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Advice for New Moms: What I Didn't Have to Worry About

I'm Parenting Editor at SheKnows. I'm the co-author of Let's Panic About Babies(Macmillan, 2011). I've also written for numerous publications including Salon, Redbook, Nerve, and The Onion. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, son, tiny d...

Experienced moms dish on the (needless) worries that kept them up at night

Whether you’re about to be a new mom or you are one already, it’s likely you’re a little nervous. Parenting is a high-stakes affair. You come home with a helpless tiny being, and you’re expected to keep it alive. Whose idea was this? Honestly, if you weren’t the least bit worried there’d be something wrong with you. (Or you’re just unusually serene, and we want to know all your secrets.)

So, OK, fretting is normal, but we can say from experience that many of the concerns you have as a new mom will turn out to be for naught. It’s just the way things are.

Below are some examples from experienced moms of the kinds of things that kept them up at night. Please note that they can now, with some distance, look upon their former worries with affection and amusement. We wish the same for you.

"Keeping them alive: that seemed an impossible demand. I had no training! How was I going to figure out how do this wildly complicated, high-stakes job with absolutely no expertise? It was basically going to be, I thought, like being dropped into heart surgery and told to scrub up, except that the patient would be MY OWN BABY. And yet, I figured out. (For the record, I don't think that would happen with heart surgery.)" — Catherine

"TV consumption and sugar. I even remember giving my 1-year-old a marshmallow bunny on Easter and being racked with guilt over the sugar. Now my kid eats cake for breakfast. We vowed to not be TV people with our kids, but my son loves musicals and we have such great time as a family singing and dancing along. There is so much out there on how you're going to fuck up your kids. Mostly how everything in modern society is pretty much the worst. But then it turns out to be a much more mellow reality." — Lauren

"I feared dying in childbirth. I thought I would die and nobody would notice I was dying. Which isn't to say that childbirth was no biggie either time, but I didn't have that fear during the actual event. Too busy." — Tina

More: Top 20 Baby Necessities for New Moms

"I spent so many sleepless nights over our decision not to circumcise our third child (first boy). You'd think by the third kid I'd realize that nothing is gonna be as big a deal as you think it is going to be. I was concerned that I would not know how to clean his little baby uncut penis and that he'd end up in the hospital with a crud-clogged unit — 7.5 years in, the penis has been a nonissue. And if it becomes an issue from here on out, it's pretty much on him." — Carrie

"I worried about accidentally killing them by dropping them, or having them roll off the bed. (All three of my children rolled off the bed, one went headfirst over the railing in his crib.) They're freakishly resilient. One ate cat vomit. Survived. Another ate cat poop. Also survived. They've played in toilets. They've eaten mulch, which I'm pretty sure has manure in it. Survived. Super sturdy, these babies." — Michele

"I knew I was having a girl early on and I worried I wouldn't be able to love a girl. Because my mom has issues with girls. This did NOT end up being a problem. At all." — Lisa

"I've consistently worried about the wrong stuff through my son's entire life. But before he was born all my worries were based on the assumption that he was going to be a baby forever and guess what — that doesn't happen. I worried about creating the most pure, organic, toxin-free environment ever. I worried that we didn't have enough space in our 1-bedroom apartment. We didn't move out of it until my son was 12 and it was crowded but we lived." — Adriana

"When I imagined motherhood, I thought that I would hover around my child constantly worried about his physical welfare. But I rarely worry about that. I let him climb on high things, I let him fall down on his bike. I'm remarkably laid back about it." — Mariya

More: 9 Questions Never to Ask a New Mom

"I got pregnant when I was 18 and everyone played up the fact that I would get NO SLEEP EVER FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I was so prepared for not getting any sleep, and my son slept through the night at 6 weeks." — Cassie

"Twenty years ago I worried about having a baby in a same-sex relationship. My son will not admit to it EVER having been a problem with his peers." — Leann

"I was worried about being enough. I started my journey to becoming a mom as a single person — by my choice — and as much as I was ready and excited, there was fear. What if just me, just one mom, what if I'm not enough of a person for this new person? I gathered my tribe and I collected a village, but at the end of the day I would be it. If I screwed up something it was ALL on me. Almost eight years into this ride and I know I'm enough." — Dresden

"Despite my kid being a champion latcher, I couldn't make enough milk to 100 percent breastfeed him. I thought giving him formula was akin to giving him poison, and agonized over every bottle. I thought I was compromising his entire biological makeup, that he would be obese and dumb and sickly. I cried and cried and cried. My husband couldn't understand the issue — he kept saying, 'But it's food!' Now my kid is 9 and he's lean, healthy and smart enough, and rarely gets sick, and I realize that no one would ever guess he was mostly formula fed." — Anne

"I worried that my kids would be socially awkward/wouldn't get invited to parties/wouldn't have friends, etc. It hasn't been a problem, ever. And I realized that if I'd put a bunch of effort into it, I could have created exactly the problem I was afraid of." — Carol

More: 7 Tips for New Moms to Get Some Sleep

"I worried about the teen years. I have survived it twice this far and am living through a third bout. I've had good luck along with the bumps, but thank you Lord above, not the nightmares people warned me it would be." — Alexandra

"I worried about money. I worried about having enough support. I worried I would never work again doing something I loved. The wonderful, magical, heartbreaking, crazy thing is that all of these have been issues at some point. But there have been bigger things, harder transitions, tougher times and more quizzical questions than I could have ever designed in my worried mind. And I have handled all of those really well (so far). In fact, they've turned out to be some of my best mothering moments (so far). I don't know that the worries were not valid and they definitely have come to fruition, but they were not the defining times. They were not the big stuff." — Jessica

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