30 Things to Do in the Third Trimester
Use this ultimate third trimester checklist for the tasks, treats and tips we’ve collected for late pregnancy to-do’s!
1. Learn about labor and birth if you haven’t already: Your provider or hospital might provide classes, but they may be limited in schedule or restricted to covering local logistics. You deserve current, evidence-based education that is relevant helpful to your individual experience in labor and childbirth, and there are many options available today for private, group-based, and expert facilitated birth and labor prep classes.
2. Consider a lactation class if you haven’t already: Prenatal education is one of the best ways to prevent feeding challenges, and professional support can resolve the most common problems that some lactating parents face. Prepare yourself with some info ahead of time - if you can follow up with a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding professional through your class or insurance, even better!
3. Indulge in some new maternity clothes or get creative with the ones you have: Getting a little uncomfortable in that one pair of pants, or finding your shirts riding high? If buying a few more pieces will help you move through your day with more ease - it’s worth it, and you deserve something nice after nearly 10 months of pregnancy! If you want to stick with what you have, get creative with loose and flexible clothing, like wrap skirts with t-shirts, or maxi dresses with an open button down. Even “re-sized” leggings or pants that have been altered to accommodate pregnancy can be supported with a long (and cute) pair of suspenders.
4. Make time for celebrating with a shower or ceremony: Today’s baby showers are reflections of thousands of years of tradition in communities around the world. Every culture finds ways to honor the pregnant person, their baby’s anticipated arrival, and their family’s joy. This is a beautiful way to communally acknowledge an individual’s transition into parenthood and an opportunity for your family and friends to gift you with love and gifts for your early parenting journey.
5. Create or finalize your birth plan: Practicing informed consent means understanding the most important information about your choices and having the opportunity to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Collaborative decisions between pregnant clients and their medical teams tend to have the best outcomes, and an effective birth plan supports that communication. Use this birth plan guide and template to start outlining your preferences, questions and concerns, with the goal of having a helpful document to reference in empowered decision-making moments.
6. Send out a meal train sign-up to well-wishers: Approved postpartum visitors should be prepared to help, and people who live far away may still want to offer support - meal trains are one of the best ways to engage your social network, eat well for your and your baby’s health, and coordinate if and who you will see in the early days, which can be difficult. Meal assistance is also one of the most impactful ways a friend can help without asking too much of your own energy or time. Ask folks to cook, send delivery, run grocery errands, or even donate towards a subscription service. A visitor who stops by for 20 minutes can heat something up in the microwave or load the dishwasher to minimize your workload and make their visit that much more helpful.
7. Prepare your postpartum supplies and support systems: Investing time and patience in your postpartum recovery supports your long term health and future pregnancies - but doing so may take a little planning! Use this template to get started, or ask your provider about any special recovery setup or recommendations they have for the six weeks after birth.
8. Book yourself holistic body care from a pregnancy-experienced practitioner: Pregnant women who work with experienced professionals in acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy and even physical therapy often report more comfort and ease in recovering from labor, and some experience easier labors in comparison with their other births. Many of these modalities support overall body relaxation, central nervous system function, and the physiological benefits of caring touch, tension relief and postural support. Just be sure to find someone who is trained to work with pregnant individuals and voice any health issues or concerns you have if you haven’t tried this kind of treatment before.
9. Continue with your plan of medical care and prenatal visits: You will likely have a prenatal visit nearly weekly as you near your estimated due dates. Visits might include ultrasounds if your provider relies on that technology to assess your baby’s position, but understand that late in pregnancy these exams are not considered very accurate for estimating baby’s size. If you have any health complications related to pregnancy, you may be asked to come in for weekly non-stress tests, and depending on your work situation, common pregnancy discomforts, and other logistics it can be a lot to handle! We recommend speaking to your provider candidly to ask what to expect in these final weeks and see if they can write a note for your employer, or do anything else to support your efficient scheduling of third trimester appointments.
10. Pack your labor/hospital bag: Perhaps you’ve already packed your go-bag once - or twice! Whether you are planning to have your baby at a hospital, birth center, or at your home, it’s a good idea to ready these essential items for you, baby and your primary support person so that you can feel prepared and comfortable no matter what.
11. Pee frequently and continue to hydrate - it will get better! We know, we know - you’ve heard it before. But this and the other aspects of basic pregnancy self-care still apply, no matter how annoying it is to go to the bathroom so often. Try taking small sips frequently (instead of long gulps occasionally), use a straw for easy access, and consider front-loading your water earlier in the day...but understand that your growing baby may just press on your bladder anyway.
12. Take care for your Group B strep test (approximately week 37): Group B Streptococcus is a common everyday bacteria that up to a third of pregnant women carry in their body. Among those women, about half of their babies will be exposed to GBS at some point in labor, and while most of them will be okay, a small number of them could get seriously ill. This is why US maternity patients are screened for GBS late in pregnancy, so that pregnant people and their care providers can make a plan to prevent neonatal infection, usually with the use of antibiotics during active labor. The screening includes a vaginal and rectal swab that is sent to a lab. In other countries, or if someone’s status is unknown, a laboring person is only given antibiotics if they show or have risk factors for infection.
We can’t predict easily which 33% of women will have a GBS-positive result but there are some risk factors that make GBS and other infections more likely, including social determinants like racism and the lack of support for most teen mothers. As research continues to reveal more information about bacteria, the gut microbiome, immune health and lifestyle, it is plausible that recommendations to prevent an overload of bacteria like GBS would include:
- getting enough rest and drinking plenty of clean water
- prioritizing hydration and a whole food diet rich in green and fermented vegetables, supplemented with prenatal vitamins
- minimizing exposure to high amounts of sugar
- practicing consistent self-care, hygiene, and avoiding vaginal douche products
- practicing your favorite stress management tools through pregnancy.
13. Eat plentiful protein: Protein is responsible not only for your - and your baby’s - muscles - it also provides ALL of the building blocks for everything from hormones and neurotransmitters to organ tissues, nervous system connections, immune cells and more. Researchers have recently caught up with the recommendations of traditional midwives, who have long emphasized the importance of sufficient protein in preventing complications, supporting long term maternal health, building strength and energy for labor, and providing the needed elements of postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. Aim for 100 grams of protein per day in the third trimester, remembering that abundant protein can be found in simple, every-day combos!
- 2 fried eggs in butter = 12-17 grams
- 1 cup of yogurt = 12 grams
- Oat and grain granola with raw sunflower seeds = 18 grams
- Caesar salad with half a chicken breast and parmesan = 30 grams
- Brown rice stir fry with peas, tofu, mushroom, bok choy = 25 grams
- Nut butter on an apple = 8 grams
14. Indulge in some me-time: Hey, you. Yeah you, the one reading this. When was the last time you tuned out external obligations, took some time to journal, treated yourself to some pampering, or drove out to a favorite viewpoint? If you are reading this in your third trimester, you’ve probably been busy tying up loose ends, or perhaps been feeling busy covering work transitions, or spending final pre-baby time with your non-pregnant friends and partner. And that is all worthy and valid of your energy - just remember that you are still YOU as well as parent-to-you-know-who, and deserve some of your own time and attention.
15. Enlist your true and trusted helpers: If you haven’t already, the third trimester is a good time to get clear on who, exactly, you can count on for help, now and once your baby arrives. This may include someone close to you who can provide physical support, watch your other children, offer cleaning or cooking in the first few days, or help with errands or getting to a medical appointment. Whatever kind of support you might end up needing, confirming the contact info, availability and appropriate tasks for each party now will make it easier for everyone involved, and free up some of your mental energy to actually receive that support when the time comes, instead of trying to coordinate it.
For Your Baby
16. Note baby’s movements, or kick counts: Some health care providers may discuss kick counts or tracking baby’s movements late in pregnancy, so discuss this with your provider. Generally, it is not necessary to count exact kicks or movements so much as have a baseline understanding of your baby’s normal movement throughout the day. Some people may find it fun or reassuring to count how long it takes to feel 10 movements - which on average takes 2 hours or less. If you don’t have a sense of your baby’s daily activity/sleep rhythms, you can make a formal count to help you discuss any changes with your doctor, and if you notice any prolonged change or can’t count 10 movements over a few hours, call your medical provider. They may want to check on your baby and if anything feels off for you, it is better to be safe and reassured.
17. Talk to your baby: Verbal prenatal bonding is real and available to you as early as about 24 weeks. They can respond to familiar tones and can distinguish between their pregnant parent’s voice and other adults, and verbal exchanges inform brain stimulation and development as well as the foundation of social learning and bonding. Whether it be a “good morning” song, a conversation during kick counts or playtime, casual chats throughout the day describing your world, or a bedtime lullaby, talking or singing to your baby is a fun way to connect and build the early moments of your relationship while lowering physiological stress due to the positive effects of bonding hormones.
18. Check your safe sleeping space for baby: Safe baby sleep means using the right kind of sleeping surface and environment so that your baby can sleep safely while they continue learning to self-regulate their breathing, temperature and heart rate. All experts and medical organizations strongly suggest that newborns sleep in the same room as a sober, non-smoking parent for at least the first six months of life. There are some detailed US guidelines for different kinds of sleep setups available through the CDC, La Leche League and the University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Sleep Lab.
19. Take an infant care or newborn class: Believe us, just one round of diaper-changing practice or swaddling can make a world of difference in confidence. You’ll also learn about common newborn behavior, signs and symptoms to look out for, and some of the early processes and care considerations you may encounter between birth and your baby’s first birthday. Check out Seven Starling's Newborn Care class, or learn basics (and more!) as part of our monthly Pregnancy or Parenthood subscription.
20. Wash your babies bedding and clothing: Most sheets and clothing come from stores or warehouses where they may have been exposed to allergens, or contamination from manufacturing and shipping facilities. It’s a good idea to wash any fabrics that will come in contact with your baby’s sensitive skin, using a no-fragrance gentle detergent for any newborn items and considering if your own soaps or detergents might be too strong for your newborn’s senses.
21. Keep eating what nourishes you: We’ve already mentioned protein, and the benefits of vegetables in supporting gut health. Know that every time you choose to eat foods that meet your own nutritional needs, you are also supporting your baby’s developmental health, immune system, and their strength and resilience for birth, recovery and learning to live outside of the womb. Eating the foods that help you feel strong, energized and healthy can help you carry that feeling into labor and beyond, and your newborn will benefit from all the times you said, “Yes” to your nourishment.
22. Finalize your diaper changing station and/or nursery: It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you will want a clean and convenient set up for your diapering, which is frequent and can create a lot of waste - no pun intended - if your setup doesn’t include a way to dispose of dirty diapers, whether cloth or disposable. Unlike some of the more advanced play setups or older baby items that you won’t need for many weeks, this is one of the few essentials for the newborn days, along with your attention, love and care.
23. Install a carseat and assemble baby gear: You will not be able to leave your birth facility without a properly installed car seat. You might also want to practice setting up your stroller, and if you are using a newborn sling carrier, you might try it on and see how it works. Test out any other supplies and be sure to use current car seat installation guidelines for your family’s safety as well as convenience.
24. Baby proof the house: It will be some time before your newborn is a toddler reaching, crawling, walking and grabbing through every possible danger you never realized existed. But time flies, and even young babies learn to roll over, grasp at whatever is in front of them and, perhaps most popularly, put things in their mouths. Here are just a few suggestions for the main rooms in your house:
- Turn down the hot water heater to avoid overly hot water when bathing infants
- Put toxic chemicals like cleaning supply or insecticides in secured cabinets
- Cover and tuck away electric wires and outlets, reposition cord trip hazards
- Make sure your house is smoke free or very well-ventilated.
- Put non-slip grips on all rugs and carpets
- Cover sharp edges of furniture with padding or rearrange
- Lock any doors or low windows where a child could fall any height
- Restrict access to water such as hot tubs, pools or baths
- Secure or tie off pull cords, curtain strings, or other hanging items that could cause strangulation or be pulled down on top of a small child
- Help your younger children to separate and store small toys and items that could be choking hazards
- Make a safe, contained flat space for baby to play and practice tummy time
- Use gates to block off stairwells or set boundaries in open ares
25. Choose a pediatrician: Choosing your child’s health care provider can feel just as important as choosing your own health care, and it is. The pediatric provider who cares for your baby will be responsible for standard recommended appointments up through grade school, so you could be seeing them for years to come. Of course, you can change providers if you need to, but if you do some research ahead of time, you are more likely to find a pediatrician who can meet your needs and preferences around scheduling, proximity, cost, care approach, and personality from the start.
For the Memories
26. Pregnancy glamour/nature/theme-of-your-choice photo shoot! Pregnancy may feel like a long process, but this third trimester for this pregnancy happens only once! Now is a great time to honor all the ways you’ve been nurturing this journey and the incredible transformation your body has made along the way.
27. Write a letter to your baby: Maybe it’s addressed to them as an adult, or at their first double-digit birthday. Maybe you write it out by hand and put it in their baby book, or email it to a special account you made just for their future self. However you do it, taking some time to communicate, in writing, the anticipation, reflections, goals, hopes and wishes you have right now can be a wonderfully soothing practice and some people find it incredibly healing or inspiring, whether or not their child ever reads the letter.
28. Start a baby book or other memento of infant-hood: Cell phone pictures are great, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned baby book or photo album. There are plenty of affordable ways to print out your favorite pregnancy photos, ultrasound pics, or write an illustrated list of milestones to come. You can buy one pre-designed or assemble your own using a photo album, crafting paper, or even artwork from family and friends.
29. Have a last pre-baby date, friends night (with mocktails) or weekend road trip: Let’s be honest - life will change after your first baby, and probably change again plenty of times after that. The third trimester can be rather romantic, or nostalgic, as you take account of all that has led you to this moment in family-making. Take some time to love up and celebrate your partnership, or spend some #rememberwhen moments with your closest friends and a soft rule that no one has to talk about the baby or the pregnancy, unless you want to!
30. Collect video messages for you and baby from loved ones and friends: Especially with family members and networks spread across countries and continents, it’s important to cultivate community and commemorate this major life event! Asking your dear ones to send you a short video message can be as simple as a text or more detailed, with specific questions or requests of what you’d like participants to address in their message. You can ask them to share their newborn advice, say a special blessing, or relay their first words to your baby. This can be a great “welcome-home” collection to watch after you’ve had your baby, and then to view again with the people who made it, perhaps at your child’s first birthday.