I’ve never been more informed about anything than I was about being pregnant. I read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, knew exactly what fruit the size of my baby was, and literally had stacks of index cards about birthing stages, proper car seat installation, you name it. What I didn’t read up on was what happens after the baby comes. I knew what to expect while I was expecting, but not after. For instance…

Breastfeeding is no joke. For being the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding can take a lot of work and equipment. And time and tears. It can also make you feel like a feedbag. If you’re not breastfeeding you know what else is no joke? The mountain of bottles taking over your sink and countertop. It’s all going to feel overwhelming, which is why you need to…

Get OUT! Once you’re ready, get out of the house. The first step is the hardest step, but it’s the most important. It can feel so overwhelming because not only do you have to get your tiny new human out the door, but you have to pretend you haven’t already had two spit-up induced outfit changes, three ugly cry meltdowns, and don’t feel like you just wrapped camera as an extra on The Walking Dead. So start with a walk around the block, then to the market, and work your way up to short trips to Target. Once you get that down, join some sort of Mommy & Me group because you will NEED to…

Make mom friends. They will become your lifeline. Nobody will understand your deal like another mom. They’ll laugh with you when you tell them about how you cut your baby out of a poop-soaked onesie this morning (completely acceptable, by the way), and cry with you over sleep deprivation and how you haven’t showered in 4 days.Remember, this is the only time in your child’s life when you’ll be able to choose your kid’s friends based on who YOU want to be friends with, so take advantage. It’s also important that while making mom friends you…

Diversify your mom portfolio. Once you make that first mom friend, you might be tempted to call it a day. But putting all your eggs in one mom’s basket can lead to disappointment, because that friend might move away (we’ve got a pretty high turnover rate where I live in Los Angeles), or go back to work, or (gasp) have plans with other friends. You don’t need to start stockpiling them, but try to get out and make a few mom friends because in that first year…

You might lose some of your pre-baby friends. There are some friendships that will require more of your time than you can give. You might not even realize it’s happening because you’re so wrapped up in your brand new, all consuming, terrifying and beautiful baby. Heck, you might even have some of that Post Partum Depression or Anxiety everyone talks about and not even know it. Even though you’d love nothing more than to hang out with your old crew, it can feel impossible at first. They’ll feel neglected, and you’ll feel guilty, and sometimes friendships can’t repair from a tear like that. But hang in there, because soon you’ll emerge from the clouds and haze of the first year (yes, YEAR), and you’ll start going out more, which is why it’s essential to…

Learn how to separate from your child early on. This is one of the most invaluable things I have done for my family. It will not be easy, and there will be tears. Lots of tears. And they may last a while, but stick with it mama! Practice makes perfect. Throw on some big dark sunglasses, choose a place that you trust your child will be well taken care of, and assure them “mommy always comes back.” My son is now almost three and is a champ at acclimating, which is important because you’ll need a break when…

Your cup will runneth empty. At the end of the day you’ll be so exhausted and your cup will be so empty it will feel impossible to pour into someone else. That’s why you’ll need those other mom friends (shoot them a text, they’ll understand!), and why it’s important to communicate with your partner. Maybe they need to pour into you, or maybe they need to leave you the hell alone. Whatever it is, they can’t read your mind, so try to let them know in a way that doesn’t involve ripping off their face. And whatever you do, just remember to…

Give yourself a break. And while you’re at it, give other moms a break. Everyone is trying their hardest. There is no baby manual. Every child is different with different needs and dispositions. Same with moms. Just do the best you can do, and remember you somehow survived whoever raised you.

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