The rule-bending friend: You don't necessarily want to follow her every example, but having a pal who isn't afraid to do it her way will make you feel infinitely better about your own approach. “A big part of motherhood is learning to wade through the mountains of advice coming your way and to figure out what makes sense for you and your baby,” Douglas says. “This friend has figured out who she needs to listen to: The voice in her own head.”
The Friend who's a kick-ass cook: Until you try to whip up something edible with a newborn in one arm, you will never be able to truly appreciate the joy of a hot, delivered home meal. “If this friend is truly brilliant, she'll schedule all of your other friends to drop off meals too,” Douglas says. You can help her get started by registering at a free site like mealtrain.com. Instead of being pummeled with hundreds of “reply all” e-mails, friends and family log on to see what you like, what you've already had and when the best delivery times are.
The bouncer: Anyone who doesn't fit one of the profiles of helpful people described here must be banned from your hospital room/home/Facebook page for the duration — and you need a strong-willed (and strong-armed) pal who's up to the task. “When my twins were born, there were 18 people at the hospital, and I told them all to get out,” recalls Vicky Moss, a mom of four in Tustin, California. “I hurt a few feelings and learned a valuable lesson. If a friend or relative chases them away instead, that person is just being protective, not ungrateful. When you get home from the hospital, this person can take calls, answer the door and help hide you from the masses of overzealous neighbors and friends who can't wait to help.”