After nine months of waiting for bub to be born, you probably think you have a pretty good idea of what motherhood is going to be like. After all, you've talked to other mums, read Mother & Baby magazine and even browsed through an online forum or two. Then your little one arrives and, suddenly, everything you thought you knew goes out the window.

Here, readers share the top new-mum tips that got them through, with additional comments from an M&B expert on why they really work.

*"THIS TOO WILL PASS"*

“The best parenting advice I received was from my sister-in-law, who said, ‘When you have a baby you’ll have a bad hour every day, and a bad day every week.’ I certainly had some tough moments with Clara, who had terrible reflux, but thanks to this advice I knew it would pass.”

Tracy, 34, mum to Hannah, three, and Clara, six months

M&B expert, midwife Megan Baker, says: "This is a good mantra for new parents. Life changes from week to week when you’re caring for a new baby and, just when it all seems too much, the days start to get easier. And when it’s all going smoothly, another difficult phase will come along. But it never lasts, and it’s important to realise that every day is an opportunity for a fresh start."

*"TAKE TIME TO RECOVER"*

“When my mum told me not to underestimate the time it would take to recover after giving birth, I thought she meant physically. But I soon realised she meant emotionally, too. Not only was I not able to walk for some time because of the stitches, but my hormones were playing havoc with my psychological wellbeing. It probably took five months before I felt ‘normal’ again.”

Helen, 30, mum to Daisy, six months

Megan says: "This is sound advice. Since pregnancy lasts for nine months, it’s logical that you don’t recover from its effects immediately. The surge of hormones released at the moment of birth – when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus – is immense. Mums have to take as much time as they need to recover. It’s not a race, so try to relax."

*"CREATE A NIGHTTIME ROUTINE"*

“My mum suggested we set up a bedtime ritual as soon as possible, so Harry would learn to recognise the cues for going to sleep. When he was about six weeks old, I started giving him a bath followed by a bedtime feed in his room every night. I dimmed the lights to create a restful atmosphere, then settled him in his cot. After a few weeks, Harry started going to sleep much more easily.”

Angela, 44, mum to Harry, seven months

Megan says: "Babies like consistency, so if you find you’re both benefiting from a bedtime routine that includes a restful atmosphere and surroundings, then stick to it. Bear in mind that newborns don’t always respond to schedules for prolonged periods, so don’t be surprised if their habits change again in a few weeks or months."

*"USE YOUR INSTINCTS"*

“I’m an organised person who likes to have structure in my life, and expected my parenting style to be the same. I bought a copy of Gina Ford’sThe Contented Little Baby Book, which advises adopting a strict sleeping and feeding routine, but I didn’t get a chance to read it. Then my midwife suggested I forget about what the books say and just listen to what my baby wanted. Gradually I learned to follow my own instincts and be guided by Oliver.”

Natasha, 28, mum to Oliver, five months

Megan says: "That right from the start, every mother and baby relationship is a unique one. There are many excellent parenting books available for new mums and they can be helpful in providing useful tips and advice, but in the end they’re best used as a guide only. Setting a 24-hour schedule in the early weeks of your baby’s life is particularly difficult, so it’s often wise to simply focus on your baby’s needs as they arise at this time. As in Natasha and Oliver’s case, a daily routine will start to develop naturally as your baby grows."

*"PLAY WHITE NOISE"*

“When Ben was a newborn and became overtired, he would scream non-stop. A friend said white noise would help and it worked a treat. Every time we played preloaded white noise on the iPod dock, he would stop crying and settle quickly.”

Rachel, 30, mum to Ben, 15 months

Megan says: "This is a good way to distract a tired bub, but it’s always best to find out what is causing your baby to cry in the first place. It may be that he needs another feed or it’s time for a nappy change. If everything seems fine, then giving him a cuddle while you distract him with music and noise can be an effective way to help soothe him and calm him down."

*"KEEP VISITORS AT BAY"*

“I picked up my most valuable piece of advice from a magazine: avoid having too many visitors in the first week after birth. Those days are such a special bonding time for you and your baby.”

Lisa, 34, mum to Joshua, five months

Megan says: "In the early days, having friends over to visit can be exhausting. The best visitors stay for 10 minutes, bring a meal and take away a load of washing! Adjusting to a new baby can be overwhelming, so make this stage last for as long as you want."

*"LEARN TO RELAX"*

“My best advice came fromThe Food Of Loveby Kate Evans, who said when you’re about to start breastfeeding your newborn, take a deep breath, relax and tell yourself: ‘You can do this.’ When my nipples were sore and I felt tense, this helped me get through breastfeeding.”

Naomi, 37, mum to Evan, five months

Megan says: "It can take four to six weeks to establish breastfeeding, and it’s a skill that mother and baby have to learn together."

HE SAYS…

“Our early childhood nurse told us that when people came around to see the new baby, we had to forget about being hosts and tell them to make the tea and coffee. We were exhausted, so it was really good advice.”

David, 36, dad to Holly, two months

“My mother-in-law told me to always shave so I didn't scratch the baby when I kissed her.”

Nick, 33, dad to Chloe, 12 months

“Sleep whenever the babies do. It’s easier said than done, I know, but my mum suggested this early on and we definitely do it as much as possible.”

Brian, 30, dad to twins Sophie and Daniel, 18 months