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Everything You Need to Thrive in the Third Trimester

third trimester checklist




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

Even though you’ve probably spent your entire pregnancy planning for your baby, focus on YOU during the third trimester. You’ll thank me later!

Up until now, your pregnancy journey has largely revolved around preparations for your baby. Chances are, you've been gradually gathering all the essential baby gear, ranging from basics like diapers, wipes, and onesies to more significant items like a car seat, crib, and stroller. But, as it turns out, newborns really don’t need that much.  

For an expectant mom, it's crucial to prioritize your own needs, especially during this final trimester—the home stretch before your baby arrives. The focus in the third trimester should be ensuring your comfort—physically, mentally, and emotionally—both now and in the postpartum period. Soon, there won't be much time for “me time.”

To get you ready for this new journey and to make sure you have the necessary supplies and support, I've compiled a comprehensive third trimester checklist. It covers everything you'll need to navigate the remaining stages of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Third trimester checklist

“What should I be doing in the third trimester?” – every new mom ever

I took out guesswork and compiled a list of to-do’s to guide you through the third trimester – a list I wish I had.

Buy (breast)feeding essentials

Breastfeeding can be challenging. It comes with a steep learning curve, requiring patience as both you and your baby figure things out together. While breastfeeding journey is unpredictable, you can take steps to optimize the experience and reduce stress. Here are eight items that may not have made it onto your registry list but are still essential (IMO!). Consider purchasing the following:

Milk collector

If you’re nursing, a milk collector like the Elvie Curve or Elvie Catch is a great way to catch extra milk that’s released from your non-feeding breast. This can help you save several ounces without having to pump. I didn’t do this after having Caden, and I regretted it. I used a milk collector after having Willow and it was a game changer! I was able to build a huge freezer supply without touching my breast pump! I recommend finding one that fits in your bra, like the Elvie Catch, instead of the popular Hakka breast collector which easily falls off (resulting in multiple crying sessions from spilled liquid gold!). If you’re looking for more suction or anticipate a large milk supply, choose the Elvie Curve.

Freezer bags

Whether you’re collecting milk via the Elvie Curve or pumping, freezer bags will come in handy when you’re ready to freeze your milk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that frozen milk can last up to 12 months in the freezer. While you don’t need a big freezer stash, it will give you peace of mind knowing you can leave the baby and won’t need to squeeze in an extra pump session. After consulting with my mom friends, the Lansinoh Breastmilk Bags are the most popular choice (and what I use too!).


After giving birth, postpartum underwear will be your best friend. While your hospital will likely supply mesh underwear, I highly recommend purchasing alternatives. My favorite is the All-In Panty: 5-Pack from Bodily, which has super comfortable, high-waisted panties with antimicrobial fabric. Nursing bras are also a must, especially during those first few months when you’re engorged and still getting the hang of breastfeeding. I absolutely love Bodily’s Everything Bra, the fabric is buttery soft!

Breast pump

Most insurance companies cover a portion of your breast pump, so it’s a good idea to look into coverage and make a purchase in your third trimester. Aeroflow is a great site to help you navigate insurance coverage and they’ll help you order your pump and some other helpful items like a prenatal belt support (to help with back and pelvic pain). I HIGHLY recommend spending a bit more money to get a pump with a rechargeable battery so that you won’t be tethered to the wall and can have more flexibility. I have both the Spectra S1 and Willow Go, and they’re worth the extra dollars. 

Feeding pillow

 In the early days, a feeding pillow will help you get your baby into an optimal position for breastfeeding. Once you get the swing of things, it will also be your secret to hands free nursing. The SnuggleMe Feeding Pillow is my preferred choice (I actually own two!) and it comes everywhere with me.

Nipple Cream

 You’ll want nipple cream for the first couple of weeks for your cracked and sore nipples. I like Motherlove’s formula, which feels more like a balm rather than a sticky cream.

Lactation Massager

A lactation massager comes in handy for those early days of engorgement. Plus, it’s great to keep on hand if you ever feel a clogged duct forming. I didn’t use a lactation massager with Caden, but I used one with Willow and the heat-vibration combo really releived my discomfort. I used Frida Mom’s 2-in-1 Lactation Massager.


That’s right! Buy formula ahead of time, even if you don’t plan on using it. Before having Caden, I was terrified of using formula and had no intention of using it. I ended up having a c-section and my milk took longer to come so I needed to supplement with formula. Then, two months postpartum, I faced additional health issues and my milk supply dropped. Formula was my lifesaver. 

Instead of adding stress to an already stressful situation, do you research ahead of time and purchase your preferred formula brand. With Caden,I opted for a European formula because they tend to have higher ingredient standards (no added sugars, no wheat or soy, no synthetic preservatives, stage based for optimal brain development). I purchased Hipp Dutch formula because it’s fortified with pre/probiotics and DHA. 

For Willow, two new US-based brands debuted: Bobbie and ByHeart (both disrupting the broken American formula industry!). I chose ByHeart and purchased it before Willow was born. I began supplementing with ByHeart when she was around 6 months old. When ByHeart shut down production to update operations, I switched to Bobbie formula and stuck with it while combo feeding and then ultimately committing to formula feeding her fully when she was 11 months. Besides Bobbie's dedication to safety and sourcing nutritious ingredients, I am a big supporter of their efforts to destigmatize formula feeding and their recent advocacy for federally supported paid parental leave.

Prepare your stations

Consider these stations as your “survival kits”—a collection of everything you need in one organized place. This way, you won’t have to frantically search through drawers or move from room to room to take care of yourself. I didn't assemble all of these during my first pregnancy, but they became a significant focus for me the second time around. They make a remarkable difference in comfort and ease when going home from the hospital. 

Bedroom station

  • Small night light to help with middle-of-the-night feedings or diaper changes. I LOVE this one – it’s small, soft, and dimmable. Plus you literally just need to flip it over to turn it on or off, no switches to fumble with. Completely worth it.
  • Burp cloths 
  • Extra set of crib sheets (to switch out if there are diaper blowouts or excessive spit up)
  • A sound machine 
  • Extra swaddles (I highly recommend the Ollie
  • Pacifiers 
  • For your bed, consider building an incline up the headboard of your bed with pillows or a wedge to mimic the hospital bed. For c-section mamas, this is particularly helpful because it makes it easier to get out of bed.
  • A tiered cart with wheels to roll around the bedroom and in between the bathroom.

Bathroom station

third trimester checklist
Postpartum bathroom station

Diaper-changing station

  • Wipeable changing pad like the Keekaroo Peanut
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers 
  • Wipe dispenser 
  • If you have a two-level house, consider setting up a second diaper-changing station to avoid climbing the stairs during recovery.

Living room station

third trimester checklist
Postpartum living room station

Kitchen station

Finish the nursery

A big part of this hustle is getting the baby nursery all set up. With the due date just around the corner, it’s a good idea to put the finishing touches on the nursery like setting up the crib, hanging up wall art, and making sure all the baby essentials are in order. 

TLC for you and your partner 

Don’t let this be an afterthought!

Celebrate with a baby shower

As the third trimester kicks in, it's the perfect time for a gathering of family and friends to celebrate the upcoming arrival of your baby. A baby shower is more than a party – it's a celebration filled with love, good wishes, and thoughtful gifts that will definitely come in handy. 

Take a birth class

Signing up for a birth class is a great idea. These classes aren't just about breathing exercises and baby stats – they're about demystifying the whole process and giving you the confidence to tackle it head-on. From labor positions to what to pack in your hospital bag, it's a wise investment and you’ll feel more ready and capable as you approach the big day. 

Schedule prenatal massages

If you had to choose only one gift to receive during the third trimester, choose a prenatal massage. Consider it your dedicated ‘me time,’ free from distractions, to-do lists, and the stresses associated with pregnancy and baby preparation. For safety, make sure you schedule your massage with a certified prenatal massage therapist who is knowledgeable about acupressure points that may induce labor.  

Go on date nights

Make it a priority now to schedule regular date nights, as they might not be as feasible during the first few months postpartum. Dedicate this time for quality moments together, enjoying laughter, intimacy and deep conversations about how life will change after you have a baby. Plan ahead for what may be a difficult time.

Take long baths

Need I say more? Just make sure that the water temperature is under 100 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent your body temperature from going any higher than 101. Grab some bath salts (my favorite) and turn on an oil diffuser (try Yoga and Tantra blends) to create that spa-like vibe. 

Take maternity photos

If possible, consider arranging professional maternity photos with your partner between the 32nd and 36th weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, I strongly recommend a DIY photoshoot at home around the 35th to 37th weeks of pregnancy. You don't need anything elaborate—just a bare wall, a cute outfit to highlight your bump, and an iPhone. You can also enlist your doula or labor nurse to take the photos.

Prepare your other child(ren) for the transition 

Buy gifts for big brother/sister

A great way to set the tone for adding a new member to the family is to buy a gift for the older sibling, to be gifted when the new child is born. I was given this advice before having Willow, and it was such a nice experience to put the attention back onto Caden when we brought her home from the hospital. Your older kiddo can also pick out a cute gift for the new baby. The idea is to make the older sibling feel special and loved. 

Plan a special day for your little one(s) 

Whether it’s a beach day, museum day, outing for ice cream, do something special to make your little one feel loved! My good friend wrote about this strategy in her article Advice for the Second-Time Mom on NMM.

Plan for your time at the hospital

My first birth they had to force me out of the hospital, my second, I couldn’t wait to get out.

Tour the hospital

Hospital tours are a chance to familiarize yourself with the birthing space, meet the maternity ward staff, and envision the place where your family will grow. 

Create a birth plan

A birth plan is like a blueprint for your labor and delivery journey. It’s a practical guide that outlines your preferences, from how you want to manage pain to the atmosphere you want in the delivery room. Creating a birth plan not only helps your medical team understand your wishes but also empowers you during this special moment in your life. It’s a process that encourages you to research and learn about your options, ensuring you’re well-prepared for different scenarios. Although having a plan is important, it’s also essential to stay flexible because birth is a dynamic process and unexpected things may happen.

Make a labor playlist

Make a calm and an upbeat playlist that you think you’ll enjoy listening to for motivation and encouragement during birth. Here’s my “calm” playlist that was constantly playing in the background, even after both babies were born!

Pack your hospital bag

Check out my hospital bag packing checklist to make sure you’re 100 percent prepared with everything you need.

Make a nurses gift basket

Thank the team that is caring for you! Coffee, nuts, candy, popcorn – it all will be appreciated.

third trimester checklist
Labor and delivery nurses gift

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed these last weeks of pregnancy. Remember to take the time to take care of yourself, clear your mind, and prioritize doing things that will make your life easier once your baby arrives.

third trimester checklist
third trimester checklist


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