12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Taking Care of a Newborn

But man are they cute...I'm three weeks away from giving birth to my third kid. While I've obviously done this before, it's been almost four years since I've had a newborn baby. And, well, you forget what that's like (or you block it out…whatever works). I know it will all come back to me, but I also want to prepare myself for what lies ahead. Right now, I go back and forth between thinking it's going to be a piece of cake (babies come out sleeping through the night, right?) and thinking it's going to be a total effing nightmare. I recall the time with my first two babies being not bad at all. But I think maybe I'm delusional (see blocking it out, above).

As a refresher course of sorts, I reached out to my many mom friends who've recently given birth—some for the first time, some for the second or third. I asked them what they were most surprised by (pleasantly or not-so pleasantly) in those first weeks home and what they wished they would have known before. While everyone's experience—and baby—is different, I found it all incredibly helpful so I wanted to share. If you have any head's ups to add, please do! Here goes:

1. You don't need to research every move you make
"There are serious expert opinions on both sides of every question/problem/theory when it relates to child rearing. It's exhausting to research anything big or small. Which led me to another thing I wish I'd known: Your 'mama instinct' is often the best choice for your family. I wish I'd believed in myself a little more in the beginning."—Caroline

2. Babies sleep a lot—take advantage

"Now that I'm a mom of a toddler, I think back on those first few months and realize they were a lot easier than I would have expected. My son slept about 21 out of 24 hours a day for the first eight weeks. Don't get me wrong, a newborn brings a specific set of challenges but for the most part, my son ate, pooped, and slept, on a three-hour cycle. I was actually able to get a lot more done than I can now!"—Marissa

3. You need to take care of you, too
"One of the things I didn't expect was my recovery. I knew labor and delivery was going to be tough, but I didn't think about afterwards. Everyone focuses on the baby but those first couple weeks are tough on the mom—even with a vaginal delivery. It's hard to sit, shower, go to the bathroom, etc. Next time, I will baby myself more."—Alexis

4. Babies aren't born knowing when to sleep
"I wish someone had told me that some babies truly, literally have their days and nights confused. My daughter napped beautifully during the day but she was up all night. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn't realize we had to teach her to sleep and that she wasn't born knowing how to do it. It takes work to get them on the right schedule!"—Liz

5. Breastfeeding is hard…but it will get easier!
"I expected that nursing could be difficult to establish, and it was, but what I didn't realize was that nursing really is a full-time job and then some in the first few weeks. And while I was in that intense stage, I wish I knew that it wasn't going to be like that forever! It gets so much easier!"—Caroline

6. Don't always assume the worst

"Most babies have some sort of gas or reflux within the first 8-10 weeks. I freaked out for about a week when my son was eight weeks old, because I was convinced he was colicky. It was over in seven days. It was a long seven days but still...I wish I had known how normal that is."—Mary

7. Baby blues are a real thing
"I don't think I was prepared for the first few days at home in terms of my mental state. My baby cried the entire first night and I really felt helpless, like I didn't really know what I was doing. I definitely had the baby blues at first...loss of appetite and feeling inadequate, having no routine, which made me feel so abnormal. But it's totally normal! And it passes. Now those days are a distant memory."—Elise

8. Showers really are hard to come by
"I thought the 'finding time to shower' thing was just a cliché, but it's so true. Showers really do become a luxury. I guess I just didn't realize the shift on personal hygiene. There I was cleaning every single bodily fluid off my little one, meanwhile I was a complete mess. My baby was fine and I was fine, too—just perpetually in need of a shower and clean clothes."—Lauren

9. Babies don't need a lot of stuff
"One thing that was clear to me with my third was the reality that babies need literally like 20 items total instead of the several hundred I 'needed' for the others. Two blankets, two towels, two Binkys, three bottles, 10 outfits and very little else. They will, in fact, survive."—Elissa

10. The nights can be brutal, but morning always comes
"Sometime between the first and second week, I told my husband I felt like I was in the movie, 'I am Legend.' As night fell we would shutter everything, hunker down and hope we survived the attack. I remember sighing in relief every morning as the sun came up. Also: it's amazing how you really can function on much less sleep than you thought."—Andrea

11. Try to remember how fast the hard stuff will be over
"When you are going through it the days are so long, and you are so tired, it's easy to forget how amazing having this new life is. I wish someone had told me to cherish those middle-of-the-night feedings a little more, because they don't last forever. And it really can be a very sweet time with your baby. Seven and a half months later, I forget so much about when my daughter was a newborn. It honestly feels like ages ago!!"—Melissa

12. The only thing you can count on is change

"My baby started sleeping through the night at three weeks and I felt like a rockstar—until at six weeks when she wanted to eat from 5-10 p.m. and would not let me put her down. I had nightmares of never eating dinner with two hands again and then—boom!—the next week it was back to normal. Next time, I won't panic if the baby's having a cranky day or week because I know it won't last forever. I will, however, continue to think I'm a rockstar when things go well…every mom should be her own (secret) cheerleader!"—Katie