Congratulations, you’re expecting! Whether you’re a soon-to-be first time parent or already have a little one(s), it always helps to have a checklist. No matter how intentional or how much you planned on getting pregnant, the to-do list can still be overwhelming once the exhilarating news has settled. Personally, we were overwhelmed.
My own emotions peaked when I discovered I was expecting twins at week 7. One of the first things I did to try to quell my anxiety was to dive into the audiobook of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” While insightful, I still felt the need to learn and do more. Initial conversations with fellow moms and raised more questions:
- Which baby gear should I purchase, and when should I start buying?
- When is the best time to plan a baby shower and announce my pregnancy?
- When should I create a will or consider a college fund (529 accounts)?
- Should I contact daycare centers now? How far in advance are they booked?
- Which baby classes should I take, and how soon should I enroll?
To help manage the avalanche of tasks ahead, I found solace in creating a simple checklist. Given that pregnancy lasts 9 months, I’ve put together a month-to-month guide to keep you on track and make the journey smoother.
If you want copy of the tracker, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first trimester of pregnancy can be quite a mixed bag. For some fortunate moms-to-be, it sails by like a breeze. Yet, for others, it can be quite challenging as the body works overtime to ensure everything unfolds smoothly. This is a period often marked by morning sickness, fatigue, and mood swings. And if you’re an A-type personality, the inclination to stay on top of things, be it in anticipation of the new family member or managing that extra project at work, can be strong. But it’s crucial to remember to extend some grace to yourself. After all, you’re nurturing an entire human being, and that in itself is remarkably productive!
What makes this period truly astonishing is the fact that your body is creating a whole new organ – the placenta! And for those carrying multiples, like I did, your body needs to create even more placentas. This additional work and energy expenditure explains why it’s absolutely normal to feel exhausted during the first trimester. I can recall the sensation of being hit by a bus, but in reality, it was merely my body laboring diligently to produce these brand new organs. So, if you find yourself feeling wiped out, it’s vital to remember that you’re doing some seriously impressive work! Make sure to carve out time for rest and self-care – you’re doing an amazing job, mama!
I took the early months of my pregnancy easy and focused on the essentials and light tasks. Here’s a glimpse into the most critical items on my list:
- Selecting the right provider: The foremost task was to seek a healthcare provider who resonated with my preferences and values. We compared providers on Yelp, US Health New reviews, healthcare institutions website (they have reviews of physicians) and forums. Choose and book your desired prenatal care provider and attend your first prenatal appointment. Discuss prenatal care, testing options and any other of your individual concerns. A shared Google Keep note became a handy tool for jotting down all the questions we wanted to address during our prenatal appointments.
- Start taking prenatal vitamins. Begin a prenatal vitamin regimen containing folic acid, iron, and other essential nutrients. This was our choice of prenatal vitamins. It’s important to note that while gummy vitamins may be fun way to consume your daily prenatal, not all contain an adequate amount of folic acid, so do scrutinize how many micrograms of folic acid they contain. At the same time, discontinue any herbal supplements or medications not approved by your health care provider.
- Learn about pregnancy nutrition: Familiarize yourself with a healthy pregnancy diet and avoid risky foods. There are many articles on this topic or through your chosen pregnancy book.
- Build your support system: decide when to announce your pregnancy with your partner. Most couples decide to delay announcement til the end of the 12th week or when a heartbeat can be detected at the doctor’s due to risk of miscarriage. Remember there is no right time to announce your pregnancy because it is a personal decision. For us, we shared news earlier to family and with close friends between 10-14 weeks. One benefit of sharing your pregnancy earlier is that you start to build your support system. I received so much welcome advice on what to buy, how to think about childcare and simply acknowledgement of how hard pregnancy can be.
The Bonus Task:
- Skin care considerations: Use sunscreen on your face, as sunshine can make estrogen-related discolored patches on the face, called chloasma, worse. At the same time, discontinue any skin care treatments that might be harmful to your pregnancy like Retinol. I went through my skincare products and pared down on my skincare routine. I can’t say if I’ll go back to my 7-step daily skin-care routine after pregnancy, but I do enjoy this period of skincare minimalism and didn’t feel my skin deteriorated in any way (I might even have that pregnancy glow?).
- Communicating your pregnancy at work: I communicated my pregnancy to my supervisor in this month in order to manage expectations and plan yearly OKRs. An early communication aided in setting clear expectations and planning my yearly OKRs. Understanding the maternity leave policy was also pivotal.
- Embarking on a light exercise routine: Consult your healthcare provider before deciding on the type and intensity of your exercises.
- Comfortable clothing upgrades: Buy larger cotton bras and underwear. You might have noticed your breasts getting larger already!
Oh, how I adore the second trimester! If the first trimester felt like you were strapped to a rollercoaster you never asked to get on, the second one can feel like soaring like a superwoman. This stage in pregnancy is often referred to as the Golden Period or the Golden 100, and for good reasons. It’s a time when morning sickness generally eases, and you’re energized and ready to take on the world.
In this trimester, harness that superwoman energy, mamas, because there’s plenty to do! In 1st trimester I was just trying to survive and google pregnancy symptoms, while in 2nd trimester I was researching, planning and executing. I dove into baby books, researched baby gears, planned my baby shower and maximized on date nights and social events with friends. This is the time to get things done. This is the time to make things happen, and trust me, getting ahead early will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed when the third-trimester fatigue sets in.
- Schedule prenatal tests: Your OB should guide you, but stay aware and discuss the necessary prenatal tests with your healthcare provider. These tests are crucial for both mama and baby and include maternal blood screening, detailed ultrasound, and glucose screening.
- Begin researching baby gear: Start researching essential baby items such as car seats, strollers, and cribs. We found YouTube reviews and mom blogs incredibly helpful.
- Create a baby buy list: Planning early is invaluable. As we researched baby gear, we added items to a spreadsheet and created a budget to avoid overspending. It’s amazing how much you can save with hand-me-downs, marketplace deals, and sales!
- Create a baby registry: Help your loved ones choose gifts by creating a registry.
- Find a pediatrician: Start researching, interviewing, and deciding on a pediatrician.
- Research childbirth classes: Sign up for childbirth classes where you’ll learn about labor, delivery, and newborn care. Ideally, attend these 1-2 months before your due date to keep the knowledge fresh.
The Bonus Tasks
- Plan your baby shower: Usually showers are held between 4-6 weeks before your due date. We held ours earlier due to the uncertainty (and the eventual immobility) from having twins. But it doesn’t hurt to start creating your invite list and planning early.
- Plan your babymoon: Vacations are going to look a lot different after the baby comes, so if you want, book a nice relaxing getaway for you and your partner (or outsource this task to your partner).
- Start preparing the nursery: Choose a theme, paint color, and furniture for your baby’s nursery.
- Research and interview doula or postpartum nannies, if desired: Postpartum care can be quite expensive. My partner and I had to discuss and agree early on what type and how much postpartum care we needed.
- Research childcare options: Begin researching daycare centers, nanny and au pair services if needed. Some daycares need to be booked 6-12 months ahead.
- Think about estate planning: It’s not the most pleasant thought, but planning for your baby’s future in the event of a tragedy can bring peace of mind.
During the third trimester, your baby’s movements become more noticeable and frequent, offering some of the most enjoyable moments of pregnancy. Yet this trimester may also bring back the fatigue from the first trimester, now paired with new and unfamiliar symptoms like backaches, shortness of breath, Braxton Hicks contractions, and round ligament pain. Show yourself some kindness and treat this trimester as a self-care and self-indulgence period. Attend the baby shower or babymoon you planned, savor a prenatal massage, and with thoughtful planning, complete the crucial tasks on your to-do list.
- Install the car seat: Purchase an infant car seat and ensure its secure installation in your vehicle.
- Attend parenting and birth classes: Take classes covering breastfeeding techniques, newborn care, and infant CPR to boost your confidence as an incoming parent.
- Pack your hospital bag: Assemble a bag with the necessities for both you and your baby.
- Pre-register at your chosen birthplace: Complete the necessary paperwork at your birthing center or hospital, ensuring a smoother check-in process when delivery time arrives.
- Perfect your nursery: Ensure your nursery is ready, organized, and equipped with essentials like diapers, wipes, and clothing. Remember to wash the baby clothes and sanitize the baby bottles.
- Review your birth plan: Discuss your birth plan with your partner and healthcare provider, ensuring everyone involved understands your preferences.
- Confirm your transportation plan: Establish your route to the hospital or birthing center, including a contingency plan for unexpected situations.
- Secure your pediatrician, lactation consultant, and/or doula.
- Schedule maternity leave: If you’re working, initiate a discussion about maternity leave with your employer and start completing any necessary forms.
- Take a tour of your birthing facility: Get familiar with the hospital or birthing center where you intend to deliver.
- Prepare freezer meals: Create and freeze meals in advance, so you’ll have easy, nutritious options during the first few postpartum weeks.
- Set up a support network: Coordinate with friends and family to ensure you have a supportive network after your baby’s arrival, offering assistance with household tasks, meals, and baby care.
- Indulge in self-care: Prioritize self-nourishing activities, whether it’s a prenatal massage, relaxing baths, or quality time with your partner and loved ones.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Get comfortable with relaxation methods like deep breathing exercises, visualization, or meditation, to aid you during labor and delivery.
- Test and get familiar with your breast pump.
- Create an emergency contact list: Include relatives, neighbors, and your pediatrician.
Navigating the beautiful journey of pregnancy, you’ve made it through the various trimesters, tackled the challenges, celebrated the milestones, and prepared for the arrival of your little one. The ride might not always be smooth, but the destination is incredibly rewarding. Each passing day brings you closer to meeting your baby, and that moment will be magical. As you prepare for this new chapter, remember, it’s okay to pause, breathe, and take a moment for yourself. It’s about creating a harmonious balance between your needs and preparing for your baby’s arrival. Always be gentle with yourself and never hesitate to lean on your support system. Here’s to you and your incredible journey, beautiful mama!