So, there you are, pregnant, in the third trimester, the home stretch, the last mile, the final ultrasound, and you’re feeling pretty good as you review you the mental pre-baby checklist.  Set up the nursery?  Check.  Pack bag for the hospital?  Check.  Choose a name for the baby?  Check (maybe).  Just in case you find yourself worrying that chaos lurks around the corner, here are a few things to get organized before you head off to the hospital.

The last thing you want to do in the hospital or when you come home is worry about the details.  The more you can do ahead of time, the better.  Consider tackling the following four tasks:

Select Birth Announcements:

If you are planning to send out some sort of birth announcement (either by mail or email), put together your mailing list now.  If you are printing announcements, you can pick the style and figure out the quantity ahead of time, so that all you have to do is call the printer with the baby’s name, date and birth details.  Consider asking a friend to place the final order for you.  You can find self-adhesive labels at any office store and most word processing programs can easily print the addresses on them.  That way, all you have to do is label and stamp the envelopes when the announcements arrive.  Consider buying the stamps in advance too.  This can be done online or at a vending machine.  There are few things more frustrating or time-consuming, that standing in line at the post office.

Organize Meals:  

Yes, you can order take out or make a frozen dinner, but that doesn’t always result in a healthy or satisfying meal.  Consider asking someone to set up a calendar for friends and family members to volunteer to cook meals for the first few weeks.  Few things taste better than a home cooked meal, other than a home cooked meal that you didn’t have to cook.

Line Up Help:

Having a newborn at home can be a good amount of work.  You may have already decided that you want some kind of help, possibly from a family member, a friend or a professional.  If you haven’t made the arrangements yet, now is a good time to finalize the who, how, what and when.  You can always trim back any arrangements, so don’t be afraid to overbook.

Get Sleep:

“Get some sleep now…you’ll never sleep well again…at least for a long time.”  You may have heard these words many times already, but, take advantage of the free time before baby arrives to sleep.  There is a reason that sleep deprivation is an interrogation technique.  The first few weeks after your baby arrives can be a true shock to the system.  The sleep cycle you knew and loved gets broken up into teensy, weensy pieces, which is much less satisfying or refreshing.  Rest assured, you do adapt fairly quickly.  But stocking up on sleep is a good thing.  Yes, it’s tough because you’re so pregnant and uncomfortable, but, if you can catch a few hours here and there, take advantage.

The point of all these tasks is to help you organize any loose ends and make “space” in your mind for when the baby arrives.  The less you have on your mind on delivery day, the better.

Remember, a little organization and preparation can go a long way in helping any new parent feel more in control, more successful and, in the end, a little saner.