1. Call the baby by the wrong name. Guilty. I’ve done it. My mom friend handled it well, but talk about embarrassing.

2. Ask if she can cover up while nursing. Breastfeeding is one of the most patience depleting, emotional wrecking balls New Mom will ever face. If she covers up on her own, more power to her. If she whips her boob out to feed her new baby and you’re uncomfortable, dismiss yourself to the kitchen and start loading the dishwasher.

3. Show up unannounced. Call or text first and ask. Aside from being sleep-deprived, exhausted, and sore, there’s a good chance New Mom is also half naked because why put the boobs away if baby is just going to want them again in five minutes?

4. Tell her to sleep when the baby sleeps. Maybe it’s just me, but I hated this piece of advice. Sure, I’ll sleep once all 84 burp rags are washed and put away, my kitchen doesn’t look like a FEMA zone, and my legs don’t bare a not so vague resemblance to Bigfoot.

5. Offer to hold the baby so New Mom can clean her house or shower. You have it backwards. You should offer to do the dishes or make dinner or fold laundry while New Mom enjoys precious moments with her new bundle of joy.

6. Ask her if she’s disappointed she asked for the epidural, had to have a C-section, or anything else that went against her birth plan. Chances are she’s just thrilled that her new baby is home and in her arms. Don’t risk making her feel remorse for making decisions that brought her baby to her bosom.

7. Invite her to Zumba class. Or yoga, pilates, whatever. New Mom just had a new baby and exercising isn’t really in the cards for her right now. Once you have a child, your belly resembles the look and feel of bread dough for a while and, if she’s anything like me, she’ll enjoy a few weeks of playing with it like Play-Doh before concerning herself with getting tight abs in four days.

8. Tell her your perfect child stories. She probably doesn’t wanna hear about how your son slept a full eight hours the first week you were home from the hospital. She probably isn’t interested in how your kid never spit up or was taking Spanish classes at six months. New Mom most likely just wants someone to commiserate with her that this motherhood gig is both exhilarating and exhausting.

9. Stay for hours and hours. Be conscientious of her time and her desire to just bond with her baby. If she wants you to stay, she’ll tell you. If she wants you to leave, she may not. Don’t put her in that difficult spot.

10. Ask her if she’s getting any sleep. She’s not. Don’t bring it up.

This post was originally featured on Toni’s blog. Photo via

In 2001, I was a freshly-turned-twenty-one year old discharged from the hospital with a baby (my baby, I should add, in case you think I’m some kind of baby-stealer). Single-parenthood looming on the horizon, I’d moved back in with my parents, and now, having just expelled my firstborn from my uterus, I had no earthly idea what to do with him.

In a sense (despite all precipitating factors that, when lined up, make my life sound like a bad Country-Western song), it was fortunate. I hadn’t yet met The Internet, I had no mom-friends, and I only owned one book on child-rearing: Dr. Spock’s. I didn’t meet the Judgmental Parents Club until much later, and by that time, I knew enough to tune them out.

The first bit of advice I can give new parents is exactly what I took away from Dr. Spock: trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. I cannot imagine how hard it must be in the digital age; all of the information and judgement flying at you from all sides, but in the end, you need to trust that you know what’s best for your baby. Anyone who tells you that you’re doing it wrong can kiss off.

What took me nearly five years to learn is my second piece of advice for new parents, and it’s one that’s not often mentioned. Sure, you hear people say, “parenting is hard,” and other boring platitudes you can crochet on a pillow, but that’s not the whole picture. Parenting IS hard, that’s a given, but there’s no law that mandates you must love every second of it. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t love every moment, age, or stage. Be wary of anyone who tells you stuff like, “enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s over too soon,” because that is a recipe for needless guilt.

I suffered terrible antepartum and postpartum depression with the pregnancies and births of my last two children. There were days I was so miserable that I could barely get my ass out of bed. Having antepartum depression wasn’t a sign that I was a bad mother or that I didn’t want my baby: it just meant that pregnancy made me feel like crap. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not glowing while pregnant. The only time I had any sort of “glow” about me was after I’d vomited.

Make yourself aware of the signs of postpartum depression. The more you know and all that After School Special stuff. If you’re feeling low at any point, tell someone. Get help. Don’t be too proud to admit that you’re struggling.

Try to remember that you matter, too. It’s too easy to put the needs of everyone else before your own, especially when you have a new baby. Sometimes, yes, parenthood calls for this, but that doesn’t mean that you should neglect yourself. Eventually, that catches up to you. Not all of us have the luxury of having a live-in housekeeper, nanny or personal chef (I certainly don’t), but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a break to be myself now and again. You won’t win Mother (or Father) of the Year by neglecting yourself. I know. I’ve tried.

Celebrate the good times and the bad. Try to remember that the worst days always end. Relax. Tune out unnecessary noise. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re struggling and need help: no one can do it all.

And if all that fails, there’s always vodka. Or cheese fries. Or both.

Photo via.