The list below will help you prioritize what you need to get done and make sure you're not forgetting anything so you can focus on mentally preparing for labor.
Labor & Birth Checklist
- Labor and parenting classes: Taking classes to help you prepare for labor and parenthood can be especially beneficial if you are a first time parent or if you are looking to have a different birth experience than previous ones. Classes can include Lamaze, breastfeeding course, newborn care, etc.
- Order or purchase labor and postpartum essentials: Be sure that you order your breast pump and purchase any necessities well before labor begins. These items can include nursing and feeding accessories, baby care items and things for the nursery (car seat, stroller, bassinet/crib).
- Take a hospital tour (if possible): Whether you are birthing at home or at the hospital, you should take a tour of the hospital so you can know what to expect during labor and delivery. Home birth could lead to a hospital transfer if complications arise and you will want to be familiar with the hospital policies and protocols beforehand. While a virtual tour isn't quite the same, it can still give you some insight about your care and stay.
- Finalize your birth plan: After mapping out your birth plan, you will want to go over your plan with your provider and discuss your wishes during and immediately after labor. Your doula can help you with all of the details and answer any questions you may have to complete your plan.
- Create a birth playlist: This fun activity is sure to get you in the right headspace for birth. And the great part is that you can add any type of music that help you move and stay focused during early and active labor. Feel free to bring headphones, earbuds or a small speaker for your birthing space.
- Pack your hospital bags: By 37 weeks, you will want to have your bags packed and ready to go in case your baby decides to come early. Here is a guide on what to pack.
- Delegate your work responsibilities: Decide when your last day of work will be and begin delegating responsibilities and reducing meetings around 30 weeks. If you have the option to work from home, you want to do that in the last few weeks. Make sure your have spoken with HR about the details of your leave.
- New parent celebration: take the time to celebrate yourself and the life growing inside of you. Take maternity photos, have a baby shower or mother's blessing ceremony, plan a Babymoon with your partner and soak up all the love and support you can during this precious time. You won't be able to experience this time again.
- Postpartum planning: having a postpartum plan ensures that you have the necessary time to adjust to life with a newborn and also recover from birth. Putting boundaries in place for family and friends is a good idea when thinking about visitors and your overall state postpartum. As time passes, your plan may adjust and that is perfectly fine. Things to think about and include in your postpartum plan: physical recovery, bonding with your newborn, your relationship with you partner, co-sleeping, breastfeeding/pumping, introducing a bottle, appointments, finances, returning to work after leave, childcare, etc. If you give birth prematurely, experience any type of trauma, loss (pregnancy or otherwise) or mental challenges before or during pregnancy, it may be a good idea to do some extended postpartum planning.
- Choose a pediatrician: Just like choosing a prenatal provider for yourself, you will want to take some time to choose a pediatrician for your baby. You will want to consider practice size, location, services provided, office hours and overall fit, care and support for your family.
- Explore childcare options: depending on the length of your leave and when/if you are planning to return to work, you will want to discuss and plan your childcare needs well in advance. Day care waiting list can be 6 months to over a year long. You will also want to consider your budget, quality of care, options (family care, home day care, nanny, or traditional day care) and location.
- Update insurance (health, life, etc.): this is something that you won't be able to officially do until after your baby is born, but it is a good idea to go ahead and start preparing.
- Preparing for the unexpected: While it may seem daunting to think about such things, you will want to be prepared for the unexpected when it comes to labor and birth. Premature birth, cesarean birth, a NICU stay or infant loss is always a possibility and it is better to be prepared for it than caught off guard and trying to make big decisions about the care of your baby in the moment.
If you have anything else to do outside of what is listed above, don't panic. Take each item as it comes, ask for help and remember, your baby won't know or care if it doesn't get done until after they are born. The goal is to lighten the load at a steady pace and lighten the stress.