(Written May 2011 and updated January 2015.)
When I landed on bedrest with our third baby still in our first trimester I was nowhere near ready to bring a newborn home. I had to get ready real fast, and while flat on my back. Bedrest meant I had LOTS of time to think and plan, and when your wonderful friend goes to the grocery store and calls from her cell to say, "Okay, what do you need??" it helps to have some clue. (I had no clue.) After not being able to do anything for myself when expecting that little one, it was really important for me to be as prepared as possible before we got pregnant with our next baby. Not that I'll ever get through my whole list, but I started a "pre-baby prep list" a few pregnancies back and I just modify it when I know we're starting to think about another baby. Yep, I am this obsessive about planning - but I've had lots of practice, and it's getting easier with each baby. Plus I love that sense of being prepared and being able to relax a bit and focus on the kids and growing that little baby in peace. If I can get this stuff out of the way, I can put my attention on the important stuff.
I have a friend hoping and planning for another baby and we discussed this today so here it is - my list! I hope it helps! You know who you are. 😉
Schedule a physical with your midwife or OB.
Take your prenatal vitamins (make sure they have enough calcium, plus omega-3s and D.)
Try to have a consistent exercise routine, even if it's just walking around the block.
Schedule a massive shopping trip - everything we need for food, toiletries, cleaning, diapers, meds, etc for first trimester so only perishables need to be bought. If there is space, get stuff for after delivery, too.
freezer meals - easy food frozen for quick feeds, include desserts and treats for kids (muffins, granola bars, cookie dough, etc)
convenience foods for morning sickness survival (or postpartum)
Start gathering whatever is needed for your birth bag (hospital or birth center packing lists at those links.)
If the holidays are during my pregnancy or first couple months postpartum I plan Christmas cards - either plan a family photo I can print inexpensively or just get some cute cards and skip the photo for the year.
Plan gifts for our family and others, presents for friends' b-days and babies
Holiday gatherings - buy ingredients for easy meals for potlucks/parties (freezer cookie dough, dips, etc.) Sometimes I was too sick to go to gatherings but I could send Kit and the kids with a dish and they didn't have to miss out on the fun and Kit didn't have to stress about coming up with food. Not that anyone expected us to bring something when I'm home sick/on bedrest but still - I like to do our part. 🙂
(Example - C was due right before Thanksgiving so we planned for that so we wouldn't have to think about it right after he came.)
Prep, plan, get organized. Keep schedule light. GET ORGANIZED. Set up so kids can do lessons/homework but be as self sufficient as possible and do them in bed with me if necessary.
Coordinate carpool for kids' activities.
And for homeschoolers, remember that a baby is a valid reason to take a semester of maternity leave and the kids won't suffer for having an easy schedule for a few months.
baby book - choose album, or company to have it printed with
design pregnancy announcement (we like to do something cute for announcement - so this is obviously pre-conception)
design baby's birth announcement, get envelopes
For us high risk mommas - plan for possible bedrest: childcare? games/toys/entertainment for kids? easy meals & snacks?
Organize the home - clean closets, cabinets, shelves, garage. Toss, recycle, give away whatever we can.
Clean the cars out and keep packed diaper bags ready w/change clothes for all kids in case need to leave w/someone for overnight.
Stock up on stamps.
Buy or make thank you notes.
Put everything possible on auto bill pay, check investments, life insurance, etc.
Sort kids' clothes - what fits, what will they outgrow, what will they need before baby comes, sort through bins of clothes in garage and make sure we have quick access to the clothes they're growing into. If need bigger sizes, compile list of clothes to go search for.
Pull out maternity clothes
Pack away whatever clothes I won't need while in third trimester (non-pregnant clothes for that season - just shove in back of closet.)
Schedule all kids' well checks, vision & dental exams.
Schedule therapy for as far advance as possible (OT and speech for kids.)
hand sanitizer (buy bulk, will need for after baby to have kids clean their grubby hands before they touch the newborn)
Totally Toddler for clean ups
toothpaste (kids & adult)
feminine stuff for postpartum (and breast pads)
diapers - older kids and newborn
any other cleaning supplies
disposable bowls, cups, utensils?
basics - flour, sugar, oats, wheat, yeast, baking soda & powder, brown sugar, chocolate chips, pasta, beans. Restock pantry.
breakfast stuff - oatmeal, cold cereal, cream wheat
lunch stuff - crackers, tuna, peanut butter, jelly, mac & cheese, tortillas, soups
dinner stuff - write up menu and shop for freezer meals
morning sickness - frozen or canned fruit, sherbert, passion fruit juice for smoothies; peppermints or other hard candy, anything else that strikes my fancy, crackers
Christmas gifts for kids
Christmas gift cards
envelopes for Christmas cards, birth announcements
birthday gifts for kids
birthday gifts for kids' friends
baby presents for any expecting friends
any clothes kids will need
any other holiday stuff - Halloween candy? Thanksgiving dinner stuff? New Year's party? Valentine or Easter stuff? Whatever possible, stock up in advance or write up list for Kit to grab.
treats/toys/entertainment from dollar store in case of bedrest for older kids
So, that's obviously a rather detailed and extensive list but one that helped me feel better prepared. Other parents would rather wait until their third trimester to tackle some of these things, or even wait until postpartum. There's no right way to do it! Your list will also vary based on budget, but whenever possible I think it's good to anticipate that postpartum you will need to go with easier food preparation items and that can mean a higher food budget than usual for those first few weeks postpartum. It's worth it so that you can all take it easy while adjusting to life with a newborn.