Even the easiest pregnancies require preparation. Knowing what you need to do to prepare and stay healthy in advance can help reduce stress and ensure you don’t skip any essential steps. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out from scratch. This list will help you break everything down into simple month-by-month steps so you are as ready as you can be when your delivery date finally arrives.
What Is a Pregnancy Checklist?
A pregnancy checklist will help you take care of everything and keep you organized before and during your pregnancy. Between nausea, biological changes, and ‘pregnancy brain,’ it can be challenging for soon-to-be mothers to keep track of everything they need or should be doing to get ready for the baby. Below you’ll find a simple, comprehensive list.
Everything you need to prepare your body, stay as healthy as possible, and increase your chances of conceiving and carrying to term is here. You’ll find reminders for specific types of doctor’s appointments and other helpful information. All you have to do is check things off as you go. At the bottom, you’ll find some common questions and their answers to help.
The Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist (Month-By-Month)
This list will help pregnant women understand what to expect from their bodies and plan ahead. There are notes about when to start preparing to bring a baby home so you don’t get overwhelmed all at once. Additionally, you’ll find tips on when to plan an announcement and other milestones that aren’t part of your physical journey.
Start Three Months to a Year Before A Planned Pregnancy
The following items or actions can help you to get pregnant. Some women have more trouble conceiving than others. If you need fertility treatments or a sperm donor to have a child, it’s time to consider those options now.
- Save Money. Children are Expensive
- Cycle Tracker
- Ovulation Test Kit
- Exercise Regularly
- Consult a Physician and Take 400 MCG of Folic Acid Daily
- Get Pregnancy Guide Books and Parenting Books
- If You Smoke, Quit Now
First Trimester: Month 1
During the first month of pregnancy, most women don’t have many symptoms. It’s often too early for a test until the end of the month. However, the pregnancy is counted from the first week of a missed period. There’s not a lot to do this month.
- If you smoke and think you may be pregnant, quit now if you haven’t already.
- If you drink and do a lot of high-stress activities, this is also the right time to cut down and quit those things.
- Get into a regular, low-impact exercise routine.
- Talk to your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins, or pick some up at the store. They won’t hurt you if it turns out you are not pregnant.
- Find an OB/GYN, doula, midwife, and/or doctor you like.
This month, you will likely feel more of your pregnancy symptoms. Expect to feel tired more often, and plan for nausea. Not every woman has these issues, but the majority do.
- You can pack up the tampons and pads now since you won’t need them for a while.
- Stock up on ginger, saltines, Gatorade, and other helpful, baby-safe nausea and hydration aids.
- Read your health insurance information to determine what is covered to plan for doctor visits financially.
- Take a pregnancy test the first week after a missed period, or go to your doctor and have them do one for you.
- Make a doctor’s appointment for week 7 – 9 to get your first sonogram. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about any supplements and vitamins you are taking to ensure they are safe.
- Plan to take extra naps and sleep more than usual because fatigue is part of the first month of pregnancy.
- Follow a pregnancy diet and take your vitamins.
- Cut down on caffeine.
Month three is the end of the first trimester, and this is the most challenging month for some expectant mothers. Nausea typically peaks between weeks 8 and 10. The physical changes become apparent this month for most women, though they aren’t extreme yet. Expect breast soreness and tight pre-pregnancy clothing this month.
- Talk to your doctor about necessary and optional prenatal screenings. For example, nuchal translucency screening tests for chromosomal abnormalities are an option. It isn’t required, but it’s a good idea, and you should make the appointment for the second half of this month.
- You can start looking for new bras and some early maternity clothing at this point. Your pants will begin to fit tighter soon if they haven’t already.
- Think about pregnancy announcements and decide who you want to tell and how before your physique gets to the point where it gives away the secret.
- Keep up your exercise routine, diet, and vitamins. Stay away from secondhand smoke, alcohol, and any drugs your doctor hasn’t approved.
Second Trimester: Month 4
Your second trimester begins now. Week thirteen is the earliest some mothers feel a flutter or kick, though it may not happen for quite some time, so don’t worry if your little one isn’t an early kicker. Things will get busier, and your physical changes will become more apparent this month.
- Add Kegel exercises to your routine.
- Make the appointment for your 20-week ultrasound. Soon you’ll get to see the baby.
- Switch to side sleeping if you don’t do this naturally.
- Ensure you maintain your diet and exercise routine and take those vitamins even when you’re not feeling up to it. The nausea should fade out around mid-month for most women.
- This month is an excellent time to inform your employer about the pregnancy if you haven’t already done so. Don’t forget to ask about maternity leave.
- It is also a good time to create a baby registry and start shopping for some of the larger items you’ll need, like a crib or side sleeper.
- Decide whether you want to know the gender and whether you’re planning a reveal party (No fireworks, please).
- You will probably have a noticeable bump by the end of month four and be in early-maternity clothing.
You’re more than halfway there. Month five comes with a lot of excitement and typically less nausea than in the last two months. If you have kept up your diet and exercise plans, you may have more energy, but don’t stress if you feel tired. Building a whole human being inside your body is exhausting work.
- Schedule your glucose test, also called a gestational diabetes test.
- Some daycare centers have waitlists, so it’s time to start calling around. Likewise, if you plan to engage a nanny or babysitter, you might want to do some interviewing.
- Make sure you go to your 20-week ultrasound appointment.
- It’s never too early to get diapers and start putting your nursery together. Newborns go through 8-10 diaper changes a day.
- Baby proof your house this month since you likely won’t have the energy, and you may not be able to reach the outlets in your third trimester.
- Register for any breastfeeding or childbirth classes early, so you’ll be guaranteed a spot.
The sixth month is the end of your second trimester. Body changes will accelerate from here exponentially, so make sure you have any accommodations in place that you may need. There’s plenty to do, but you still have time. After this month you need to be closer to home, so take any trips now.
- Start thinking about baby names. Make a list and narrow it down to a few favorites if you haven’t already picked.
- Stay active and make sure you don’t skip vitamins or overeat junk food. You may have weird cravings, but remember to consider portion sizes.
- Create a birth plan with your doctor, spouse, or other relevant parties. If you plan to give birth at home, now is the time to get any special equipment you need, like a birthing pool.
- It’s time to look for a good pediatrician.
- Go take your glucose test.
- Add to your nursery, and don’t forget things you’ll need, like a changing table and someplace to sit while you hold the baby.
- Plan for your birth announcements toward the end of this month, so you don’t have to do much other than send them later.
- You may want to update your 401k and beneficiaries for your IRA and will.
- Month six is also a great time to start a college savings account. Years fly by fast.
- Make sure you have a breathable, new mattress in the crib for safety.
- Do your research on how babies sleep.
Third Trimester: Month 7
It’s time for the third trimester. Your baby is almost here! You’ll be seeing many of your doctors this month, every two weeks or so, and you’ll probably have friends and relatives who want to plan visits. Don’t forget to take time out for yourself and get lots of rest and good nutrition. Exercising will be more difficult this month, but keep it up.
- Set up your Group B Strep test for around 35 to 37 weeks.
- Go to your doctor’s appointments.
- Try to put the finishing touches on your nursery early this month.
- Pack a go-bag for the hospital even if you plan a home birth.
- Set up childcare for older children if you have them.
- You should be doing kick counts by this time, which is how long it takes the baby to kick 10 times. Talk to your doctor if there are any significant changes.
Month eight isn’t terribly busy. You may have a baby shower or other planned party this month. If so, don’t forget the thank you notes. However, it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself by taking it easy.
- Make your doctor’s appointments a priority.
- If possible, have someone else help deep clean your house. Ask them to look around and see if you missed any outlets or other obvious babyproofing activities.
- Add to your diaper collection and make sure you have bottles, nursing bras, nursing pads, a nursing pillow, and a breast pump.
- Wash any cloth items for your baby, like burp cloths, towels, clothes, and sheets. Use a hypoallergenic detergent.
- Doublecheck your hospital bag and make sure you have what you need for yourself, your partner, and the baby.
It’s almost baby time. You will have doctor appointments once a week this month. Enjoy the last few weeks of relative peace and quiet and take extra naps because soon, you’ll be up at all hours.
- Go to your doctor’s appointments every week.
- Find out how to add your baby to your insurance plan once they’re born.
- Install the car seat now, so it’s already in place for when you come home.
- Set up a notification list. It’s easier to do this phone-tree style where you only have to call one person and call the next person down the line and so on until everyone knows you’re at the hospital.
- Get more diapers. It may seem like a lot, but you’ll go through them all faster than you think.
- Prepare some meals to freeze ahead of time or buy some easy-to-make favorites. You’ll be hungry and short on time when you get home.
- Make sure you have post-pregnancy pads available at home.
- If you haven’t settled on a name, make sure you do that, so you know what to have them put on the birth certificate in a few days.
- Stay healthy by going for short walks, eating well, and avoiding easy sweets and junk food.
- All there is left to do is wait and maybe pick out your baby’s first outfit.
Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions expectant mothers wonder about.
When pregnant, the first thing you need is a healthy environment for you and your growing fetus. This means a clean, reasonably low-stress home for the mother and especially all the nutrients a baby needs. Prenatal vitamins with iron, DHA, and folic acid are a must-have for most mothers-to-be.
Although you can start anytime, the minimum sensible preparation time is three months. Those with health concerns may need longer. Focussing on health and preparing your body can help make things easier and minimize some health risks for you and your child.
Typically doctors do the first ultrasound around 18 to 21 weeks, but you can have it as early as 14 weeks in some cases. If the baby is in a convenient position, you may get a glimpse at their external sexual organs then. However, this isn’t always possible or accurate to gauge gender. Here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5824932/) is the National Library of Medicine’s explanation.
Many things can cause a miscarriage, and you cannot avoid all of them. However, you can keep your stress levels low, avoid smoke or secondhand smoke, and follow your doctor’s orders. Keeping your weight within normal limits, eating healthy, sleeping right, and exercising will go a long way toward cutting your risks.
Congratulations! If you’ve made it through this checklist completely, you are ready to bring your baby home. You’ve made every appointment and planned as much as possible in advance. No plan is perfect, but using a pregnancy checklist will take a lot of the pressure and planning off of your shoulders so you can focus on getting things done. Remember to stop, take time for yourself and breathe. What you’re doing is hard work, and you deserve all the joy it will bring.