There are already a lot of "experts" out there, who are in many cases, spot on in their knowledge of birth, babies and child rearing, but what I want to emphasize is the intelligence in other mothers' personal experiences which I hope to share as I learn alongside the thousands of others who look for answers each day.
It is somewhat overwhelming to think about all of the information sources there are from which to glean knowledge about raising children from. Your health care practitioners, your own mom, aunts, grandmothers, books, videos, the Internet (oooohh the Internet!), and a lot of this information is contradictory, confusing and sometimes, ridiculous.
My first bit of advice about information: Choose wisely.
When I was pregnant with Patrick, our first, I was crazy about books. I read so many baby books, and received recommendation upon recommendation for book after book that I just about died of information overload before the second trimester! Either that, or morning sickness.
Essentially, I scared myself by absorbing too much information from too many different sources without considering one essential ingredient to my motherhood journey: Me.
"There is no manual."
No two children are the same. Some like to be held forever and ever and ever, while others are happy just to let their little limbs flail. Some will take a pacifier, and some won't. Now, I'm learning that some one-year-olds get over it fast when mommy leaves, as long as there's other people around (Patrick), and some (like my Carter) have anxiety if another person tries to play with them in their mom's presence. Babies have temperaments just like we do, and it isn't determined by what kind of people the parents are, or by how much coffee you drank while you were pregnant.
We sometimes take a scientific approach to babies, with huge emphasis on predictability. We oversimplify and over-complicate at the same time. "If I do this + this + this, I should get a happy baby as a result." Then when we don't have success, we suddenly shift to our emotional side and think "I'm a terrible mother! I can't do this"
Truth be told. Some of it is trial and error - the scientific approach. But sometimes it's pure emotion. It's depending on your love for your child to tell you what to do. Moms - even new ones, have great instincts, and I think sometimes we need to get our noses out of the books, smell the roses and just enjoy our kids.