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Ace Mother-To-Mother Advice For First-Time Moms

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Zinzi Edmundson Photographed by Maria Del Rio

When you get pregnant, there’s all types of advice suddenly slung your way. And while we’ve previously covered how to deal with those unsolicited bits, we also think there’s something to be said for taking in the experiences of more seasoned mamas, which is why we often pose the question “What advice would you give to a woman about to have her first child?” to our profile subjects. Below, we’ve gathered some of our favorite responses from nearly 50 mamas. Take ’em or leave ’em, we think there’s some good stuff in here to reassure first-time moms-to-be, as well as current mothers further into the game.

Lawren Howell, stylist, and mother to two.
“Travel, go to movies, go out to eat, and then don’t complain about missing any of it when you have your baby.”

Kate Huling, founder of Marlow Goods, 7-time restaurateur, and mother to Elijah, 15, Beatrice, 10, Roman, 7, and Paloma, 4.
“The best piece of advice I’ve received is from Mona Kowalska from A Détacher, which is to be completely ourselves with our kids and to not put on any act. We all know that they would find out that we aren’t angels sooner or later, so it’s better they find out sooner.”

Megan Papay, co-founder of Freda Salvador, and mother to Piper, 8.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps and ask for help. Friends and family want to help you. Let them hold the baby for a bit and go take a nap!”

Maya Jankelowitz, Jack’s Wife Freda co-owner, and mother to Noam, 9, and Bennie, 5.
“I was so unprepared. I can definitely say that you should be aware and honest, and all you have to do is trust your instincts, and do your best. It’s a lot of work on yourself and your babies. But no one can really prepare you until you experience it for yourself.”

Kelly Harris, co-founder of Bash Please, and mother of Lucy, 3, and Coco, newborn.
“‘Change is the only constant.’ A dear friend shared that with me and it rings true in so many ways. Setting yourself up for the expectation of change is imperative to happy parenting.”

Katherine Kleveland, Doen designer, and mother to Wilder, 4, and Shepard, 3.
“Really listen to your own instincts and try to connect to whatever makes you feel confident as the parent of your child. One size does not fit all, and what works for others might not be right for you, so try to be in touch with your own ideas and observations of your own baby. Know that the world is a big stimulating place and that you can move slowly and allow your child space to connect to their own desire to explore the world.”

Ana Lerario Gellar, showroom owner, and mother to Luna, 5, Anis, 3, and Blanca, 1.
“Don’t feel bad if things are not going as you planned. Everyone is always talking about how incredible it is to be a mom, and how delicious newborns are (and it’s true). But nobody talks about that fact that you’ll also be a mess. You’ll be exhausted from the labor and in pain from the birth. If breastfeeding goes well, lucky you! Chances are that it will hurt more than labor itself. Every three hours! Then you have all the hormones making you feel up and down. It’s normal. It gets better.”

Jacqui Saldana, Baby Boy Bakery founder, and mother to Ryan, and Milla, 7 months.
“First, take tons of photos and video. Even if you think you’ve taken too many, take more! Second, take your children everywhere. Have them experience everything from day one. I swear Mila lives in her Solly Baby Wrap. I wear her everywhere and she is now used to going places. We have a good rhythm when in public, which I am proud of.”

Kendra Smoot, stylist, and mother to Stella, 9, Imogen, 4, and Truman, 1.
“Look for the positive in every day. There are, and should be, difficult days. But in the end try to find at least one moment of light each day. Also, follow your instincts. There is so much noise out there on how to do things, but I really believe you will know what is right for your kids.”

Joy Sunyoung Fitzgerald, illustrator and stylist, and mother to James, 2.
“Surround yourself with positive and encouraging voices. Don’t let the horror stories define your experience.”

Jenny Cooper, Crewcuts designer and mother of Walker, 14, and Miller, 11.
“Just breathe! And sleep when the baby sleeps. That was the best advice I got and once I started following it, some sanity returned. Also my pediatrician recommended always giving them a choice in everything and just make sure you are okay with both choices. That way they are part of the process and learning early to make choices. Oh, and do what you think is right, don’t listen to any books or people who think they know what is right for you and your child.”

Araks Yeramyan, designer, and mother to Aren, 8, and Khoren, 7.
“Take it easy. Let them be your guide. You are there to have them be the greatest of whatever they want to be. Don’t get in their way.”

Jenni Kayne, designer and retailer, and mother to Tanner and Ripley.
“Master the art of distraction! My girlfriend has 3 daughters, two of which are twins. I’ve always marveled at how she does it. She taught me that the trick is to distract—change the subject and make the conversation go in a positive direction.”

Krystle Wilson, model, and mother to Lukas, 3, and Lily, 4 months.
“You don’t need half the stuff they try to sell you and choose to breastfeed if you are able to.”

Justine D., DJ, cakemaker, and mother to Aoife, 3.
“Accept help from family members, hire help if need be. Breastfeeding is not as easy as they say, and it’s ok if you’re struggling. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to supplement with formula, and the last bit of advice—sleep when the baby sleeps. I neglected to do this and insisted on getting work done while Aoife napped, understandably I went a little insane from lack of sleep.”

Ulla Johnson, designer, and mother of Soren, Asher, and Agnes.
“Have fun.”

Jodie Patterson, DooBop and Georgia NYC founder, LGBTQ activist, and mother to Nain, 25, Georgia, 16, Cassius, 10, Penelope, 8, and Othello, 6.
“I would say have more kids, have many. Of course, you have to take into consideration finances and things like that, but you don’t need a lot of money to have a big family. It’s not a luxury to have multiple. Maybe that sounds like rich people talking, but I look at a pregnant woman and I can’t wait for her to get pregnant again, especially for the father. For the first child, men can opt out a little bit more, but once you have your second or third, they have to become more involved. I saw the growth in my husband’s parenting sky rocket as we had more children. We often parent for our own development. We try to parent in ways that might make up for things we didn’t receive. I think it’s really good for you. It’s a really eye-opening experience.”

Clare Vivier, designer, and mother to Oscar.
“‘They’re smarter than you think,’ [which is something my sister has said] referring to kids. She meant it as let them make their own mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be a helicopter parent.”

Sue Tsai, Nico Nico designer, and mother to Nico, 10.
“Be easy on yourself. Do the best that you can and don’t beat yourself up. Enjoy every moment of it! It really goes by fast!”

Kristen Crawley, KDIA founder, and mother to Don, 7.
“Take all the help you can get. Try to read as many books and watch as many movies as you can on baby’s first year and don’t forget that everyone has hard times, we just don’t talk about it–unfortunately!”

Jeanne Chan, co-founder of Harlow & Gray, and mother to Hayden, 5, and Hadley, 3.
“Life will be very different no matter how well you think you’ve planned it. You may have an ideal picture of how you want your family to be, but there is no prediction how your child will behave and what works or doesn’t work with your family. Be open and be flexible. Nothing will test your patience and marriage more than having kids.”

Erin McKenna, Erin McKenna’s Bakery founder, cookbook author, and mother to Halsey, 4, and Ford, 2.
“My not-so-welcomed advice is to sleep train your kids (I did with both my kids and really feel that a well-rested family is a game changer), but I know it’s very controversial! So, most often I just tell them what my sister Joanne said to me when I had a 3-week-old colick-y baby: ‘This is not forever, it does get better. You will make it to the other side.’”

Lauren Soloff, interior designer, and mother to Roman, 9.
“Try not to be attached to the outcome. You set out with such an idea of how motherhood is going to be and it’s nothing like that at all.”

Elisa Restrepo, Dieppa Restrepo co-founder, and mother to Lucía, 5, and Félix, 2.
“Trust your instincts, don’t be too hard on yourself, be patient, and try to roll with the punches. As a control freak, letting things get out of control and finding joy in those moments was a challenge for me.”

Christy Dawn Peterson, Christy Dawn founder, and mother to River, 2.
“Trust your instincts.”

Melia Marden, founder of The Smile, and mother to Alfred, 2.
“I could give endless advice, but everyone’s experience is so different and it doesn’t always apply. What was the biggest deal for me might be nothing for someone else and vice versa. I would say don’t buy any newborn clothes that don’t have easy diaper change access.”

Lisa Mayock, Monogram Studio co-founder, and mother to Lucien, 2, and a newborn baby boy.
“Spend your time exactly the way you want to, particularly when you’re pregnant. Be indulgent! Get massages and see matinee movies and wander aimlessly while listening to your favorite band and tuning out the world. You won’t get to do that again on a regular basis for a while.”

Cheri Messerli, creative and SAHM, and mother to Anouk, 2.
“Get lots of sleep before they are born.”

Margaret Kleveland, Doen co-founder, and mother to Julian, 1.
“Follow your instincts. You’ll know what your child needs. You made him/her, you have everything you need to meet their needs as a baby. When Julian was born I so strongly felt I already knew him, his movements, patterns. It’s all about being in observation of your kid and really taking the time to know him/her.”

Temi Adamolekun, Pembroke PR founder, and mother to Rayo, 3.
“Plan what you can and prepare for what you can’t.”

Jessie Baylin, musician, and mother of Violet, 3.
“When things feel tough, just remember it is temporary. The first 8 weeks of Violet’s life, I just had to repeat that as a mantra to myself so that I could survive some challenges I was having. I still use that and it gets me out of the hole.”

Angela Lindvall, model, and mother to Dakota, 14, and Sebastian, 11.
“Try and take a year off or work part-time if possible. Also, meditate and relieve stress, as that is the biggest energetic problem for both us and our children. Also, to trust that she will know what her child needs, not to worry.”

Carolyn Murphy, model, and mother to Dylan, 15.
“My advice would be not to over think it or read too many books. Women are the breadth of life, our bodies strong and well equipped. Doctors, religion, and the Western civilization have tried to make us otherwise, so feel empowered and try to make childbirth a celebration of your womanhood.”

Jodie Snyder, Dannijo co-founder, and mother to Margaux, 1.
“Try not to stress and enjoy every moment, because it goes by so fast. It’s true that your maternal instinct will kick in.”

Jessica Rastegar, OBGYN, and mother to Wolf, 2.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for or hire help! It’s exhausting giving birth and being a new mom and it is completely essential to have time to replenish yourself in order to be the best version of a mom you can be. That, and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t work out exactly as planned, whether in regards to your birth experience or breastfeeding or whatever you imagine a particular way.”

Jess Brown, designer and rag-doll maker, and mother of Stella, 18, and Tiger, 15.
“Find balance! Take time for yourself. Take time with your husband. I never did these things.”

Aelfie Oudghiri, Aelfie founder, and mother to Mirah, 1.
“Google the ‘crying curve.’ I really wish someone had given me a heads up about that.”

Beatrice Valenzuela, designer, Echo Park Craft Fair co-founder, and mother to Astrid, 7, and Dimitri, 2.
“Take care of yourself. Give a lot to yourself, so that you can give without resenting those you love the most.”

Michaele Simmering, Kalon Studios co-founder, and mother to Io, 10, and Echo, 7.
“Be honest about who you are to yourself and to your children. Children are amazingly adaptable and highly intuitive. I think the only thing that truly unsettles them is when their parents are stressed or trying to pretend something else is going on, other than what is.”

Heather Winn Bowman, textile designer, and mother to Lola, 2.
“Exercise! Yoga, swimming, running, whatever. I swam quite a bit, especially towards the end of my pregnancy, and did a little bit of yoga everyday, but I wish I had been better about exercise. I feel like if I had stayed in better shape while I was pregnant, the recovery after delivery would have been a little easier.”

Youngmi Mayer, Mission Chinese Food and Mission Cantina vet, and mother to Mino, 3.
“Do whatever you want and ignore everyone’s advice (including mine).”

Jen Garrido, artist, See Sun co-founder, and mother to Jemma, 5.
“Choose the people you want to listen to and ignore all of the other chatter regarding parenting, try not to compare yourself to others, be easy on yourself, and be sure to give lots of kisses, hugs, and tell your kids you love them lots of times a day.”

Fanny Gentle, artist, and mother to Oscar, 4, and Zelda, newborn.
“Take it easy and spend time with friends and loved ones.”

Erica Tanov, designer, and mother of Isabelle, 20, and Hugo, 14.
“Do what feels right to you, not what a book or ‘professionals’ tell you.”

Johanna St. Clair, Mollusk Surf Shop co-founder, and mother to Nina, 11.
“Lots of my friends are having their first baby now and they expect brilliant advice. But I have no idea what to tell them other than breastfeeding is hard and babies get diaper rashes. And talk to your baby and play with them. How to get enough sleep? I never figured it out.”

Karen Mordechai, Sunday Suppers founder, and mother to Sophia, 5.
“Follow your heart.”

Amanda Jane Jones, artist and graphic designer, and mother to Jane, 3, and Miles, 1.
“Someone told me not to follow other people’s advice and, honestly, it’s been helpful. I know my own child better than anyone and every child is different. I trust my gut and I think Jane is a happy baby because of it.”

Mara Hoffman, designer, and mother of Joaquin, 5.
“Hold on to your hat!”

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