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

By Gretchen Bossio

I Wish I Would've Been Induced

By Steph Montgomery

I Had My Dog With Me Through Labor

By Olivia Hinebaugh

I Gave Birth Surrounded By My Friends

By Mariah MacCarthy

Yep — I Pooped On The Table

By Ceilidhe Wynn

I Hated Trying For A Vaginal Delivery

By Megan Zander

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

By Yasmine Singh

I Loved Both My C-Sections

By Margaret e Jacobsen

Can I get an epidural anytime I want?

By Cat Bowen

When is the best time to get one?

By Caroline Hogeveen

Will it hurt?

By Jacqueline Burt Cote

What are the risks?

By Jacqueline Burt Cote

What about side effects?

By Cat Bowen

Will the epidural affect the baby?

By Elizabeth Helen Spencer

Do epidurals really slow down labor?

By Alana Romain

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

By Lindsay E. Mack

Why would anyone not get the drugs?

By Priscilla Blossom

Which interventions make it not a “natural” birth?

By Fiona Tapp

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

By Jamie Kenney

Is there any medical benefit to not having an epidural?

By Autumn Jones

It can wear off???

By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Is an epidural the only medication option?

By Sarah Bradley

What is nitrous oxide like?

By Lisa Daly Steffey

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

By Olivia Youngs

Do pressure points work?

By Shannon Evans

Can we talk about back labor?

By Caroline Hogeveen

What if I really want to do it without drugs?

By Priscilla Blossom

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

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?

By Emily Westbrooks

What does the baby eat until it does?

By Samantha Darby

When does colostrum come in?

By Kate Miller

Can preemies even nurse?

By Caroline Hogeveen

Can I breastfeed in the NICU?

By Olivia Youngs

Can I pump there?

By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

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

By Luisa Colón

What are the other breastfeeding positions?

By Olivia Youngs

Latching is SO painful. Is this normal?

By Steph Montgomery

When does it stop hurting?

By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

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

By Olivia Youngs

DIY methods?

By Tessa Shull

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

By Olivia Youngs

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

By Olivia Youngs

Do I need a lactation consultant?

By Sarah Hosseini

Could my baby be tongue tied?

By Elizabeth Broadbent

Who diagnoses that?

By Samantha Darby

Will fixing it hurt my baby?

By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Do nipple shields work? And for what?

By Christie Drozdowski

How do I know if I need them?

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Will nipple shields affect my supply?

By Mishal Ali Zafar

Do they work if I have flat or inverted nipples?

By Mishal Ali Zafar

How do I wean my baby off the shields?

By Autumn Jones

Is my baby eating enough?

By Steph Montgomery

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

By Mishal Ali Zafar

Can you over-nurse a baby?

By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Tell me all of the hacks to increase supply.

By Steph Montgomery

Does eating certain foods really help?

By Lindsay E. Mack

What about the teas, supplements, prescription meds…?

By Lauren Schumacker

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

By Olivia Hinebaugh

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

By Cat Bowen

Why am I making so much milk?

By Olivia Youngs

Are my boobs producing different amounts?

By Cat Bowen

What should I do with all of the extra milk?

By Olivia Youngs

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

By Samantha Darby

How do I “massage it out”?

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Seriously, feed on my hands and knees?

By Olivia Youngs

What is mastitis? I think I have it.

By Kate Miller

How do I keep it from coming back?

By Olivia Youngs

Are breast pumps covered by insurance?

By Amanda Mushro

How do you actually use a breast pump?

By Tessa Shull

How do I clean this thing?

By Olivia Youngs

What’s the best bra for pumping?

By Kate Johnson

What do I do while I’m sitting here?

By Samantha Darby

Anything else I should know about pumping?

By Fiona Tapp

What is “power pumping”?

By Steph Montgomery

What is combo feeding?

By Steph Montgomery

Does it affect breastfeeding?

By Steph Montgomery

Is nipple confusion real?

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?

By Elizabeth Broadbent

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

By Risa Kerslake

I am so tired already. How do people function?

By Olivia Youngs

I don’t feel like myself.

By Michele Perez

What is postpartum anxiety?

By Ambrosia Brody

What are some signs of postpartum depression?

By Samantha Darby

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

By Gianluca Russo

I'm scared to go back.

By Ej Dickson

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

By Ambrosia Brody

What are some tips for pumping at work?

By Sarah Hosseini

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

By Mishal Ali Zafar

How do I get over my separation anxiety?

By Marie Southard Ospina

Will it ever be like before?

By Fiona Tapp

My body doesn't feel like mine anymore.

By Marie Southard Ospina

How long until my stomach goes down?

By Meg Kehoe

Is my vagina broken — for good?

By Marie Southard Ospina

Seriously, what’s the recovery timeline down there?

By Kristina Johnson

What can I do to help the *situation*?

By Yvette Manes

What are the signs of a real birth injury?

By Risa Kerslake

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

By Sara Lindberg

Does breastfeeding really help?

By Michelle Horton

What do I wear to work now?

By Allison Cooper

What are some jeans that will look good?

By Beth Loster

What if I have to go to a party?

By Olivia Youngs

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

By Kelly Green

Am I the only one who feels guilty for everything?

By Priscilla Blossom

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

By Kenza Moller

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

By Jamie Kenney

Is life 24-7 self sacrifice from now on?

By Julie Sachs

My partner is not doing enough.

By Candace Ganger

What can my partner be doing while I breastfeed?

By Jamie Kenney

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

By Dena Ogden

My partner is being really critical and controlling.

By Sarah Hosseini

How do we prevent parenthood from tanking our relationship?

By Lindsay E. Mack

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

By Jamie Kenney

Am I already screwing up my kid?

By Jenny True

Am I a bad mom for needing a break?

By Beth Loster

When do I get a smile?

By Lindsay E. Mack

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

By Kimmie Fink