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New Mom Entourage

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A delivery-room nurse who isn't a sour witch: Don't like the nurse the hospital gave you? Ask for another. You'll spend countless hours with her in the hospital, and having a caring soul hovering nearby can make all the difference. “My favorite was the one who told me ‘take the pain pills; your vagina will thank you,’” says Pia Patrick, a mom of three in Dana Point, California. “Then there was the amazingly kind nurse who held my hands and let me cry when my second child was born prematurely and wasn't expected to live through the night. When my baby was able to come home two weeks later, that same nurse brought me a bottle of wine and said I should toast myself for being a good mom.” See? All the difference. If you want to hedge your bets, Douglas suggests bringing your own doula. She's like a nurse in that she's trained in childbirth, but since she's on your payroll her only concern is making sure you get the emotional and physical support you need.

The reassuring “it's totally normal” mom friend: She has kids of her own so she's read the parenting books and done all that tedious vaccine research. When she tells you not to worry, it's as good as Dr. Sears himself saying so. “She's the one who'll say, ‘Yes, it's normal for your nipples to shoot milk like they're water pistols,’” says Hallie Sawyer, a mom of three in Overland Park, Kansas. When you're fretting over something, the last place you want to look for answers is the Internet. (Unless you like getting all freaked out by worst-case scenarios.) Call this gal instead.

The trusted caregiver: As hard as this may be to fathom, there will come a day when you need to get out of the house solo — or perhaps to spend some time alone with your spouse — and you'll want this person waiting in the wings. If you're lucky, there are people in your ZIP code who share your DNA dying to fill this role.“The bonus with family is that you don't even have to pay these people,” adds Kirk Ostby, a dad to one in Lebanon, Indiana. “When you need an extra hour of sleep or the laundry done or just one hour alone with your thoughts or a night out with your spouse, these spoilers want to rush over and see their fresh, new (unspoiled) relative.” No family in town? Ask mom friends for referrals (but be careful; nobody likes a babysitter poacher), or hit up local preschools. They often have assistants eager to pick up extra work.

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