This checklist of important things to do before your new baby arrives will give you THE things a nurse thinks you need to do before hospital, delivery & the baby comes. It’s a great way to make sure you’re prepared.
Hi, I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I’ve had three kids of my own, plus seen THOUSANDS (literally) of moms in labor and what they did/wished they had done before baby came.
I’m also the creator of The Organized Home — so I really get organization too. Organization and pregnancy are kind of my “things” 🙂
Keep in mind that my hospital checklist might be different from other people’s because I am also thinking on the hospital end. I may not include as many purchases or items of that nature.
If you’d like a little ear candy, I actually talk all about this in Episode 5: Preparing for Baby on my Podcast: Pregnancy & Parenting Untangled. I have one of my good friends on and we talk about all the best in baby prep — you can listen right here — this one’s GREAT for first time moms!
Things to Do Before Going to Hospital for Delivery
Even though it may seem like you have so much to do RIGHT NOW, I am going to split this checklist into things to do early, later, and right before. I think it will help take the overwhelm out!
Things to do well ahead of baby Delivery
1. Call Your Health Insurance or your HR soon after you know you’re pregnant
You’ll want to know your co-pay, because as annoying as it is to fill out paperwork as your cervix is dilating, it’s even more painful to hear your copayment is 1,000 bucks when you thought it was free.
BTW, when it doubt — call directly to your insurance company, they will for sure have the most up-to-date info. 🙂 I actually recommend doing this in your first trimester, and then as you head into 30 weeks (in case things chabnged)
Make sure you do this early, because if you have something like high blood pressure, you may have an unexpected early hospital admission. You never know how much time you have, or if you could have a premature birth. If you don’t end up having a healthy baby, the more knowledge you have of the financial cost, the better off you’ll be.
No shame on making sure your life insurance is up to date (and a good amount) while you’re talking to HR or reviewing your policies.
Pro Tip: Make sure that insurance card stays in your wallet during your whole pregnancy, you never know when you might need it (and while the hospital will still care for you, it’s just a lot easier if you have it on you).
2. Pre-register at the hospital before baby arrives
Although the law states that we can’t badger you about payment info while you’re in the heat of labor. That doesn’t mean we can’t bother your partner, and I’m talking for payment. This isn’t free folks — and pre-registering takes a least SOME of that headache away. I recommend it.
The hospital may help with some of yuor pre-admission insurance stuff too — so it can save you time overall.
3. Make and KEEP your prenatal appointments.
Hopefully you’ve picked a doctor. That’s SO important, but once you have picked a provider… Get your appointments.
I hope it goes without saying that you should also be keeping ALL of your prenatal appointments, and taking your folic acid. I know those early appointments can feel like a waste, but they are important as your provider gets to know it.
Bonus points if you check with your parents about your family history of medical conditions or pregnancy issues too. 🙂
Pro Tip: Don’t love your provider? Keep going to them while you look for a new one. If you’re past 30 weeks it can be difficult to change — so, change early if possible. All of your records can transfer to a new provider.
4. Do your disability paperwork to prepare for your baby
It’s a doozy. At least it was in California. Worth it though. I do love staying home with my little dears. You don’t want to do it after, if you can help it!
Usually (depending on your state) you can’t finish it ENTIRELY until the baby is out. But, do as much as you can NOW! 🙂
Things to do Early in Your Third Trimester
I recommend once you’re around 25 weeks you start getting into this stuff:
5. Take a prenatal class before having a baby
Did you know that people who take a birth class are 10% less likely to have a c-section (learn about that more here in my birth statistics post)? The important things you learn in a class like….
- Movement during labor
- Communicating well with your healthcare team
- Knowing what’s going to come up and what’s normal (even if it doesn’t seem normal) can give you a HUGE step up into feeling confident about your birth.
I recommend The Online Prenatal Class for Couples.
This is perfect for you if:
- You don’t have enough time to fit in a traditional class — it takes less than 3 hours and is split into bit-sized bits.
- You’re worried about any aspect of the delivery, from pain, episiotomies to IV’s — this course covers it all
- You’re worried your anxiety is going to make your birth less special
If you’re ready to REALLY get prepared — Hilary can be your best friend. Code PC10 will get you 10% off the course!
Pro Tip: If you’d prefer to try an in person class, some places to consider looking for a class include: Doulas, birth centers, or local hospitals — but if an online one works for you, The Online Prenatal class for Couples gets AMAZING reviews.
When you should take a prenatal class?
The short answer — around 20-25 weeks, for the long answer — I have a whole post on when to take a prenatal or breastfeeding class. I also have a review of some of my favorite breastfeeding classes by some of my favorite lactation consultants.
6. Pack your bag before baby arrives
See this post (and podcast) on what to put in your hospital bag. It lays it all out black and white. Exactly what I’ve seen delivering mammas want at the hospital.
I can send a hospital bag checklist right to your inbox also:
In case you’re in desperate need of the big 3:
- my favorite lip balm,
- hair ties
- cell charger for use in the hospital. 🙂
Pro Tip: A lot of women bring pre-pregnancy clothes to wear home, but you’ll want comfortable clothes that fit at about 6 mo pregnant (it takes your uterus a while to shrink back down).
Second Pro Tip: Make sure you bring a supportive bra (bonus points for a nursing bra) your boobs will thank you.
7. Have a date night before baby
Sure, you feel as ugly as you’ve felt since Jr high but this is a good time to bond with your spouse. If you think you look ugly now, imagine how great will be when you haven’t slept for weeks and your nipples are cracked!
But, I digress. Have a date night. Have several. Remember, a happy marriage is a happy family. If you’re not married, think about when you’ll tie the knot. Dream.
While on that date, it’s a good idea to talk about your future plans, and possibly even boundaries for family members that you’d like to keep. This class has a whole bunch of questions you can talk about together that couples just love. And if it’s not your first child, talk about your child care options.
8. Write about your baby before they come
Write about your hopes and dreams as a mom — your baby bucket list. Sure, they’ll be mushy and gooey, and a lot of those dreams may end up feeling a little silly, but you’ll want to remember those times when you thought motherhood would be magical.
The good news is that motherhood truly is magical. You just have to search for it and treasure each bit of the magic. Just like pregnancy. I think this Kate Spade journal just screams to have awesome pregnancy dreams written in it! This Belly Book looks SO fun — honestly, these are the times you’ll want to remember. Check them out! Don’t forget to get a baby’s 1st year book too!
Having baby book is something that you will truly treasure.
9. Consider a birth plan before going to the hospital for baby
Now, I’m not a huge fan of large, explicit birth plans. BUT, I think considering what you’d prefer in labor can be pretty smart! You can even find out what labor nurse thinks of birthing plans.
I have a whole post about creating a birth plans and how they can affect delivery outcomes. You can also get my birth plan worksheet right here (it comes as part of my free beginning prenatal class).
That will be so handy as you prepare for the birth of your baby.
Pro Tip: Make SURE you discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider EARLY just to get the communication started about your birth! Same goes for when you meet your delivery nurse — share it early1
Things to do right before going to the hospital for delivery
These “last minute” things are not ones to forget! You can even do them after your water breaks (or on the way to the hospital).
10. Drink water before going to the hospital
Drink water like you are watering your lawn in the heat of summer. Unless you’re having a c-section I REALLY want my patients well hydrated before they come in (I also have a whole post on what’s safest to drink — including gatorade).
I don’t care if you pee six times, but if your veins are tiny and sad we may not be friends for long. Labor nurses are good IV starters, but you need to do your part by gulpin’ down the fluids (water is best, and we don’t want to smell alcohol on your breath…;)
If water isn’t your favorite, try an infusion water bottle to keep it naturally tasty. 🙂
Plus, water can keep you from having false labor — so it’s a huge benefit to YOU too! It really is one of the BEST ways to have a healthy pregnancy.
11. Eat before going to the hospital
I have heard some healthcare providers say NOT to eat before you get an induction. I’m not sure what their concern is, as most doctors will tell you to EAT beforehand. We don’t feed you. Inductions are long, and you will want to eat in advance.
Note: Planned C-section patients are not to eat a certain period before the surgery, ask your MD.
Things to Have Before Baby
12. Get your baby & postpartum supplies before baby is born
There are a few things you’ll want on hand for AFTER the baby. Seems like moms always save this for the LAST thing. You really won’t want to go shoping for these once you bring baby home (so having them on hand is important!).
I have created a postpartum kit JUST for new moms with Dollar Maxi Pad Club!
It comes with lots of the things you’ll need. But, be sure to have these things on hand:
- Pads (I recommend starting with these, and progressing to these)
- Many ladies love these undies!
- Wipes/spray bottle (although I recommend this instead of wipes — read more about it and find a Tushy Coupon here)
- Bum Spray (it will make more sense after the baby, but SO many moms swear by this one)
You can read all about in my post on postpartum supplies, or grab the list right here:
13. Shopping Date for BABY!!!!
There’s plenty for new parents to buy for the little one, but CERTAINLY not what the baby stores would make you think. I have my very own post about the actual necessities to having a baby — including a car seat! There really are very few necessities.
Don’t forget to register so your friends and family don’t end up getting you something you don’t want (or 12 of them) — especially if it is your first baby.
Don’t forget about making a registry so friends and family can help out (registering on Amazon is SO convenient — for everyone!) — don’t miss my list of things to sign up before you have your baby. This is extra great if you’re having a baby shower (so people don’t double-purchase)
AND Don’t forget to use Ebates (now it’s Rakuten) to save EVEN MORE on your online shopping!
Here are the things I think you REALLY need before baby:
- Car Seat — honestly if this is the only thing you do from this list, the car seat is probably the priority since you can’t go home without it.
- Breast pump (if planning on breastfeeding, most insurances cover at least part of this)
- A bottle or two (just in case)
- A couple of blankets
- Baby Clothes — probably just few sleepers (I recommend zippers over snaps — zippers are good stuff)
- A place for baby to sleep (does NOT need to be a full crib in the beginning — a hand-me-down bassinette is perfect).
Of course, if you have older children, you likely already have a lot of this — horray!
Other things you might want to consider as your due date approaches (but not super important):
- Consider what birth control you’ll use after baby
- Talk to your partner about what you’ll do about middle of the night feelings.
- Think about birth annoucements, and what your plan is there.
- See if your partner has a CLUE how to do diaper changes.
- Get some easy meals together.
- Wash baby’s clothes in a safe laundry detergent
- Limit caffeine — if you’re anxious, too much caffeine isn’t going to help
- Want to set up a savings account for this new life? Think about it — maybe talk with your financial planner.
What you don’t need to do before baby:
** You’ll notice I didn’t say “primp” — unless you haven’t showered in days we’ve seen it all and most times we don’t care (I have a post on shaving during pregnancy) Sure, a quick shower is probably thoughtful for everyone, but I want you to be comfortable. As long as you feel good about how you look, I’m fine with it too. 🙂
I know a lot of ladies wonder if they need to shave before delivery… << I answer it all in that post!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing things to pamper yourself like prenatal massage (pure bliss) but it’s not a NECESSSITY by any points. And this is also a great time to get some sleep, because sleep deprivation after baby is a real thing.
And, make SURE that you’re truly prepared by taking a prenatal class. You won’t regret it, in fact The Online Prenatal Class for Couples has a money-back guarantee that if you don’t love it, you can just ask for your money back!
Originally done in March 2014, this post has been updated.
A pin is a sharp metal stick. A pen is a writing utensil. We learn this difference in 1st grade.
You’re mean and have too much time on your hands. Take a deeeeeep breath, namaste. Nobody’s perfect. This is a fun online article not a PhD thesis.
This is basic basic english though. I feel like if you’re going to write stuff like this, basic englesh is essential, no?
I prefer basic kindness over English. Could just be me though.
Your post seems to indicate that all women need to be induced or have an Iv to give birth. Why add to the fear that so many women have about labor and birth and instead write to empower women in the labor and birth process? This makes it seem like women should be doing everything in their power, while pregnant and laboring, to make the hospital staff’s job easier when I strongly believe it has to be the other way around. After all, the women are paying the hospital for the service.
Hilary Erickson says
Nope, I don’t believe that at all…. maybe you meant another post, as this post has zero to do with in-hospital stuff. I think having an IV increases your safety factor if something goes wrong. That is all. I’m all about safety. Figuring out how to comply with mom’s wishes AND be safe. That’s my job. And frankly, I do it amazingly well! 🙂
“6. Eat I have heard some doctors say NOT to eat before you get an induction. I’m not sure what their concern is, as most doctors will tell you to EAT beforehand. We don’t feed you. Inductions are long, and you will want to eat in advance.”
This definitely implies that all women have to be induced and the one before about being hydrated implies that all women need an IV. I’m sure you do your job very well – I have a high respect for nurses as my mom and aunt are in the profession, but I really think that the messaging put out to pregnant women needs to be more empowering and that labor and pregnancy are viewed by many hospital staff as “medical issues” that have to be intervened upon. This is NOT what labor and birth are in most cases, but I guess maybe women have to seek information outside of the medical profession for childbirth to be treated and talked about as the completely natural process it is.
Hilary Erickson says
Well, Usually — if you into labor on your own you won’t really feel like eating. This is referencing an induction — many of which are a choice by the mother. We can keep pretending that it’s us that are making all these women want to get induced, but the vast majority are the mother’s choice. I’m a labor nurse in a hospital. I speak to how things happen at the hospital. I think that is pretty clear.
Well, what I’m speaking to is that maybe hospital staff need to give women information that normalizes natural birth and labor instead of normalizing things like induction which have been proven to cause more problems for women and babies than they solve. Maybe your post should also be written for women who wish to go into labor naturally and still deliver in a hospital? It seems like my argument is pretty simple and I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. I think it’s high time hospitals and their staff change their language and processes with women when it comes to labor and birth – and I hope when I go into labor in a couple months I have hospital staff that is on the same page as me and not trying to shove medical intervention down my throat if it’s unnecessary.
Hilary Erickson says
not offended, and I do wish doctors would do more of that. I 100% am never shoving medical intervention, that’s up to the patient and the doctor.
This was seriously soooo helpful!! I’m the type of person that likes to just read and read about a certain topic, and being 37 weeks pregnant I’m constantly reading about labor! Even though this is not my first rodeo. Thank you for this!
Hilary Erickson says
Haha, seems to be what you do when you’re pregnant!
Angie - WhippedGreenGirl says
Appreciate getting some much new insight from a professional! I am drilling down, only 4 weeks to go before I am due and I really need to do my research LOL. I’ve been able to get most of it answered on here ? THANKS Hilary!!! Getting first hand advice from someone who lives this is amazing!
Hilary Erickson says
Be sure to check out my newsletter and my full class. Tons of great info to make easy research!
Franciska Orr says
The water issue is huge! When I had both of my children I was not allowed to drink anything while in labor. I was so thirsty! They don’t give you water in case they have to bring you into surgery so yes grab a water bottle and chug it before you walk into that hospital!
Hilary Erickson says
Huh, I let my patients drink water unless it looks likely they’re going to have a C-section, but every hospital is different. 🙂