Countdown to Baby

What to do Before Baby Arrives Checklist

Finding out you are pregnant can be one of the most exciting events of your life!   But, as the months pass by, it can also be one of the most nerve-wracking!  The unknown is always scary, but preparing for the things you have some control over makes the unknown a little less scary!  This is a checklist of some of the things that are helpful to do (or at least think about) while you are still pregnant.

What to do before baby arrives checklist

9 months to go


Whether you have been trying to become pregnant for months or years or whether this was a bit of a surprise, let the news sink in and enjoy this new chapter of your life!

8 months to go

Still not quite feeling real yet?  Thats okay!  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  

  • Now is the time to find an OB/midwife who you like and trust.  It’s important that this person is able to deliver your baby at the facility where you would like to delivery (hospital, birth center, home, etc.). It’s also important that this person has similar beliefs about pregnancy and delivery as you.  Its totally okay to “interview” a few different people to find the best fit.  Its also okay to change your mind and switch providers down the road in your pregnancy.  Don’t feel like you are locked in if the relationship is uncomfortable.
  • Start writing a journal!  It might sound cheesy, but writing a journal, and being able to look back at how far you have come, is a pretty cool thing.  You can buy yourself a pretty notebook and to celebrate all of the milestones along the way.  I used a planner so that it already had a calendar and I could write notes about my appointments, weight gain, baby’s measurements, etc right on the dates when they happened.

Need some ideas for journal prompts?  Try some of these!


7 months to go

Hang in there!  The first trimester can be rough, but usually the second trimester is much better!

Start thinking about whether you want to find out the baby’s gender.  If you didn’t do a blood test, you usually have the option to find out in the “anatomy ultrasound scan” which is around 18-22 weeks.  We chose not to find out Baby Bear’s gender and it was one of the most incredible surprises…..and motivation during the pushing phase ;). Initially Papa Bear wanted to find out, but afterwards even he agreed that it was awesome and he would like to wait for future babies.

If you do decide to find out, think about how you want to receive the information.  Do you want the ultrasound tech to tell you right there in the room?  Do you want them to write it down for you and Dad to open together at a nice dinner?  Do you want to give the note to a friend or family member and have a gender reveal celebration?

6 months to go

  • Many people like to send out or post announcements around this time.  Think about if you would like to post to social media or send something in the mail.  Would you like to wait to announce the gender as well?  
  • You can start building your baby registry now.  I used Amazon because its so easy for out of town friends and family and it has EVERYTHING!  Its usually a work in progress, but go ahead and get it started!
  • If you are planning to have a dedicated nursery, now is also a good time to get that room ready.  Sell or move furniture that you won’t use for baby.  Have Papa paint the walls.  Then you will have the space ready when your baby gear starts to come in!  Even with the best plans, it takes up more space than you realize!

5 months to go

  • Put together an accordion folder for all of your important baby related paperwork.  Set it up now so that when you start collecting paperwork, you have a place for it all to go!
  • If you think you would like to have maternity photos taken, start looking into photographers.  I know that it might not be in everyone’s budget, but we have always chosen to splurge on photos.  Its the one way that you can hold on to a fleeting memory.  I cherish my photos more than almost any other possession that I have!  See what style you like.  Ask about rates, availability, and what is offered.  Remember, at 8-9 months pregnant, you are probably going to be feeling a little uncomfortable and there is even the possibility that you could deliver by then!  If the photographer is used to doing maternity shoots, they will know a window that works well. Kory Maine, in San Diego, did our maternity photos as well as newborn photos and we love them!

4 months to go

  • If you are a working mama, you may be eligible for disability benefits during maternity leave or at least job protection under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Start collecting and working on your paperwork.  There is most likely a portion for your doctor to fill out.  Its easiest to bring it to one of your appointments.
  • Have you thought about how you would like to deliver?  There are so many options now!  Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are all pretty complicated in general!  I would 100% recommend taking a class. We actually took TWO plus a third just for Papa Bear.  At first, it seemed like major over kill.  But Papa Bear says the classes made a huge difference for him.  We did a one day class through the hospital that was a nice overview.  Then we did a Bradley Method Class with Emilie Southward in San Diego that was perfect.  (What I really like about Bradley Method is that its about pregnancy, birth, AND post-partum.  Not just about delivery day).  Papa Bear did a “Daddy Bootcamp” class that was just for dads and taught some basic baby care things and gave good resources.  Start looking into what classes you are interested in, what is available, and pick some dates.
  • If a natural / unmedicated delivery is something you would like to consider, it may also be a good idea to do some research on doulas.  See who is available near you, what their rates are, and what services they offer.  

3 months to go

Its getting to be the final stretch….no pun intended!  The idea of this little human coming OUT of you is probably getting to be a little real and a little scary! 

  • Now is a good time to take a tour of the hospital / birthing location of your choice.  Most hospitals offer tours at regular intervals.  Check their website and see if you need to sign up for a date.  
  • Write down any questions you may have about the facility and bring those questions with you.  Make sure you get them answered while you are there.
  • When you go for your tour, its a good idea to pre-register.  That way, when d-day (delivery-day!) comes, the paperwork part will be all taken care of.
  • Start drafting your birth plan or birth “preferences”. There are tons of templates online.  This one is wayyyy thorough, but it gives you lots of things to think about.  When you actually write your birth plan, I recommend one single page.
  • If you would like to have newborn photos taken, start researching photographers and reach out to see if they are available.  We chose to have some photos taken in the hospital and again at home a few days later.  If you are in the San Diego area, Kory Maine did ours and he is AMAZING!

2 months to go

You are getting so close!  And probably starting to get a little uncomfortable.  Your little one is nice and snug in there and you want to keep them “cooking” for as long as possible!

  • Install your car seat just in case the little one decides to make an early arrival. Its a good idea to have your car seat checked if you aren’t 100% confident in your installation skills. 
  • Research and select a pediatrician.  Make sure it is someone covered by your insurance and accepting new patients.  Give the office a call just to make sure.  You can even schedule an “interview” if you would like to meet the doctor first.
  • Make sure your disability and/or FMLA paperwork is complete and submitted.
  • Line up some friends or family to watch you pets or other children.
  • While you are getting your disability forms completed, you can also get forms and a prescription for a breast pump and accessories.  Most insurance companies cover a home breast pump and may cover accessories as well.  I used the Kiinde System and absolutely LOVE it!!  My insurance provided the adapter and all of the storage bags.
  • Assemble your stroller and other accessories that need to be assembled.
  • Look into breastfeeding classes or a breastfeeding support group if you plan to breastfeed.  Support groups love to host pregnant mamas, so don’t feel weird about going before you have your baby!  It’s a great way to ask some questions and talk to other breastfeeding mamas.

1 month to go

If you are a working mama, you may have the opportunity to take maternity leave a month before your due date.  If it is possible and makes sense for your family, I highly recommend it!  This is your last chance, for a while, to take care of just yourself!  

  • Even if you are still working, try to get some rest!
  • Pick up any last minute things for mama or baby.
  • Pack your hospital bag (checklist coming soon!)
  • Finalize your birth plan and make sure to share it with your doctor.  Keep a few copies in your important paper accordion too.
  • Practice your drive to the hospital / birthing location at different times of day to get a feel for how long it will take you to get there.
  • PRINT the “pre-hospital checklist” to put with your important paper folder.
  • Stock up on any house hold necessities so that you don’t have to worry about shopping with your newborn.  Some ideas are:
    • Pet supplies / dog food
    • Paper products (TP, paper towels, paper plates)
    • Shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent
  • Make a post partum care box – you will have just gone through some serious trauma.  It takes TIME to heal.  Having some things to make yourself more comfortable are really nice to have.
    • Pads
    • Nipple butter (if you plan to breastfeed)
    • Peri spray and balm (if you plan on having a vaginal delivery).  I ordered these after delivery.  They were the only things that made me more comfortable!
    • Cheap, comfortable underwear in a size larger than you would normally wear.
  • Make some freezer meals.  Some of the Meal of the Week Recipes like Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas and Lasagne can be made in advance and frozen.
  • Now is a great time to finish up some thank you notes for any gifts that you may have received.

After baby arrives

One of the most important things to remember after baby arrives is that your body just went though an INCREDIBLE thing!  Give it time to heal.  

There are some practical things that need to happen after baby arrives.  That checklist is coming soon!  If you downloaded the pre-hospital checklist, you will get an email when the after delivery checklist is ready.  Until then, enjoy every moment.  The days are long but the years are short.

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