What to Do Before Baby is Born

By Kristen
Page Updated on November 24, 2007

As Soon as the Pregnancy Test Is Positive

  • Quit those bad habits Even if you don't know exactly everything that is good or bad for you and your baby during pregnancy, quit as many bad habits as possible. You probably know the big ones, like smoking and drinking, so those are the best places to start. Then, find out what other things you need to avoid and work on quitting those too.
  • Improve your nutrition Start taking a multi-vitamin (preferably a pre-natal vitamin that you can get over the counter until you can get a prescription). Try to start eating healthier foods. You don't need to follow any specific diet, just do what you can to improve your eating habits.
  • Checkup on your insurance If you have health insurance find out what is covered and which hospitals / birthing centers and doctors / midwives you can use; if you don't have insurance look into getting insurance or financial support from local, state, and federal government programs. Having a baby can be mighty costly, so get as much help as possible. If you don't have insurance and don't qualify for any government programs, find out if there are any doctors in your area that will work with a payment plan.
  • Decide which hospital / birthing center you will use Some doctors only work with certain hospitals, so you may have to choose a doctor based on the hospital you want to use. If you want a specific doctor, your choice of birth location could be limited, but don't worry because so many hospitals and birthing centers aren't sterile, cold environments anymore. Most places allow visitors 24-hours a day, because you never know when baby will arrive, and have full rooming-in and a place for your partner to sleep. It's also a good idea to find out if they offer a bathtub or spa for water labor as well as various other labor tools you may wish to use.
  • Find a doctor / midwife and set up your first prenatal appointment Some want to see you immediately while others wait until you are 10 weeks or so along, but you must set up your appointment now because their schedules often fill up fast. Try to get referrals from friends and family members because there is nothing worse than getting a bum doctor when you need all the support, advice, and sensitive care you can get.
  • Buy books about pregnancy There are tons of pregnancy books out there, and they will make your pregnancy a bit easier by letting you know what to expect and easing your mind when something new and unexpected happens.
  • Announce your pregnancy to important family members and friends You'll need a support group as soon as your symptoms kick in, so prepare them now. (Who can wait to tell everyone anyhow?)

First Trimester

  • Start shopping for pregnancy comfort items It's amazing how quickly you go from being a normal every day person to being completely miserable and uncomfortable. Do yourself a favor and purchase any pregnancy comfort items now, such as pillows, baggy clothes, etc. You'll thank yourself for it later.
  • Sign up for classes If you decide to sign up for classes, you may need to sign up right now. Some classes have you sign up during your second trimester, but now is a good time to find out, so you don't miss the deadline. Contrary to popular belief, classes aren't necessary, but they can put your mind at ease. Often some good books and a weekly viewing of one of the many shows on television about giving birth will help you along.
  • Subscribe to pregnancy and parenting magazines This is also unnecessary, but it really does help prepare you mentally for what lies ahead by addressing topics that will be important to you in the days to come. If you're worried about paying for these subscriptions, just start checking out pregnancy websites and the websites for the manufacturers and producers of baby products (especially formula), and you'll start getting all sorts of free magazines, booklets, newsletters, etc.
  • Find a support group Sometimes just having friends and family members who have gone through pregnancy is enough, but what I actually enjoyed was finding other women at the same stage in pregnancy that I was. We could compare notes, calm each other if minor unexpected events occurred, and share our joys and complaints together. You can find many of these support groups by visiting a site like Yahoo Groups and searching for the month your baby is expected to arrive or by joining message boards.
  • Research the supplies and equipment you will need to acquire It's a good idea to spend your first trimester just window shopping, comparing prices, and checking reviews of products. At this stage, you may be so excited that you spend money on all the wrong things, so don't buy anything just yet. Of course, you can always accept free stuff and gifts.
  • Start a pregnancy journal or scrapbook This is the perfect beginning to a great baby book. You can start a pregnancy journal or scrapbook and expand it into a baby book for your child later on. You can use just a regular notepad to get you started or even just typing something up in a word processor can help you record your thoughts and important dates and information that you will add to your final perfected product. I highly recommend creating a scrapbook from scratch and avoiding those pre-organized, "put the picture where we tell you" packages, and things that you print out from websites is just tacky. Hit your local scrapbooking store or check out a few online to buy some basic supplies instead. Then look at scrapbooking websites for ideas.
  • Start bonding with your baby The easiest thing to do is just talk to your baby. Sure, at this stage the little one can't hear you, but it's still a beneficial experience for you. Also, you might want to start thinking about names. It makes your baby seem more real when you can call him or her by a first name rather than just "baby".
  • Start shopping for pregnancy items Start looking for good deals and buying everything from pillows to baggy clothes. Wait until you're a little bigger to buy maternity clothes. Stick with just baggy clothes at first; you'll be wearing them after the pregnancy too. Back and foot massagers are also good investments.
  • Start exercising Get a good video on exercises for pregnancy. My favorite ones are yoga. Exercise will help you relax, build up your strength and energy, and make the long haul ahead go a bit smoother. Of course, you won't always feel like exercising, so just do as much as you can.
  • Inform your employer You don't have to set up maternity leave right away, but let your employer know what's going on. They really appreciate it. You may even want to request different duties if your job requires you to deal with hazardous materials, heavy lifting, etc.

Second Trimester

  • Start shopping for baby's supplies Okay, now you can start purchasing all of those baby supplies. Get started because you have a huge shopping list.
  • Make a resource list You might not need it at all, but if you do, you'll be grateful that you put this list together well ahead of time.
  • Plan out the big event Decide now how you will get to the hospital and actually drive the route several times so you won't get lost when you REALLY need to get there. Also, figure out how you will get in touch with your partner (e.g. pager, cell phone, etc.), who will take care of your children, etc. It's a good idea to have this figured out now because babies have been known to come incredibly early (even as early as 24 weeks).
  • Create your birth announcement list Now is the time that you'll want to figure out who should get a birth announcement along with their address, how many you'll need, which ones you want, what you want them to say, etc. Between now and the birth of your baby, you'll keep adding names and changing designs, but starting it now will save you a lot of time and energy later on.
  • Get your professional act together If you work, you need to tie up all the loose ends by making sure your replacement knows what she / he is doing, scheduling your maternity leave, etc.
  • Pre-Register at the hospital This will save you a headache from paperwork later on when you're trying to enjoy your new baby or are dealing with the pains of labor.

Third Trimester

  • Pack your hospital bag Babies can come at any time now, even when they're not supposed to, so get that hospital bag ready, and place it in a location where you can grab it quickly if necessary.
  • Get your home ready You will not feel like cleaning, organizing, cooking, or anything else during the first month after your baby is born. The first month is the hardest because it involves so much adjustment, not to mentions that your hormones are out of wack, so get all of your chores done now. Pay your bills, run your errands, get everything done ahead of time.
  • Rest! You're about to go through the most exhausting experience of your life. Try to get as much rest and relaxation as possible. You'll need it.