Third Trimester

10 Things You Have To Do Before You Go Into Labor

Think you’re ready for delivery? Not until you’ve taken care of these must-dos.

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Take a childbirth class

You can brush up on labor basics in advance, but it’s worth it to practice breathing and relaxation techniques with someone who knows what they’re talking about. Plus, you probably have some personal questions you’ve been dying to have answered. Sure, humankind existed for hundreds of thousands of years before Lamaze and Bradley, but pushing out the head (and shoulders!) was probably a whole lot more traumatic back then.

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Know the breastfeeding basics

Don’t expect baby to just latch on and start feeding. For both of you, it will be a learning process — and some new moms have trouble. Head off problems as much as you can by learning the basics before you give birth.

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Get a crib and set up the nursery

Every baby needs to have a comforting place to sleep. Purchase and set up the crib or bassinet completely and follow this checklist for creating a safe and practical nursery before baby moves in.

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Pack your hospital bag

Make sure you have all the essentials before you head to the hospital. Check out our packing list and these extras moms couldn’t live without.

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Select birth announcements

While you’re waiting for labor signs to kick in, take time to decide how you will announce baby’s arrival to the world. Design a photo card in advance and save it as a draft and enter the contact info of who you plan to send them to, then you can quickly plug in the delivery details and a photo after baby arrives—the cards can be mailed out before you even leave the hospital!

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Freeze some meals, or round up takeout menus

Before your due date, it’s a good idea to stock your fridge — similar to the way people do before a very big storm— with delicious, nutritious stuff. Some high-achieving moms-to-be bake and freeze casseroles and lasagnas, so they have easy-to-warm meals for those hectic first weeks with baby. But if you’re busy enough already, we think it’s okay to just update your collection of menus from restaurants that deliver.

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Install the car seat

Once you go into labor, both you and your partner will be too nervous to read step-by-step instructions carefully or to think clearly enough to know the car seat is installed correctly. So do it early and it will be all set to go when delivery day arrives.

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Wash crib sheets and baby clothes

It’s definitely a good idea to wash swaddles, crib sheets, blankets and any other items that will come in contact with her skin before she wears them. While you don’t need to pre-wash everything in her dresser just yet, it’s good to prepare at least a week’s worth of clothing so it’s one less thing to worry about while recovering from childbirth. Wash items separately using a gentle, baby-friendly detergent that’s free of dyes or perfumes.

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Make a labor playlist

Some moms swear that listening to calming — or just really great — music during labor helped them through. It’s certainly worth a shot to assemble a music playlist of some of your favorite songs if you think it could make the whole thing easier. Just remember to pack the portable speakers.

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Choose a pediatrician

You can’t go wrong by asking people you know for advice—you’ll be sure to get an honest answer and a recommendation from someone you trust. Before you start making calls and setting up consultations (don’t worry, they’re usually free), check that they are members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and prepare a list of questions to ask each doctor. And try not to stress too much about it—if it turns out that the pediatrician you picked isn’t quite working out, you can simply find a new one and move on.

Shutterfly Baby brings you Countdown to Baby—ideas and inspiration to help you get ready for your new addition. To learn how Shutterfly Baby can help, visit Shutterfly.com

By Elena Donovan Mauer