It seems as soon as your belly pops, words of so-called wisdom start flying at you from every direction, and even your childless great-aunt Sue suddenly becomes an expert in baby-rearing. Before you become overwhelmed by the avalanche of advice headed rapidly in your direction, take a break to read up on what experienced moms think you really should know before baby makes three (or more).
We spread word of our search via friends, family members and our web- and social media sites. Parents responded from all over the country, and our featured moms range in age, background and lifestyle. Here’s what they had to say:
Everyone will offer advice, but it’s up to you whether to take it or leave it. —Kristin V.
Don’t be afraid to annoy people when it comes to making sure your child gets what she needs. If you think your baby needs to be seen by the doctor and the office staff is trying to blow you off, stand your ground until you get in there! —Kara D.
I wish someone had told me that you can get varicose veins in obscure places while pregnant. Ouch! —Emily R.
Parenting books do not have all the answers. —Katie D.
When your baby does something cute or funny, jot it down. You might think you’ll remember everything, but it’s impossible! Most of all, though, hug, kiss and tell your children how much you love them every chance you get. —Kristen W.
Babies cry. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. —Michelle H.
Never wake a sleeping baby to eat. My baby would rather sleep than eat, and he’s completely happy and healthy. Plus, I enjoy the free time I get during those long naps! —Lorena G.
Smile, listen patiently, and thank your friends for their advice. Then do what your own gut tells you is the right thing. —Becky B.
Don’t sweat the small stuff! —Liz W.
You have to do what works for your family. No two babies are the same and you can’t find all the answers written out somewhere. A mother’s intuition is a right and powerful thing. —Lindsey B.
Weight loss isn’t immediate. Nine months up, nine months down (or maybe even longer!). —Andrea A.
Learn to say no. It’s very liberating! —Cari S.
Small babies aren’t capable of manipulation, so if your infant is crying, it’s because he needs you. He’s trying to tell you something—listen to him. —Addie H.
Pick your battles. Choose one or two things most important to you (sleeping, healthy eating, whatever), and give the rest some leeway. —Mandi D.
Make it through the first six weeks —just survive. It will get better. —Katie D
Give yourself a couple weeks to recover before allowing any houseguests. When you’re learning to breastfeed, recovering from labor and delivery, and figuring out how to parent, you don’t need the added stress of company. —Kate C.
The days are long, but the years are short. —Claire T.
Find your own parenting style. Just because your sister swears by co-sleeping doesn’t mean it’s right for you. —Jill Q.
Do the best you can, and that will be enough. —Erin T.
You’re stronger than you think you are. I was terrified about labor and delivery, but amazed when some kind of natural primal instinct kicked in and I managed to deliver my nearly 9-pound baby with no drugs. It was incredibly empowering! —Kathleen W.
Showers are overrated. Naps are few and far between. Spend your extra hour accordingly. —Sara F.
Don’t rush to get to that next milestone. You’ll blink and he’ll be 20. —Shanna B.
Trust your partner. He might not do things the way you’d do them, but your baby will benefit from both of your parenting approaches. Remember, he loves your baby as much as you do. —Savanna B.
Hold your baby as much as you can during those first months. —Sarah H.
Reach out to other moms. Sharing your woes with someone who’s in the same place in her life can make even the darkest days seem a little bit brighter! —Layla P.
Enjoy your baby. Don’t get so caught up in the worry and stress that you miss out on the opportunity to simply bask in your baby’s beauty. —Amy B.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself … it will make you a better (and happier!) mother. —Samantha R.
Sleep when baby sleeps! —Tamsen S.
This too shall pass. Sometimes that hought makes me relieved, sometimes it makes me cry. Sometimes both. —Sarah B.
Have a tip you want to share? Let us know in the comments.