There are lots of things that scare me – spiders, snakes, my husband when he thinks it’s funny to jump out at me in a dark hallway in the middle of the night – but none of these admittedly scary things have anything on a post-partum nurse telling you you’re free to leave the hospital with your newborn child. I remember flashes of panic and my mind swimming in thoughts of “Are you sure? You do realize I have no idea what I’m doing, right? RIGHT!?”

Fret not my fearful friend for I am here to offer up some of my best tips and tricks from someone who has been there, done that, and made it out the other side relatively unscathed. Keep in mind that along with my advice you will get plenty of other advice, lots and lots of completely unsolicited advice. You will probably ask for none of it (hence the unsolicited part), but that won’t stop the lady behind you from saying that you’re probably doing it wrong.

Which brings me to my first tip: Take everything you hear with a grain of salt and always trust your instincts. Really, this is the best tip I can give you. There are many systems of belief when it comes to child rearing – from the ultra crunchy to the unschooled – and while there are pros and cons to each, nobody can tell you what is best for you and your family except for you. But when you do find yourself in these situations, it’s best to listen, because you never know when somebody will say something that strikes a chord…and some of the best lessons learned are what not to do.

Next tip: Don’t forget to eat. Yeah I know you’re wanting to get that baby weight off, but you’re no help to anyone if you’re Captain Grumpy Pants from lack of sleep AND lack of food. Did you know that the not-so-simple act of nursing burns up to 800 calories a day? That’s like an 8-mile run just for feeding your baby! My solution to keep hunger at bay while I was nursing was to keep easy snacks that could be accessed with one hand and eaten quietly – usually mini muffins or trail mix in a one-handed, easy open, container next to my preferred nursing spot.

Now for my most useful tip: Triple up! This really is the most “now why didn’t I think of that?” piece of advice ever, and at 3am you will be thanking me…no really, you will. Changing crib sheets has to be the most awkward and difficult parenting chore out there, especially when you’re half asleep and you’ve only got one hand to spare because the other hand is occupied with a crying baby. My solution was to always have more than one sheet (usually 3) on at a time, over each other. Then, in between each set, place a large disposable changing table liner to protect the next sheet in line. Next time you’re faced with a Picasso of poop, use one hand to pull up at a corner and peel off the old, revealing the new. Voila!

Lastly, it will get easier. It may not seem like it will when it’s 1am and your bundle of joy has been screaming since 8pm. But I promise it will get easier and you will make it out the other side. One day you will look back at these not-so-quiet moments with feelings of accomplishment, and you might even get the crazy idea to do it all again! I know it sounds insane right now, but trust me on this one. How do you think siblings were invented?

For more information on pregnancy and parenting visit WhatToExpect.com.

Nicole Yontz is a stay at home mom in Arizona, a contributing parenting writer for WhatToExpect.com, and a personal blogger at TheBetterHalfBlogs.com.

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