When you're expecting a baby, everyone has lots of unsolicited advice. But how about a comprehensive guide to labor, delivery, and your baby's first days from women who've done it recently? Here you go.

How do I get this party started?

Is it going to happen on my due date? How long after that can this go? Can I induce myself naturally? Castor oil? Jalapeno poppers???

Is it go time?

When they’re real, contractions come in waves closer and closer together, so start timing. If you go to the hospital too early, you may get sent home. But precipitous labor is also very much a thing.

What do I wear?

If you want but also don’t want a bra, consider these cute labor tops. Some people buy their own gowns. There are also skirts. Everything is going to get stuff on it. If modesty matters to you, communicate that early.

Talk to me about the pooping.

It’s probably going to happen, but it’s actually not a big deal, and there’s no guaranteed method for preventing it.

What are my rights?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology encourages OBs to honor the patient's wishes in almost all circumstances. If you refuse an intervention that your doctor feels is medically necessary, they can pursue a judge’s permission to proceed, but ACOG strongly discourages that. Still, it’s another reason to choose a doctor you trust to tell you what they’re going to do (some don’t), care about your wishes, and give you options. (And yes, you can fire your OB, at any time.)

How long is this going to take?

If it’s your first delivery, you are minimally dilated, you get induced, and/or you get an epidural, it could be a while. Check now that your streaming subscriptions are up to date, download podcasts and books, and once you’re underway, try to take a pre-push nap.

I Had An Accidental Home Birth

It was never our plan for me to give birth at home. Let alone give birth at home unassisted. Although my husband and I tend to sway more alternatively when it comes to healthcare, a solo birth felt too alternative for us. We had connected with a…
By Gretchen Bossio

I Wish I Would've Been Induced

The last few weeks of my pregnancy felt like they lasted forever. I was uncomfortable, exhausted, stressed out, and ready for my pregnancy to end and motherhood to begin. I also wanted to go into labor on my own. Most of my friends championed…
By Steph Montgomery

I Had My Dog With Me Through Labor

I have been very blessed in the support I've received during labor and birth. I've had three births. Each birth was different, but all three have been out-of-hospital, unmedicated births. And during all three, I was supported by my partner, my mom,…
By Olivia Hinebaugh

I Gave Birth Surrounded By My Friends

When you’re pregnant with a baby you’re placing for open adoption with a gay couple, you’re already deviating so hard from the traditional motherhood script that you might as well do whatever you want. The day my son was born was no exception. There…
By Mariah MacCarthy

Yep — I Pooped On The Table

In preparation for childbirth, I did a lot of research. I watched birthing videos, I read up on the different stages of labor, and endeavored to keep an open mind about the experience. One of the things I knew I needed to keep my mind most open for…
By Ceilidhe Wynn

I Hated Trying For A Vaginal Delivery

When you meet a new mom, one of the first topics of conversation that always comes up is your birth story. I don't know if this impulse is encoded in our DNA, or if the doctors perform some strange procedure on us while we're recovering in the…
By Megan Zander

I Want To Talk About The Post-C-Section Fart

Like many women, I had hoped for a vaginal delivery. I didn't want to get a c-section. In our culture, there's so much negativity and shame associated with c-sections that I was just terrified of getting one. So I never read anything about them,…
By Yasmine Singh

I Loved Both My C-Sections

I think I'm part of a small group of women who have enjoyed having c-sections. So far I've had two, and if all my dreams come true, I'll be having a third one when I have another child. I've actually shocked people with the love I've had for my…
By Margaret e Jacobsen

What Birth Is Like For Everyone Else In The Room

Can I get an epidural anytime I want?

There are lots of things in modern medicine for which many of us are truly grateful, and close to the top of that list is the heaven blessed magic of the epidural. Having experienced labor both with and without it, I will tell you that I would…
By Cat Bowen

When is the best time to get one?

Being pregnant is, in a word, confusing. For every piece of well-meaning advice you receive, you hear another tidbit that directly contradicts it. "Wait as long as possible to get your epidural so it won't slow down labor," one friend told me. "Get…
By Caroline Hogeveen

Will it hurt?

The question of whether or not to get an epidural during childbirth is one many moms-to-be agonize over. Some women have their hearts set on a natural childbirth, preferring to explore such medication-free labor pain management options as…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

What are the risks?

If you've ever experienced the pain of childbirth, you know that epidurals can be absolute miracle workers. When administered properly, this popular form of anesthesia can turn birth from an utter nightmare into a manageable (even enjoyable)…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

What about side effects?

I'm not going to lie, I bow at the altar of the epidural. After having one unmedicated labor and delivery and juxtaposing it against the delightful occasion that was my delivery with my daughter, I would make out with a cat for an epidural. Because…
By Cat Bowen

Will the epidural affect the baby?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I made the mistake of sharing my plan for a natural birth with a roomful of women at my hair salon. They were all mothers and they all felt strongly about the foolishness of my idea. Why would I deliberately…
By Elizabeth Helen Spencer

Do epidurals really slow down labor?

Before I gave birth to twins in 2012, I was certain that I wanted a full-on "crunchy" labor and delivery when the time eventually came. I read books and watched documentaries about midwives and home births and the dangers of unnecessary medical…
By Alana Romain

Will having one increase my chances of having a c-section?

When creating a delivery plan, most expectant moms run into the whole epidural question. Chances are, you have a million considerations about epidurals and their effect on delivery. For instance, do epidurals increase the risk of C-sections, or is…
By Lindsay E. Mack

Why would anyone not get the drugs?

We all know about the unofficial Mommy Olympics; the way we’re all pushed to compete and parent against one another. These games start early, too, and your labor and delivery plans are considered the opening ceremonies. Will you go the “easy” route…
By Priscilla Blossom

Which interventions make it not a “natural” birth?

The list of things moms are shamed over, unfortunately, grows every day. Whether or not you breastfeed or formula feed, bed-share, cloth diaper, return to work or stay home; every parenting choice seems open to judgment and scrutiny. Sadly much of…
By Fiona Tapp

Where did the term “natural birth” come from, anyway?

There's an old adage that claims, "A woman's war is in the birthing bed." Granted, it's from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I'm going to roll with it. Why? Well, because it reflects how we often view birth. We frequently…
By Jamie Kenney

Is there any medical benefit to not having an epidural?

One of the first things many women start to consider when they become pregnant is their birthing experience. Deciding whether or not to use pain medication was a big choice for me and other mothers I know. It's not an easy decision, since there are…
By Autumn Jones

It can wear off???

Few things in life are as frightful as childbirth. I remember knowing from day one of pregnancy that I'd need an epidural. By day two, I was worrying that the anesthetic wouldn't take. How long would the medication take to kick in? And how long does…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Is an epidural the only medication option?

In the span of five years, I gave birth to three 8-and-a-half pound baby boys. You could say I’m well-versed in the three stages of labor (early, active, and transition, otherwise known as “pain,” “more pain,” and “holy crap, I’m gonna die”). This…
By Sarah Bradley

What is nitrous oxide like?

Before my second baby was born, I never understood how anyone would call the day she gave birth the best of her life. I just couldn't reconcile good times with a day spent in a medical facility with strangers gauging my cervical dilation. I’d rate…
By Lisa Daly Steffey

Are there non-medicine pain management techniques that actually work?

Committing to an unmedicated birth is as frightening a decision as it is an empowering one. If this is your first pregnancy or you've never experienced an unmedicated birth before, you're likely doing your best to prepare and research the most…
By Olivia Youngs

Do pressure points work?

I'm currently less than two weeks away from my due date and feeling all the aches and pains. It's not comfortable, but I know I'm basically riding a luxury cruise ship right now compared to what's to come. Birthing my babies has been the most…
By Shannon Evans

Can we talk about back labor?

If you've had a baby before, you know the unmistakable feeling of contractions. If you're expecting your first little one, you're on the lookout. While contractions feel a bit different for everyone, many women describe them similarly: like their…
By Caroline Hogeveen

What if I really want to do it without drugs?

There's more than one way to give birth, and the only "right way" is whatever works for you, your body, and your baby. In a hospital, at home, in a tub, standing up, with an epidural, without any medication: it's entirely up to you. And while…
By Priscilla Blossom

What is the Golden Hour? Show me some gorgeous photos.

We talk about witnessing birth, but not so much about supporting it. Providing emotional or spiritual care after delivery is not on the obstetric checklist, and many mothers don't know what they are missing as pediatric staff bustle about cleaning…
By Brandi Johnson

What do I buy?

Behold, the list/registry thingy you’ve been waiting for.

The baby hasn’t stopped crying.

Yes, your baby could have colic, but don’t go there yet. There are lots of potential causes, some sworn-by techniques (the 5Ss, massage, and so on), and if you need to, you really can put the baby down on its back in a flat, safe place and walk away.

How often should it eat?

We’ve got a handy chart to give you a ballpark, but if your baby’s in a different groove, that’s okay. Lots of parents prefer feeding on demand to any sort of schedule.

Sleep: explain???

There are a LOT of different methods for getting your baby to sleep, and as many gurus. Pick what works for you, truly. These general guidelines from sleep coaches can help, and know two things: 1) There is no evidence that sleep training hurts babies; and 2) there is substantial evidence linking bed-sharing and stomach sleeping to higher infant mortality rates.

We’re going outside. Please help.

If it’s cold, you need to think about duration, layers, and coat safety (and if you’re breastfeeding, here’s how to nurse in the cold). If it’s hot, let’s talk UV protection (because you can’t do sunscreen yet), swim accoutrements, and The Beach.

Does this poop look normal?

Get ready for an infographic.

Has my milk come in?

When you're preparing for something as mentally and physically exhausting as labor and delivery, there are a few things that can pretty easily sneak right by you. I mean, a little oversight is understandable when you're focusing on how in the…
By Emily Westbrooks

What does the baby eat until it does?

Moments after I had been wheeled into the recovery room following a C-section, the nurse asked me if I'd like to try breastfeeding my baby. I nodded, but inside, I was totally confused. I had read that around day three of being postpartum, my milk…
By Samantha Darby

When does colostrum come in?

I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed, but before doing it, I couldn't imagine what nursing would actually be like. It seemed so foreign, and I was riddled with questions. Would I even be able to? Would I make enough milk? Then, minutes after my…
By Kate Miller

Can preemies even nurse?

Your due date is circled on the calendar and your newborn photoshoot is booked. You're putting the final touches on the nursery, and dreaming about what the first days of parenthood will look like. When you have your baby prematurely, these things…
By Caroline Hogeveen

Can I breastfeed in the NICU?

The benefits of breast milk are just beginning to be discovered. Experts know that the stuff is incredible for your baby's growing body, protecting them from illness, and helping them developmentally. It also has numerous benefits for nursing moms,…
By Olivia Youngs

Can I pump there?

Just down the hall from the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital Colorado you will find a the NICU milk lab. Children's Colorado is renowned, and so serious, that families from all over the Western United States move heaven and earth…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

What is the “football” hold? I didn’t play sports.

There’s no question that breastfeeding is a great experience for both mother and child. But no one ever said it’s an easy one. Although there are some new moms who have no trouble nursing, some have a tough time breastfeeding from the first time…
By Luisa Colón

What are the other breastfeeding positions?

After I gave birth to my first daughter, I was dead-set on breastfeeding. I had read up on the benefits, gone to birthing and breastfeeding classes, bought a few nursing bras, and one of those c-shaped pillows. I thought I was set. There was one…
By Olivia Youngs

Latching is SO painful. Is this normal?

The instructor of my breastfeeding class repeated the phrase, "if breastfeeding hurts, you're doing it wrong," like a mantra. I thought if I learned how to achieve a "perfect latch," breastfeeding would feel good. When it didn't, I felt like a…
By Steph Montgomery

When does it stop hurting?

While I was struggling to establish breastfeeding, my lovely OB-GYN called to tell me about a patient who ran triathalons, Ironmans, marathons — you name it. She was one tough cookie, who, unsurprisingly, rocked her birth. But when it came time to…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

My nipples are on fire. How do I fix this?

Whether you breastfeed for three months or three years, chances are you'll experience some kind of nipple discomfort during your breastfeeding journey. With practice and proper latch, the pain should subside after at most a few weeks. In some cases,…
By Olivia Youngs

DIY methods?

When you're a breastfeeding mom, nipple pain is bound to happen at some point in your journey. For many moms, the pain is most prevalent when they first begin breastfeeding. That being said, it's also very common to experience nipple pain or…
By Tessa Shull

How do I get my baby to latch like the pictures?

Breastfeeding isn't all sunshine and roses. For lack of a better (less literal) word, sometimes it sucks. If you're experiencing breastfeeding pain, chances are that something can be tweaked to solve the issue, so that it isn't horrible forever.…
By Olivia Youngs

How do I make my baby’s mouth open wider? It’s like a snapping turtle.)

There are many reasons moms experience pain when breastfeeding, and a shallow or poor latch is the leading cause. When your baby's latch isn't deep enough, it can cause sore, dry nipples, engorgment, underfeeding and more, which is why getting a…
By Olivia Youngs

Do I need a lactation consultant?

Breastfeeding is a personal decision for all new mothers, and one that can be made before or after the baby is born. New moms that desire to breastfeed might have questions like, "will I produce enough milk," "will it come easily," "what if my baby…
By Sarah Hosseini

Could my baby be tongue tied?

Sunny was born screaming. “Hey baby, hey baby,” I cooed at him. He still screamed, squishy newborn face screwed up, tiny mouth open. I rocked and jiggled him a little. “Baby, baby,” I said. Neither of my other sons had screamed like Sunny. They’d…
By Elizabeth Broadbent

Who diagnoses that?

Breastfeeding is hard enough when your baby has a perfect latch and there are no issues. If you notice your baby is struggling and think that they might have a tongue or lip tie, it can make breastfeeding even tougher. But are you on your own or…
By Samantha Darby

Will fixing it hurt my baby?

A tongue-tie is a birth defect that can make it difficult for your baby to breastfeed, and may also cause speech problems down the line. For many, the tie resolves on its own. For others, a quick surgical procedure called a frenotomy may be…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Do nipple shields work? And for what?

You were there from the very beginning. I mean, within hours of meeting my new baby daughter, I met you as well. My nipples were terribly flat making it difficult to learn how to get my fresh, hungry babe to latch on and drink the colostrum that…
By Christie Drozdowski

How do I know if I need them?

There are a lot of tools of parenting that will help you get through sleepless nights and tantrums. Whether it's a beloved stuffed animal, iPad, or all the coffee, you'll be glad to have it on hand when you need it. During the early months of new…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Will nipple shields affect my supply?

As amazing as breastfeeding is, sometimes it doesn't go exactly how you may have planned it. If you are breastfeeding and have inverted nipples, you may find yourself being introduced to new strategies. Many women are told to use nipple shields, but…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

Do they work if I have flat or inverted nipples?

As amazing as breastfeeding is, sometimes it doesn't go exactly how you may have planned it. If you are breastfeeding and have inverted nipples, you may find yourself being introduced to new strategies. Many women are told to use nipple shields, but…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

How do I wean my baby off the shields?

If you're having trouble breastfeeding, it's possible your doctor or lactation consultant has recommended using a nipple shield. Although this tool will be helpful in the beginning, it's not meant to be a permanent fixture for long term…
By Autumn Jones

Is my baby eating enough?

Unfortunately, babies don't come with manuals. After my first baby was born I was told to feed her "on demand" and count her diapers. It all sounded pretty straightforward, until I was up all night nursing a crying baby. Later, I realized just how…
By Steph Montgomery

My kid won’t stop nursing. What’s going on?)

You and your newborn seem to have your nursing schedule down pat, and then out of the blue, your baby decides to change things up. All they want to do now is nurse every hour, and maybe even all night long. No need to worry, you are likely going…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

Can you over-nurse a baby?

Some mothers struggle with undersupply — others are pumping just to keep up with a Niagra Falls type flow. Whatever your situation, you want to give your baby the best possible nutrition, and you don't want to overstuff tiny tummies. But can you…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Tell me all of the hacks to increase supply.

As a new mom with undersupply, I was desperate to make breastfeeding work. I hired lactation consultants, read everything I could about breastfeeding, and scoured the internet for ideas. I tried so many methods to increase my milk supply, and made…
By Steph Montgomery

Does eating certain foods really help?

By now, you know all about pregnancy food restrictions and are unlikely to see any moms-to-be downing shots of tequila or tucking into a platter of sushi. But what happens once the baby arrives and you’re ready to start breastfeeding? You’re still…
By Lindsay E. Mack

What about the teas, supplements, prescription meds…?

For new mamas, especially those who are trying their hardest to make breastfeeding work, there can be a lot of concern over milk supply. Are you producing enough to keep your newborn happy, healthy, and gaining weight? Are you doing it right? Should…
By Lauren Schumacker

Milk is everywhere. *whispers* How do I make less?

A lot of breastfeeding moms worry if they're producing enough milk. And for those moms who struggle with supply, it might sound ungrateful of me to complain about having too much milk. I do feel lucky that I've never worried that my baby was getting…
By Olivia Hinebaugh

Actually, can we talk about this? Am I the only one?

There were times when I was breastfeeding that I felt like I should change my name to Bessie and start eating hay. I had no idea before I started breastfeeding that I would be producing enough milk to power a cheese factory, but there I was.…
By Cat Bowen

Why am I making so much milk?

Most breastfeeding moms worry that they won't be able to produce enough milk for their baby. But having more than enough milk? Wouldn't that be the opposite of a problem? Not exactly. Some mothers have what is called an oversupply of breast milk,…
By Olivia Youngs

Are my boobs producing different amounts?

I don't know about you, but my breasts are not 100 percent symmetrical — my left breast is a bit bigger. When I was breastfeeding, this size difference was magnified by my milk. I wondered if it was oversupply. If so, why do I have oversupply in…
By Cat Bowen

What should I do with all of the extra milk?

The benefits of breast milk are just beginning to be discovered. Experts know that the stuff is incredible for your baby's growing body, protecting them from illness, and helping them developmentally. It also has numerous benefits for nursing moms,…
By Olivia Youngs

How do I unclog a milk duct? (Sexy.)

If you're planning on breastfeeding your baby, then you already know how much research there is out there. From pumps, to bottles, to latches and tongue ties, to knowing your rights about breastfeeding in public and the workplace, it's a lot more in…
By Samantha Darby

How do I “massage it out”?

Once you get the hang of breastfeeding, it's easy to assume things will be smooth sailing — that is, until one day when your baby latches and it hurts like hell. It's not uncommon to experience pain while breastfeeding and its causes are varied,…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Seriously, feed on my hands and knees?

One of the scariest and most painful things about breastfeeding is the chance of developing a clogged milk duct. When I started breastfeeding my first daughter I remember doing everything in my power to make sure that nothing got plugged and the…
By Olivia Youngs

What is mastitis? I think I have it.

Last Christmas, not only did my eldest daughter come down with pink eye but I was hit hard by mastitis. It was a holiday to remember, and by that I mean, a complete disaster. But until that dreaded day, I didn't know much about mastitis, let alone…
By Kate Miller

How do I keep it from coming back?

Despite being dubbed natural, breastfeeding is rarely easy. Prior to giving birth, many moms aren't aware of the issues that can arise. Mastitis, an uncomfortable inflammation of the milk ducts, is one of those annoying issues and can become so…
By Olivia Youngs

Are breast pumps covered by insurance?

If you're planning to breastfeed your baby, there's a lot you'll need. A quiet space to nurse, a nursing pillow for those early days, and a lot of patience in the beginning. You've probably already started looking at breast pumps, but you might not…
By Amanda Mushro

How do you actually use a breast pump?

Much like learning to breastfeed, using a breast pump is something that takes patience and time to fall into a setting or routine that works best. Although many lactation consultants suggest sticking to a routine to get milk flowing consistently,…
By Tessa Shull

How do I clean this thing?

In the hustle and bustle of mom life, it can be easy to neglect one of the most important pieces of equipment in your #momlife arsenal — the breast pump. And with great pumps comes great responsibility. (That's how the saying goes right?) If your…
By Olivia Youngs

What’s the best bra for pumping?

After the birth of my first baby, I quickly learned that my regular bras, pretty as they were, weren't going to cut it anymore now that my boobs had turned into milk machines. My new bras for nursing and pumping came with all sorts of flaps, straps,…
By Kate Johnson

What do I do while I’m sitting here?

I breastfed, I formula fed, and I pumped during my daughter's first year of life. And while they all have their pros and cons, my least favorite was by far pumping. If you're a mom who has ever been hooked up to a breast pump, you're totally nodding…
By Samantha Darby

Anything else I should know about pumping?

I'll admit, prior to breastfeeding I could've filled a library with things I didn't know. It's hard to imagine the physical sensations and the sacrifices and even the guilt most (if not all) moms feel when breastfeeding. However, what I absolutely…
By Fiona Tapp

What is “power pumping”?

As a mom with undersupply caused by insufficient glandular tissue, I was desperate to do anything to increase my supply. I took herbal supplements, an unsafe prescription medication, triple-fed (nurse, pump, supplement, repeat) my baby all day long,…
By Steph Montgomery

What is combo feeding?

I always planned on breastfeeding my babies. Exclusively. Like most moms, I thought "breast was best" and even "one bottle" of formula would ruin my chances of nursing. When I had my first baby, and didn't make enough breast milk, I switched to…
By Steph Montgomery

Does it affect breastfeeding?

To say I never planned to formula-feed my babies is a huge understatement. As a new mom I was adamant that they never receive even a drop of formula. I planned to exclusively breastfeed, wean them when they were ready, and avoid formula altogether.…
By Steph Montgomery

Is nipple confusion real?

Breastfeeding is a huge time commitment for new moms who are already exhausted. It's totally normal for newborns to want to eat as often as 12 times a day, which naturally leads to sleep deprivation. It's tempting to give yourself a little break by…
By Kristina Johnson

Poop, bleeding, sitting: talk to me.

No matter how you give birth, you will bleed like someone has died. This is normal. Your first post-partum poop could hurt. This is also normal, so talk to your doctor about stool softeners. As for your painful rear, these homemade pads layered with Tuck’s hemorrhoid pads are Romper's best kept secret. Make ‘em when you’re nesting. Baby socks don’t need to be ironed.

What shows should I marathon?

The Great British Baking Show. After that, anything else British. The accent is just so soothing.

I want to lose weight and have many feelings about this.

Postpartum body image is a minefield for almost everyone — our entire societal mindset around what a woman should look like post-baby is, to be frank, effed up. If you want to lose weight, do your thing. If you don’t, don’t. It is really really really no one else’s business, and now is not the time to consider what sort of feminist it makes you.

When will I feel like having sex?

When you feel like it, when your partner feels like it, and when your doctor says you are A-OK are very different things. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready; there are other ways to show love. And if you’re ready but your body isn’t cooperating, you deserve care. Basically at all points, you deserve care.

My parents/in-laws are the worst.

It’s remarkable how your first weeks with your baby can become the previous generation’s first weeks of showing what hapless, controlling, absent, or just strange grandparents they intend to be. “I’m in pain and need some alone time” is a totally valid way to kick anyone out.

Where is the affordable, trustworthy childcare?

Hard to find, unfortunately. If you’re lucky enough to have maternity leave, this is what you’ll be researching while you watch The Great British Baking Show. No other activity will reduce your future stress by even a fraction as much.

Am I supposed to know how to do this?

Baby Blaise Broadbent was born after three days of labor, three hours of pushing, and a whole lot of worry. They dropped him on my stomach before I was ready: one minute, I was pushing, and the next minute, there was a baby. “He looks like my dad,”…
By Elizabeth Broadbent

How long does it take to bond? I don’t feel it yet.

New motherhood should be a time of bliss and bonding. Of days spent ignoring the laundry because you’re cuddling with a newborn. But for some moms, especially those dealing with health complications or feeding problems, the ideal of cozy,…
By Risa Kerslake

I am so tired already. How do people function?

Being tired is a completely normal part of parenthood, but many moms are taken aback by the intensity of exhaustion during the "new mom" phase. Sleep deprivation takes its toll on your body, but just how are new moms affected by sleep loss? Studies…
By Olivia Youngs

I don’t feel like myself.

It’s a truth universally known that millennials are having the toughest time “adulting” of all the generations in modern memory. With the highest instances of depression and anxiety at work of any modern generation, per Bloomberg, you’d think…
By Michele Perez

What is postpartum anxiety?

As a first-time mom there were countless times that I spent my nights researching potential risks, activities, places or situations that could bring harm to my daughter. An outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease meant we stayed away from the splash…
By Ambrosia Brody

What are some signs of postpartum depression?

Two days after I came home from the hospital with my newborn daughter, I found myself sobbing in bed and cradling her to my chest. I couldn’t explain to anyone why I was so upset or what was happening. There was only one word that can convey what I…
By Samantha Darby

Is there a word for your whole life changing with one push and no one thinking that’s a big deal?

When you're pregnant, your doctor, your friends, and your family all tend to treat your due date as the finish line. Getting the baby out is the shared goal, and, once babies are born, their mothers are almost forgotten. "There is this energy shift…
By Gianluca Russo

I'm scared to go back.

It’s 7:00 p.m. and I am seated on the floor with my 10-month-old son, trying to prevent him from destroying a copy of Madeleine and the Gypsies while I interview a sexual assault survivor for a story. I’ve been trying to get this interview for…
By EJ Dickson

I have to/want to go back, but I feel guilty.

Ask any U.S. mom why she decided to return to work, or stay at home, and I guarantee she has an Excel file tabulating the income versus child-care tradeoff, and a mental ledger of concerns about career momentum versus "quality time while they're…
By Ambrosia Brody

What are some tips for pumping at work?

Anyone that's pumping or considering it knows that there are often many logistics to consider. Where am I going to pump? What attire will be best for pumping? Do I have all of my pump parts? The checklist for pumping can be quite exhaustive and make…
By Sarah Hosseini

How do I talk to my job about better breastfeeding accommodations?

Just talking to your boss about taking a day off can make you hesitant, but if you are breastfeeding, talking to your employer about their policies can be even more stressful. Where do you even begin? It's important that you know how to talk to your…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

How do I get over my separation anxiety?

In the time before I became a mother myself, I met a lot of clingy kids. As a babysitter and then a nanny for over a decade, it wasn't unusual for me to spend my time with a child sobbing over their absent parents — seemingly convinced that their…
By Marie Southard Ospina

Will it ever be like before?

There is no denying it, childbirth can take a toll on the human body. It doesn't matter how calm you make the labor room, how many childbirth classes you've attended, or how many births you've experienced previously, the fact that a living being is…
By Fiona Tapp

My body doesn't feel like mine anymore.

When my eldest daughter was born in 2016, I kind of shocked myself. I had been told countless times that pregnancy and motherhood would change my relationships, particularly my relationship with myself. I was warned about the seemingly inevitable…
By Marie Southard Ospina

How long until my stomach goes down?

After nine months of stretching and growing to accommodate another human, your stomach is understandably larger than you're used to. And though you will lose a certain amount of your baby belly after you've given birth, you're probably wondering,…
By Meg Kehoe

Is my vagina broken — for good?

Before my daughter was even born, messages around the need to "fix" my body postpartum, to undo the damage, had already begun to sail in from every direction. YouTube videos promised to strengthen my sagging body, Instagram recommended post-baby…
By Marie Southard Ospina

Seriously, what’s the recovery timeline down there?

Moms-to-be feel so much excitement and anticipation as they await the birth of their child. But even though pregnancy is a time of joy, it can also be a time of anxiety and fear. Childbirth is no walk in the park, and it's only natural to be nervous…
By Kristina Johnson

What can I do to help the *situation*?

No matter how much I read or what I was taught in my prenatal classes, I was in no way prepared for the kind of care my private parts would require after childbirth. Yes, I was aware that there would be blood and tenderness, and they may even need…
By Yvette Manes

What are the signs of a real birth injury?

Those first few times having sex after a baby were brutal, and that was even with me having a C-section. It's not something we talk much about, but postpartum issues with your pelvic floor are relatively common. Pregnancy had messed up my pelvic…
By Risa Kerslake

I know I’m not supposed to care, but when and how do I lose the weight?

Let’s face it, “body after baby” is a topic on most moms minds. We’re constantly bombarded by images of celebs’ post-baby bodies and articles about how fast they bounced back, how quickly they return to the gym, and how easy it is for them to work,…
By Sara Lindberg

Does breastfeeding really help?

You can’t get through a supermarket check-out line without seeing the newest celebrity mom’s fab post-baby bod, as if the ability to shrink your uterus and shed excess fat is more miraculous than the human you produced from your body. And although…
By Michelle Horton

What do I wear to work now?

I still remember how excited I was when it came in the mail. I pulled the package apart, eager to try it on. I was pregnant at the time, and I knew that as my bump grew and grew, it would make me look great and feel great. After I gave birth and…
By Allison Cooper

What are some jeans that will look good?

Let’s be very, very honest about this — pregnancy and childbirth change your body. Regardless of what tabloid headlines about celebrities’ post-baby bodies and Instagram #fitspo posts might tell you, the reality is that your body’s going to look and…
By Beth Loster

What if I have to go to a party?

Holiday parties aren't quite the same right after you've had a baby. Although you've got more responsibility, you're exhausted, and your body probably doesn't feel the same as it used to, the postpartum period shouldn't stop you from feeling your…
By Olivia Youngs

Is there some huge cardigan I can just cocoon myself in for the next 6 months?

During the early stages of my pregnancy, I made a trip with my husband to the Gap in downtown Chicago. Inside that huge, multi-level Gap store, I found a sweater on sale that I immediately knew I had to have. It was expensive — about $40, even…
By Kelly Green

Am I the only one who feels guilty for everything?

Mom guilt. We've all felt it, know it, and resent it. It's the burden all mamas bear that we just can’t fully shake. Maybe it’s the years of shaming mothers for every little choice or mistake they made. Maybe it’s a remnant of days past when mothers…
By Priscilla Blossom

It's my mother's fault, isn't it.

If you're a working mom who feels guilty about the amount of time you spend away from your kids, there might be something more than just a busy workload at play: according to a new study, working moms' guilt can often come from their childhood…
By Kenza Moller

I'm staying home with my baby. Why do I STILL feel guilty?

In Fear of Flying, Erica Jong said, “Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty and I’ll show you a man.” While we can argue whether women themselves are entirely, or even predominantly, responsible for constantly feeling guilty, I see so much truth in…
By Jamie Kenney

Is life 24-7 self sacrifice from now on?

You’re pregnant; maybe you’re in the first trimester. Maybe the second trimester. Perhaps your due date is any minute. Or maybe you’re adopting and in the midst of home visits or paperwork. You’re probably scared, excited. Worried. Everything in…
By Julie Sachs

My partner is not doing enough.

The first year of parenthood tends to be way more work than most soon-to-be parents anticipate. No matter how intricate your pre-baby/post-baby planning — or how many in-depth conversations about roles, responsibilities, and expectations come to…
By Candace Ganger

What can my partner be doing while I breastfeed?

Breastfeeding occupies a weird place in our culture. We have the very clear messaging of "breast is best," which is problematic but at least highlights a woman's right to nurse her baby; a refreshing change after years of everyone, from doctors to…
By Jamie Kenney

Can I ask my partner to do things for me (not just the baby)?

I can admit it: I don’t think my partner got enough credit for his efforts as a new dad. I mean, certainly within our household and within our family, we all recognized how invested and involved he was. But when we went to appointments? When we ran…
By Dena Ogden

My partner is being really critical and controlling.

Oftentimes, people in emotionally abusive relationships don't recognize their situation as abuse because they're not being physically attacked. Many people believe that if there aren't physical signs of abuse, then it's not really abuse. But the…
By Sarah Hosseini

How do we prevent parenthood from tanking our relationship?

Moms-to-be are constantly told babies change everything, and although the sentiment can be annoying, it’s also true. New moms have to let their body recover, adjust to fluctuating hormones, and take care of a tiny human, all while maintaining some…
By Lindsay E. Mack

How I do to keep our sex life alive when I don’t want to have sex?

Having a child is, I suspect, never easy. At least it hasn't been easy in the six years I've had one, and I don't see that changing any time soon. But there is no year, I'd contend, quite as challenging as the first. It's not just the actual caring…
By Jamie Kenney

Am I already screwing up my kid?

Our resident advice-giver-outer Jenny True provides shouty, full-hearted answers to your niggling questions about pregnancy and parenthood in her column Dear Jenny. Warning: This is not a baby-and-me singalong, this is about yelling into the cosmos…
By Jenny True

Am I a bad mom for needing a break?

My plans for motherhood leaned towards the crunchy. I was going to give birth with minimal interventions, and then cloth-diaper, exclusively breastfeed, wear my baby as much as possible, and bedshare. I envisioned myself practicing quintessential…
By Beth Loster

When do I get a smile?

Your baby's first attempts at communication begin long before they can start speaking. Crying is the most obvious (and loudest) method of relaying information. But facial expressions can also communicate quite a bit, from good humor to outright…
By Lindsay E. Mack

Will this last forever? I’m over it but also hope it never ends?

The fourth trimester: the very term sounds counterintuitive. "Tri" means three. A tricycle has three wheels. King Triton's trident has three prongs. A school year is divided into three trimesters. You're pregnant for nine months (give or take), and…
By Kimmie Fink