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.

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.

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.