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. and you can still get these essential things done!
Things to do well ahead of baby Delivery
These can be done any time between the time you find out until about 30 weeks (or whenever you start getting prepared — it’s often never too late to do these)….
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
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 your pre-admission insurance stuff too — so it can save you time overall. If your provider doesn’t know what you should do, you can always call labor and delivery.
If you’re wondering more about what to expect each step of the way as you get admitted to labor and delivery, we go through it all in here.
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! 🙂
And while we’re here, grab my organized before delivery that gives you some good tips:
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 birth class
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
- How to know if you’re in labor (it’s not just contractions).
- 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 so you can just shove in 20 minutes here and there to get done.
- You’d like a class that covers ALL of it (it can even include breastfeeding)
- You’d like to involve your partner in the process.
It really is the simple (and easy) way to get prepared for birth.
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.
**It’s really never too late to take a class as long as you’re not in rip-roaring labor. Getting prepared will have so many benefits, so don’t feel like if you’re past a certain point it’s just too late. It’s not!
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:
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. Take a Hospital Tour / Get Hospital-Prepped
Many hospital tours stopped during Covid although your hospital should have some information on the hospital stay, including:
- How they will feed you (and your partner)
- How big the rooms are, if you share any part of them with other patients
- Where to park
- Where to go if you think you’re in labor
- Where or if you’ll transfer after baby is born
If you’re not sure, call labor and delivery and they can tell you what your options to get educated are.
A tour can be a benefit of taking a prenatal class at the hospital. You just have to be prepared to spend more time at it (plus time parking, etc) — and it can be so hard to fit into your schedule. Most hospitals offer a hospital tour outside of a birth class, so I recommend taking your birth class on your own and then doing the hospital information separately.
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 have a whole pregnancy planner if you’re interested in recording more as you go through your pregnancy. It also comes for free in the Bump to Bassinet Bundle.
Having baby book is something that you will truly treasure.
9. Consider a birth plan
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.
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 early.
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.
If you’re like “ack” — false labor? Grab my labor checklist here:
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 shopping for these once you bring baby home (so having them on hand is important!).
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 or playpen is perfect).
Of course, if you have older children, you likely already have a lot of this — horray!
A few things to think about before delivery:
Here are a few other things you might want to consider as your due date approaches (but not as 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 (we talk a lot about questions like this in here).
- Think about birth announcements, and what your plan is there.
- See if your partner has a CLUE how to do diaper changes (newborn care class in here too).
- 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.
FAQ’s about preparation before having a baby:
This really depends on the person, so ask your provider if there’s anything you should be doing before baby is born. OR, things that would make you more comfortable.
I have a whole post on what to do the day before an induction that you might find helpful. There’s a few tips beyond what I share in this article.
Be sure to grab my hospital packing list and read that article about the 4 separate bags I recommend you take to the hospital.
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.