Whether starting a family feels like a distant dream or you’re ready to dive full-force into being a mom, the thought of bringing new life to the world can feel overwhelming. And for good reason: Motherhood is a big — okay, really big — change. And although parenting a little one is likely one of the greatest responsibilities you will ever face, it can feel like there’s no real way to be fully prepared for what’s to come. That’s why taking time to heed the insight of moms who have walked the path before you is so important.

If you’re searching for some wisdom to carry with you as you transition into motherhood, look no further. We talked to 16 moms about the things they wish they had known before they got pregnant. Here’s what they had to say.

“I wish I’d known that it takes a heck of a lot longer than 4-6 weeks after childbirth for your body to feel like it’s yours again. And I wish I’d known that a pregnant body is beautiful and should be celebrated, no matter where or how much weight is put on. Also, that photos while pregnant are going to mean so much once your little one is in the outside world! I really wish I had more of them.” — Chelsey, Washington, DC

“That you’ll be scared way more often than you could imagine.” — Claire, New York, NY

“I wish people would have told me more, ‘It’s not a big deal, it all works out.’ Naps, breastfeeding, managing the chaos — it truly all works out.” — Megan, St. Paul, MN

“I wish I had known that you might not fall in love with your baby IMMEDIATELY, especially if the birth was difficult. It took me about three days to feel like, ‘Hey, you’re mine and I like you!’ and not like, ‘Did this baby really come out of me? Who are you? You’re cute, but I’m really tired and my body hurts.'” — Mackenzie, Seattle, WA

“I spent months crying and feeling awful because I thought it was normal with postpartum. It’s not. I wish I would have known to get help sooner after delivery instead of hating the time I had with my daughter in the nine months after she was born.” — Danielle, Hudson, WI

“Honestly, I just wish I would have known how hard pregnancy would be — and that the women who ‘glow’ and feel awesome are the minority.” — Kate, New Braunfels, TX

“I wish I had known that I would get used to it, that a rhythm and instinct would take over. And I wish I’d known that there is no way life is ‘supposed’ to be with kids. It feels different all the time.” — Kate, New York, NY

“Part of me wishes I’d known that morning sickness can actually be all-day sickness, which may result in your immediate and unglamorous departure from a city bus to yak on the street and take the walk of shame the remaining blocks into work. But the other part of me is thankful I wasn’t warned.” — Jessica, Minneapolis, MN

“I wish someone would have told me to throw all expectations out the window. Having a general plan for child birth and life with baby is good, but you can’t cling on to those plans and expectations. Each birthing experience and each baby is unique. Don’t compare yourself, your experience, or your baby to everyone else. Go with things as they come, grant yourself unending grace, and let your baby be themselves. They have their own unique personality from day one and it impacts everything they do!” — Jenna, Phoenix, AZ

“I wish someone had told me how parenting would affect my marriage. And I also never realized how much recognition I’d need for a day of keeping a kid alive without anyone noticing!” — Kat, Lubbock, TX

“That no, your milk may never really come in, that formula is an excellent source of nutrition, and that shame is the most toxic and wasteful emotion.” — Siobhan, New York, NY

“That it’s okay to be scared, incompetent, and confused. That all my aptitude as a go-getter wouldn’t serve me in motherhood. But that there’s growth and goodness in paying attention.” — Ashley, Ladera Ranch, CA

“First, that it’s really fun! Second, that you will find yourself in the losing of yourself. And third, that baby books are great guides but only YOU know what’s best for your baby. It’s okay to not take the advice.” — Lindsey, Omaha, NE

“That pregnancy is 10 months, not nine!” — Missy, Redding, CA

“I wish I had known all the possibilities of postpartum, like the possibility of painful physical recovery (such as scar tissue and hemorrhoids) and the postpartum depression side of things. I knew having a newborn would be hard; I just didn’t think my body would be so uncooperative!” — Jensine, San Francisco, CA

“I wish I had known how disconnected from my pre-pregnancy self I would feel for a while. I resented it at first, but now I’ve sort of reconnected my before and after and I feel like I know myself more fully.” — Kristi, Asheville, NC

What’s one piece of wisdom you wish you knew before you became a mom? Tell us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)