The birth kit is ready. The bag is packed. You’ve picked a pediatrician and have highlighted important passages in your trusty copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. You’re ready to have this baby, right?

Most new Moms quickly discover that actually having the baby is the easy part. What happens next — caring for a new baby — is the hard part.

Two days postpartum is the worst time to realize that your support network is lacking. That’s when I discovered it, though, and I hope my experience can help you set up a great postpartum support network before the baby arrives!

The best bet for postpartum survival is to form friendships and ties with women you respect and whose parenting style you admire. If you’re not around Moms that much, a great place to start is La Leche League. Pregnant Moms should try to attend a full series of meetings in order to learn about breastfeeding and get the support that is so vital for breastfeeding success. Having a Leader’s phone number a couple of days after Mara’s birth would have saved me a week of cracked nipples.

Other Mom’s groups — such as MOMS Club or M.O.P.S. — are great resources for Moms-to-be as well as Moms with young children. Some local chapters even have a committee to bring meals to a new Mom for the first week or so following the baby’s birth, relieving the family of one major chore postpartum.

Cleaning house is what friends are for. Many Moms find that having a running list of things to do hanging on the fridge gives eager friends and relatives a task and takes the pressure off of them to care for other children, clean the house, run to the store, etc.

When that well-meaning friend says, “Is there anything I can do?”, point him towards your list and let him take his pick.

Planning for support before the baby arrives ensures that you will have a pleasant “baby-moon” and get your new journey into Motherhood off to a great start!