Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a manual full of real-life advice for first-time parents? You know, the advice new moms don’t find in the childbirth guides, but that’s gained through trial and error.

We asked a selection of moms – expecting couples who attended our childbirth classes, mothers who’ve delivered in our hospitals, nurses who work in our birth centers and doctors who deliver babies – to share some of their best real-life tips for welcoming a baby to the family.

“To this day, I remind myself that “Baby didn’t get to read the instruction manual to life.” My pediatrician passed that on to me and it has helped me stay calm and reassured. Our babies are learning just as much as we are as parents - but they don’t have the resources we do!”

– Shannon Stoffel
Attended childbirth education class at Lakeview Hospital
Mom to Elyse, 6 months

“I encourage my patients to take some kind of getaway or “babymoon” before the baby arrives. It’s going to be a big change and it’s much easier to go when it’s just the two of you (or with one child if you’re expecting your second, etc) than when there are more of you. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy trip – it could be to the North Shore in Minnesota or to visit family in Florida.”

Laura Dean, MD
Stillwater Medical Group OB-GYN
Mom of three

Photo by Donae Coton, Hudson

“I wish I would have known earlier how long it takes to get in your groove, especially with breastfeeding. It took me a good three months to feel comfortable with my first baby and I had no idea it could be so difficult to simply feed your own child. I stuck with it and was so thankful I did!”

– Jessie Cattoor
Delivered at Lakeview Hospital
Mom to Ellie, 6, Evalynn, 4, and Mabel, 18 months

“We loved our birthing class – utilize it. We also love the Parents Education and Support Group at Hudson Hospital & Clinic. You meet so many people and everyone’s experiencing the same thing and you can ask each other questions.”

– Amy Cowles
Delivered at Hudson Hospital & Clinic
Mom to baby Etta, 2.5 months

“Buy a mesh lingerie wash bag and use it to keep baby socks and nursing pads together when you wash them. No more lost socks! Also – use your resources. I was still calling the lactation consultant at the hospital with questions when my baby was 11.5 months. Use the people who can help you.”

– Breanna Gharitty
Delivered at Hudson Hospital & Clinic
Mom to baby Franklin, 4 months, and a toddler

“Get a few sets of baby clothes in several different sizes, because you don’t know what size your baby is going to be. I assumed our baby would be in 0-3 month-old clothes because all the babies in our family were really big. But our little one ended up being smaller and we had to go out and buy some newborn clothes for the first few weeks.”

– Megan Franklin
Delivered at Hudson Hospital & Clinic
Mom to baby Max, 11 weeks

“Don’t overpack your hospital bag; the hospital has pretty much everything you need. You just need some comfortable clothes and you’ll be good. I completely overpacked and had this huge duffle bag of stuff. Then it stressed me out trying to pack everything back in there to go home again.”

– Olivia Gavic
Delivered at Hudson Hospital & Clinic
Mom to baby Ruby, 11 week

“The baby is not the only one learning; you are, too. You are learning your baby just as much as they are learning to be out in the real world now.”

– Sara Wachsmuth
Delivered at Hudson Hospital & Clinic
Mom to baby Tenley, 4 months

“I had my daughter naturally and a lot of people told me, “You don’t get an award for doing it naturally – having an epidural is not showing you are weak.” But if you’re planning on getting an epidural, say so far enough in advance. With my second one, I waited until it was too late to ask.”

– Tara Lee
Delivered at Amery Hospital & Clinic
Mom to baby Grant, 11 months, and Chevelle, 8

“Psychologically speaking, potty training is far worse than childbirth.”

– Christine Novak
Birth Center registered nurse at Amery Hospital & Clinic
Mom to four kids, ages 1, 3, 4 and 6

“I wish I would have understood that I knew what was best for my baby. Well-meaning advice is just that – advice. Use what works for you and toss the rest out!”

– Bonnie Miers
Amery Hospital & Clinic Birth Center supervisor
Mom to a 17-year-old who was born at 32 weeks