending one of your final appointments make a list of any lingering questions about labor and delivery so you can be sure to get them answered.
Develop a birth plan outlining your preferences for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Discuss it with your healthcare provider. This is also a good time to discuss what newborn screening tests your hospital routinely gives.
Consider taking a tour of the hospital or birth center where you plan to give birth, if available, to familiarize yourself with the facilities and procedures.
Pack your hospital bag with essentials for labor, delivery, and postpartum stay. You can find my hospital bag checklist here!
Make sure your partner or support person has packed their bag, including necessary items for their comfort during your hospital stay.
Take care of legal and administrative tasks. This might include things like updating your health insurance, adding your baby to the insurance policy, and preparing any necessary paperwork.
Choose a pediatrician for your baby and schedule an introductory appointment or interview.
Research and consider options for cord blood banking if you’re interested in preserving your baby’s cord blood for potential future medical use.
Prepare for Postpartum
Arrange for postpartum support. This includes everything from organizing help with household chores, childcare for older siblings, or hiring a doggy sitter.
Prep and freeze meals. You will want some easy-to-throw-in-the-oven meals. This is a great task to pass off to anxious family members looking for a way to help out.
Make a Postpartum Care Kit. I am a big proponent of setting yourself up for success in postpartum by having everything you need in one place. Here’s how to do that.
Prep padsicles to have in the freezer. Learn how to make padsicles here!
Baby Gear & Nursery
Install and learn how to use your stroller and car seat correctly. There are car seat safety courses you can take and resources that will teach you how to properly get your car seat installed.
Set up the nursery and organize baby essentials such as clothes, diapers, and bedding.
Wash and organize baby clothes, blankets, and other fabric items. You will want to be sure to use a newborn-safe laundry detergent.
Decide what baby’s safe sleep space is going to be for the first few nights at home. This will probably be a bassinet or playpen in your room, as you will want your newborn near you for frequent nightly feedings.
Prepare a baby first aid kit.
Finish buying the necessary supplies for feeding like nursing bras, breast pads, a breastpump, or bottles.
Complete a birth class or childbirth education course to prepare for labor and delivery. I love the Birth It Up courses from Mommy Labor Nurse. She offers an epidural, natural, and c-section course. I actually took all 3 during my last pregnancy so I would be prepared for anything!
Take care of your emotional well-being by practicing self-care. This might include seeking support from loved ones or support groups, taking prenatal yoga classes, or learning relaxation techniques.
Prepare for breastfeeding (if breastfeeding will be part of your journey). I recommend checking out a few different lactation consultants and setting up an appointment with the one you like best.
As your due date quickly approaches, my biggest piece of advice is to just enjoy the end of your pregnancy! Rest, spend time with your partner, and take the steps listed in this third trimester checklist to be as ready as you possibly can.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to prepare in third trimester?
In your third trimester, it is important to prepare for your hospital or birthing center stay, pack your hospital bags, find a pediatrician and lactation consultant, complete your birthing class, get everything you need ready for postpartum, and finish purchasing all necessary baby gear.
What should I stop doing in my third trimester?
In the third trimester, you will likely want to stop traveling long distances. Besides that you can continue on as before, making sure to rest and reach out to your doctor with any concerns.
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