Things Real Women Wish They Knew Before They Had Kids

You’ve got approximately nine months to get ready for it, but no matter how many books you read or baby birthday parties you attend, nothing (we repeat, nothing) prepares you for what it feels like to actually become a mom. So we asked 17 real moms to share what they wish they knew before having kids.

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“I wish I’d known that being an excellent dog parent doesn’t really prepare you for the real thing.” — Deborah K., Massachusetts

maternity leave things moms wish they knew

"I wish I'd known to ask for what you want at work. You are a valuable employee and you'll be surprised how much companies are willing to entertain. You're not only doing it for yourself, but for all the young women following in your footsteps." — Chrissy M., Massachusetts

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“I wish I knew that our lives weren’t over when we had kids. So often people think you can’t travel or do all the activities and things you like to do, but that’s not true at all. It’s up to you to make time for your passions and interests instead of revolving your life around your children. It’s even more important once you have kids to have date nights and show the value of marriage, as well as model behavior of being well-rounded in life so that your kids grow up trying to do the same.” — Christine K., New York

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“I wish I knew I’d be just as in love with my second child as I was with the first. I remember being pregnant with my second and being afraid that nothing could match the love I had for my first. As soon as that baby came out, I wondered why I ever worried about it!” — Carin K., Connecticut

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“I wish I had known that there are so many expressions in the English language that are confusing to toddlers. I was just making pasta with one and told her to ‘Hit it!’ as in ‘Start rolling the pasta!’ Instead, she started slapping the pasta machine.” — Stephanie D., Washington, D.C.

pregnancy real moms wish they knew

“I wish I had known that having a perfectly normal pregnancy doesn’t mean you will end up with a perfectly simple childbirth experience. You may even end up with an emergency C-section! Just knowing that it’s a possibility is a great way to prepare yourself mentally.” — Tonya M., Massachusetts

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“I wish I had known that breastfeeding is hard, but there are so many things you can do besides jumping to a bottle in the first few days to prevent bottle preference and nurture that breastfeeding relationship (like spoon feeding, cup feeding or syringes).” — Calista T., Texas

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“I wish I had known that during the toddler stage, you’ll probably answer the question ‘Why?’ 800 billion times.” — Carolyn T., Tennessee

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“I was amazed at how, as a mother, you will continue to surprise yourself at the amount of things you can do with one hand on one hour of sleep. I also seriously underestimated how fast kids grow. Put them in the new outfits people give you ASAP, because, next week they won’t fit!” — Erin G., Illinois

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“I wish I had known that if you choose to breastfeed, it will occupy between six to eight hours of each day…for an entire year. Whether you’re waking up earlier to pump before work, excusing yourself twice a day to pump during your workday, washing bottles and pump pieces, labeling milk bags or just actually nursing, it takes a lot of time. I was also amazed at how, no matter what, this time-suck burden was mostly mine and no matter how much my husband did to help tip the scale of gender equality, at the end of the day, this is really a place where gender equality is not possible.” — Kate W., Massachusetts

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“I wish I had known that your baby becomes everyone’s business. Don’t get annoyed or frustrated, just laugh to yourself and write whatever was said down somewhere so you can go back and read all the batsh** crazy advice and comments that everyone from total strangers to family members said to you. That, and you can pick and choose what advice you want to take. Every mama is different and every baby is different.” — Gabrielle H., Massachusetts

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“I wish I had known that the hormones can be uncontrollable and take a few weeks to stabilize. Right after birth, for a few weeks, every day around 6 p.m., I would cry and I had no idea why. Maybe the anxiety of not knowing what nighttime would hold. (For example, would I be up every hour or would he sleep through the night?) After a few weeks—and some acupuncture—my hormones and emotions were back to normal. It was helpful at the time to know some other friends who had a similar experience.” — Gillian G., Hong Kong

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“I wish I’d known before pushing out a 9.6 pound baby that there is such a thing as vaginal physical therapy and, yes, you will need it, so book your appointment now.” — Amanda M., Connecticut

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“I wish I had known that no two babies are alike. I used to think that was just referring to babies with different parents. I had and still have different experiences with my two girls on everything from breastfeeding to pacifiers to preferred bottles and blankets. I really thought I had it all figured out with number two based on number one’s preferences. She proved me very wrong.” — Randi D., Florida

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“I wish I had known that we all only have 24 hours in the day. No matter how much money, help, privilege or struggle any one of us has, we can’t get more time. And ‘having it all’—being a great mom, having a great career, taking care of yourself and keeping your social life together (including your core foundation, your marriage)—is really, really hard with only 24 hours per day. Thinking about how you want to live your best life, not anyone else’s, becomes really important.” — Donna T., Nevada

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“I wish I had known that it’s OK not to love every minute. Parenting is hard! Be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission not to be perfect. You are the perfect parent for your kid. One of the best sayings I’ve heard is, ‘The days go slow, but the years go fast.’ — Kristen F., Maine

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“I wish I’d known that you’ll have to hold them. A lot.” — Dana D., California

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Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
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