You’re pregnant! Now what? In addition to fun stuff like telling friends and picking outfits, there are lots of other tasks ahead of you before baby arrives. Stay on track with this handy week-by-week guide, which covers everything from when to schedule pediatrician interviews to the best time to stock your baby registry.
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Week 1 (or before): Stock up on prenatal vitamins with folic acid. These are key for baby’s early development, so it’s actually best to be taking them daily while trying to conceive. Then you’re already in the good habit by the time you’re pregnant.
Week 4: Call your doctor to make an appointment to confirm your pregnancy, or find a new OB or midwife and set up an initial appointment.
Week 6: Make a dentist appointment. Yup, you don’t want to forget to go to the dentist while you’re pregnant, and you may find yourself too busy to schedule a visit right after the baby arrives. So it’s best to make that visit happen early on, especially because fluctuating pregnancy hormones can cause all sorts of tooth and gum issues.
Week 8: Around now is when to expect your first official prenatal visit to be scheduled. Each practice is different, but most will want to see you between 7 and 12 weeks to start your prenatal care.
Week 10: Create your own personal “must do” list for before baby arrives. If you’re feeling ill during the first trimester, writing them down will help you start them when you’re back in business come second trimester. Such items might include painting the nursery, batch-cooking freezer meals, digging into that book you’ve been wanting to read for ages, organizing your makeup collection, and whatever else you’d love to cross off before labor day.
Week 12: Invest in some maternity clothing. Depending on how many pregnancies your body has gone through, you may need to start wearing maternity clothes before the end of your first trimester. You should also start sleeping on your side, instead of your back, to avoid compressing a major blood vessel behind your abdomen.
Week 14: Start to think about childcare. Whether you’re looking for a part-time sitter, a full-time nanny, an au pair, or a daycare, you’ll want to start exploring options early because some book up quickly. If you work, you should review your company’s maternity leave policy so you can plan around that.
Week 16: Start building that baby registry! You’ll probably want to research bigger-ticket items like the stroller, so allow yourself plenty of time to read reviews and ask for recommendations (check out our guide to the best new strollers). Plus, you’ll want plenty of time to edit your registry later on as you think of new items or swap out existing items.
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Week 18: Research a pediatrician for your baby. Most will have you come in for an informal interview to meet the staff and see the office. (Check out our tips on how to find the right pediatrician). You’ll need to choose a pediatrician before you give birth so they can examine your baby in the hospital. You’ll also want to decide if you want to sign up for a childbirth class.
Week 20: You’ll have your baby’s anatomy scan around this time. Exciting! Whether you choose to find out the gender, it’s a good time to start thinking of baby names. It’s also a good time to sign up for infant CPR or newborn care classes. Check the hospital where you’ll deliver for offerings.
Week 22: Consider establishing a 529 account or dedicated savings account for your child to start putting money toward higher education. Family and friends can all contribute to it. It’s never too early!
Week 24: Schedule a tour of the hospital where you’ll give birth and get answers to delivery questions like: How many people are allowed in the delivery room? and What’s the visitor policy? Then reach out to your insurance company to ask about getting a fully covered breast pump.
Week 26: Create a birth plan and review it to your OB or midwife. This can be as basic or detailed as you like. It could cover your medical conditions, preferences for a vaginal or C-section birth, and whether you’d like an epidural. Print out copies to bring to the hospital, but be aware that things may not go exactly to plan. Also, decide if you want cord blood banking, which gives you the chance to save stem cells to be used in future medical treatments.
Week 28: Are you considering hiring a doula? If so, now’s the time to interview and book one. Also, clear your calendar because your doc will want to start seeing you every two weeks, then every week!
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Week 30: Install your baby’s car seat and then swing by your local firehouse to make sure it’s installed correctly. If you live in an older home, test for lead paint. And no matter what type of home you live in, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if they aren’t already there.
Week 32: Pack your hospital bag so you’re ready if baby arrives early. The hospital provides basic items for your, and your baby’s, comfort, but you’ll want to pack items to keep you comfortable, along with a going-home outfit for baby. And buy any last-minute items you don’t already have for life at home with baby, like the crib and mattress, changing table, diapers, swaddle blankets, onesies or a white noise machine. Once baby arrives, you’ll literally have your hands full.
Week 34: Decide on a baby name so you have a few weeks to make sure you or your partner don’t change your mind.
Week 36: Try to relax. Now might be your last chance in a while to go shopping or see a movie and sleep like it’s going out of style.
Week 38: Inquire about adding the baby to your insurance plan. Most insurance companies give you 30 days after birth to add baby to your plan, but you’ll want to confirm what yours requires.
Week 40: Get ready to give birth! If you haven’t delivered yet, your OB will be monitoring you closely to determine whether to induce.
What would you add to this pregnancy timeline? Let us know in the comments!
— Whitney C. Harris