The final months (weeks!) (days!) of pregnancy are an exciting in-between, when you’re at the end of an era, on the brink of new life, and frankly, reaching the extent of physical capacity. It’s a time that requires balancing so much to do with doing as little as possible. Because it feels like your last chance to tackle all. the. things.—but maybe also your last chance to sleep.
So what ducks are worth getting in a row, mama bird? Here’s our ultimate guide to feathering your nest.
Stockpile the kitchen.
The postpartum hunger is real, but the time (and energy) to cook is minimal. So fill your freezer with heat-and-eat meals or ready-to-blend smoothie fixings. Stock up on pantry staples and your favorite shelf-stable snacks. Aim to keep perishable essentials (milk, eggs, fresh produce) on hand, so you don’t come home with an empty stomach to find an empty fridge. (But if you do, there is always grocery delivery! And doting friends! And takeout! You will not go hungry.)
Pack your hospital bag.
When the time comes, you’ll want to be ready. (Or at least have a sense of what you want to bring.) Not sure what to take or leave? Consult our hospital bag checklist.
Create a contact sheet.
It might seem silly, but it’s entirely plausible that without a list you’ll forget to let Someone Important know your baby has been born. Draft an email with everyone on the to-update list or make a note in your phone of who to text (or have your partner text) when there’s news to share.
Designate a support system.
This will look different for everyone, but may include partners, friends, family members, colleagues. Whoever they are, rally the support of at least three to five members of your “village” to check in on you periodically postpartum to see how you’re doing both physically and mentally. It can be hard to recognize postpartum depression or other mood disorders when you’re in the thick of it, so a reliable support system is critical.
Collect your postpartum essentials.
You’ll have a few needs of your own postpartum, and it can be helpful to have any essential supplies already at the ready when you need them. Consider a basket near the toilet with maxipads, witch hazel pads, even bottom spray (trust us). Treat yourself to a new extra-large cup or water bottle you can open and drink from one-handed. Place nightlights in the nursery and the bathroom to make navigating those middle-of-the-night routines a little easier. While it’s impossible to anticipate exactly what your days (and nights) will look like, spending a few minutes thinking through certain scenarios can steer your nesting in the right direction.
Launder baby’s laundry.
This is literally the cutest the chore will ever be. The impossibly tiny bodysuits. The softest sleepers. The stack of yet-to-be-stained burp cloths. Wash it all in baby-friendly detergent and organize into baby’s drawers and baskets to your heart’s content. (There’s no such thing as too extra if color-coding swaddles makes you happy.)
Line up logistics.
These are the most boring/intimidating/easy-to-procrastinate tasks, but you won’t regret any legwork you do on the. Talk to HR about maternity leave. Preregister at the hospital. Tour daycares, if you’ll be going that route, and get on a waitlist or two if need be. Pick a pediatrician. Update your will. Renew your driver’s license if it expires soon. As much as possible, try to take care of what you can before there’s a baby in tow.
Make space for baby.
Clear out a kitchen cabinet for baby feeding essentials. Set up a diaper-changing station in your bedroom, if you plan to have baby room-in with you. Consider where the bouncer will live, where you might be able to conveniently locate a basket full of diapers and wipes in the living room. It’s unlikely everything will stay tidy throughout the throes of postpartum, but having a spot for things won’t hurt (and will, in fact, actually help any helping hands know where to put things).
It really is the most important thing you can do for both yourself and your baby. So if you don’t get to anything else on the list, don’t fret. It’ll all work itself out and get taken care of as time or necessity permits. So, take a deep (or as deep as the sweet baby in your rib cage allows) breath and take it easy, mama. The best way to nest is to rest.