Published on 21 January, 2020 and Updated on 10 June, 2020
The pregnancy journey is one filled with delightful developments, memorable moments, and of course, unforeseen obstacles and uncertainties. However, since we’re in the Information Age, the next nine months don’t have to come as a complete shock.
That’s why we created this pregnancy to-do list—a trimester-by-trimester pregnancy checklist that includes everything from what to do about heartburn to taking a gender prediction test to find out baby gender.
Let’s dive in!
Congratulations: First Trimester
The first three months will be full of excitement, nervousness, and an overall feeling of what the heck am I supposed to do!
Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is completely normal.
One peculiarity about the pregnancy timeline is that, in general, women don’t know they’re pregnant for the first four weeks. However, many women begin to adopt quite a few lifestyle adjustments in preparation for this monumental event, including:
- Taking prenatal vitamins – Growing babies need specific nutrients for optimal health like folic acid, which helps prevent some significant congenital disabilities.
- Quitting smoking – Kicking smoking to the curb helps your baby get more oxygen, develop healthy lungs, and have a lower chance of being born underweight.
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol intake – While a series of studies conducted in Denmark showed no neuropsychological harm to the children of mothers who engaged in low to moderate alcohol consumption, the authors of the studies do not encourage the practice. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists firmly maintains its stance that drinking during pregnancy increases the likelihood of complications. The debate for this topic remains ongoing…
- Adjusting diets – According to your doctor’s recommendations, you might need to modify your daily menu to appease your growing guest.
- Drinking eight to ten glasses of water – Water will help keep your blood hydrated and reduce the risk of cramps, circulation issues, and uncomfortable urinary tract infections.
- Limiting caffeine intake – Any amount less than 200 mg, about two cups of coffee, a day is a safe range of consumption that won’t raise the risk of miscarriage.
- Checking with your provider about your medications – Now that you’re eating for two, you’re also taking medication for two. Your physician will be able to tell you whether your current medications are safe to continue.
If this is your first pregnancy, check out our pregnancy tips for first-time moms.
A day or two after your period typically arrives, you can finally consult some at-home pregnancy tests. Week 4 is around the time when most tests claim accuracy. Some even claim to be able to detect pregnancy up to 6 days before your missed period!
However, results increase in accuracy the more days you wait after your missed period because pregnancy tests measure human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is a hormone that doubles every two to three days after egg implantation, which means low levels during early testing could cause false negatives. You can confirm an initial negative result by retaking the pregnancy test a few days later.
Schedule an Appointment
Once you’re sure you’re pregnant (or want to double-check), prenatal visits are a must. Schedule an appointment with an OBGYN or prenatal care specialist for your first prenatal check-up.
Here are some pointers that will help you select the specialist for you:
- Reviewing your insurance policy – It’s a good idea to look into what benefits you have and what procedures you might be responsible for before the bill comes. You can also discover what hospitals are in-network and, thus, might be cheaper.
- Considering your medical history – If you have pre-existing conditions or have had pregnancy complications before, then you may need higher care than can be provided in-network. Some insurance companies may even authorize outside care because it may save them money in the long run.
- Picking a hospital – Depending on what’s in-network, you can make your selection based on the level of NICU care provided, prenatal classes offered, or the amount of support included postpartum.
- Researching your prospective doctor – Checking out online reviews, consulting your network for their experiences, or continuing the old-fashioned way of calling practices yourself can help inform your decision about healthcare providers.
- Trusting yourself – If you don’t feel comfortable with your pick, you should trust your gut. There is nothing wrong with changing physicians, nor is there an obligation to settle.
While first appointments are usually scheduled around 6-8 weeks, in the meantime, you can prepare with your partner by creating a family chart to clarify medical histories and jotting down the date of your last period.
Interested in a SneakPeek?
It may be a shot in the dark, but someone interested in a pregnancy checklist might also be interested in discovering the gender of their future president. Is that your hand I see raising?
Don’t suffer any more aunts telling you that the position of your stomach signifies a boy or girl. And certainly, don’t attempt any more urine and boiled cabbage tests… Please.
Instead, consider taking a clinically-proven gender blood test at home. With SneakPeek, you can put the rumors to rest as early as eight weeks into a pregnancy, and within days after placing an order. Just:
- Order the kit online.
- Follow the instructions to collect your blood sample at home and send it back in a prepaid package.
- Receive your emailed results!
It’s that simple.
Doctor visits are going to be a common occurrence. Make sure to:
- Start your childbirth plan – Determine the optimal birthing method and location for you. Before you make arrangements, start with some research. In a childbirth plan, you can specify:
- The atmosphere of the room: music, whether you want a video camera, who you want in the room
- Labor requests: your position, birthing tools, pain relief
- Post-delivery instruction: who cuts the umbilical cord and what to do with the placenta
- Get to the dentist – Pregnant women are more susceptible to gingivitis and inflamed gums, so stay on top of your oral health.
Let’s Talk Numbers
If you haven’t before, now is the time to consider the financial aspect of raising another human being. Anyone who has glanced at a price tag on a pair of cute, tiny infant booties knows that this won’t be a cheap endeavor.
Start with the following tips:
- List everything you will need and build a baby budget.
- Look into your insurance policy to see what is covered and where you can find assistance if needed.
- Check your maternity leave protocol at work to guarantee a smooth transition.
Start Picking Up Steam: Second Trimester
Three months in and you most likely have surpassed the most despised obstacle—morning sickness. The golden trimester is here, and with it, things are going to start moving quickly.
A very special period of time: your baby bump should start to show anytime now. Hormones and heartburn might be close companions of yours, but that adorable bump is a good sympathy prize.
For some early second trimester suggestions:
- If you’re having trouble sleeping, try investing in a body pillow or dozing off in a recliner to ease the discomfort of sleeping with a bump. With a persistent problem, you may want to ask your doctor for safe sleep aids.
- Want to listen to your baby’s heartbeat? Consider a fetal doppler to hear your baby’s heartbeat, hiccups, movements, and more.
- If heartburn is killing you, try eating smaller meals and stock up on the Tums to ward off any discomfort.
- Time to start considering some baby names. Yay! Picking a name is so exciting. Or rather, narrowing down a name from your list of one hundred names is so exciting.
- Start on a healthy skincare routine. As your belly expands, it’s essential to moisturize and help your skin as much as possible. Using pregnancy oils on changing body parts can help prevent or reduce stretch marks.
- Continue to take care of yourself and your relationship with your partner. Life is only going to get more hectic from here. Make sure you have time planned for your health and the health of meaningful relationships.
- Keep exercising! Just because you may have to reduce the weights or slow down a little, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Women have run marathons weeks before their delivery date.
- Don’t forget to work out your pelvic floor muscles. Studies have proven that Kegel exercises effectively treat and prevent urinary incontinence during pregnancy, and its benefits may continue postpartum. They may even shorten your labor time, according to a study that recorded faster pushing times in a controlled group that employed pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy.
You’re approaching the halfway mark. During these four weeks, you may start to feel your baby kick and move around. Pregnancy gets a whole lot more real, and it can be a whole lot more intimidating. That’s why during this time it may be helpful to consider childbirth classes.
Childbirth classes help to prepare mothers (and their partners) both physically and mentally. They also help to connect expecting mothers with other mamas-to-be.
Exercise classes designed for expecting mothers, like prenatal yoga, is another helpful way to meet others who are experiencing the same thing as you.
As an additional resource, review our tips for getting ready for a baby.
With your mid-pregnancy ultrasound and doctor’s check-up completed, parenthood should be solidifying here. It’s the prime time to turn your dreams into reality and begin building or decorating the nursery.
Also, make use of your baby’s biggest fans and start lining up that baby registry!
Rounding the Corner: 2nd Trimester Checklist
As the second trimester comes to an end, consider these aspects to help you feel ready.
- Start researching breastfeeding and formula. It can be helpful when your baby arrives to have in-depth knowledge of both so you can be fully prepared.
- Check out all the hi-tech monitors there are to offer. Nowadays, there are baby monitors that stream video, or you can stick with just audio. With a quality monitor, you can hear your baby as soon as they wake up or keep an eye on them at all times.
- Explore childcare options. Do you and your partner plan on returning to work after your baby is born? Getting in touch with childcare options before giving birth could mean one less thing on your to-do list. And you’ll get ahead of the curve considering some daycare waitlists feel longer than Harvard’s.
The End (Beginning) in Sight: Third Trimester
Whether your inbox has been inundated by odd, unsolicited parenting advice beforehand or not, you are most definitely about to be. Get ready to read about how you should be walking to induce labor faster.
Is that true?
No, that has not been proven. So, untie your laces, Usain Bolt. You’re not about to force junior out before they’re ready.
When you’re showing, you’ll receive every piece of advice out there. Although well-meaning, not everything you hear will be accurate. So be careful who you listen to!
Sorry, the preparations don’t seem to end, but the early bird gets fewer breakdowns to juggle with the baby bird’s arrival. That’s the saying, right?
At 24 weeks, you’ve cleared a safe zone where babies born this early still have a survival rate between 60%-70%. With one less worry on your plate, you can handle other details, such as:
- Finalizing your birth plan.
- Starting to pack your hospital bag.
- Preparing pets and older siblings for the incoming housemate addition.
- Updating or drawing up a will, including details about guardianship and inheritance.
- Choosing a pediatrician.
Additionally, between weeks 26-28, you should have a gestational diabetes test performed and your blood count checked. From the results, you may need to readjust as deemed necessary. But, besides that, you should try to relax.
Most logistical minutiae should be handled at this point. Celebrate with your friends and family at your baby shower and be ready for all the hands rubbing your belly.
Besides relaxing and sleeping, you can start to meal prep and freeze food, so that you can have a secure stock for busy nights to come. Start to prepare all the most important baby gear. Wash your baby’s bedding, clothes, and stockpile baby goods because time’s almost up!
Fashion (and health) tip: Remove and store rings if your hands are starting to swell.
You’re in the home stretch! Save yourself stress:
- Pre-register at the hospital, so the check-in process will be streamlined when it’s time.
- Install the baby seat in your car, so there’s one less thing to worry about in the hospital.
- Arrange for child or pet care for your hospital stay.
- Know the signs of labor like the back of your hand.
You should be seeing your doctor weekly now and have a non-stress test and biophysical profile.
At this stage, feel free to focus on unwinding before the big day.
Until it’s time to time contractions, you should do what you enjoy before the hustle and bustle of afterbirth begins. Once the baby is here, say goodbye to quiet solitude.
Checking it Twice
You’ve found a list, and you will, undoubtedly, be checking it twice. Regardless of how much reassurance you receive, it can be difficult not to worry. Worrying is natural; pregnancy is a hectic journey, after all. But the arrival of your newborn will come with all-new terrains to traverse that will soon have you forgetting just how chaotic this moment is right now.
That’s a good thing, we promise. Just remember the happiness your little bundle of joy is about to bring into your life and the chaos will seem worth it.
Now that you’ve gained insight into the logistics of the nine-month-long journey, it’s time to learn more about all the things to do before baby arrives.
University of Utah. Health Outcomes For Preemies. https://healthcare.utah.edu/womenshealth/pregnancy-birth/preterm-birth/when-is-it-safe-to-deliver.php
UT Southwestern Medical Center. 4 Tips for Choosing an Ob/Gyn. https://utswmed.org/medblog/choosing-obgyn/
WebMD. Items to Include in Your Birth Plan. https://www.webmd.com/baby/items-to-include-in-birth-plan
Mayo Clinic. Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940
Moms Love Best. Month by Month: The Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist. https://momlovesbest.com/pregnancy-checklist
Mustela. The Complete Pregnancy Checklist: A Month-by-Month Guide. https://www.mustelausa.com/pregnancy-checklist
Parents. So Why All the Controversy Over Alcohol and Pregnancy? https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/is-it-safe/so-why-all-the-controversy-over-alcohol-and-pregnancy/
Smokefree.gov. Myths: Smoking and Pregnancy. https://women.smokefree.gov/pregnancy-motherhood/quitting-while-pregnant/myths-about-smoking-pregnancy
The Bump. How to Stay Hydrated During Pregnancy. https://www.thebump.com/a/staying-hydrated-during-pregnancy