ON THE COVER: Kate Dimitrova and daughter Lydia, 1. Kate says motherhood has changed the way she views the world and caused her to slow down and appreciate being in the moment more often. She's also mom to 4-year-old Theodore.

While I don’t have any kids of my own, I like to think that I have more knowledge about pregnancy and babies than the average childless 20-something.

As the oldest of nine kids, I hardly remember a time in my childhood where my mom wasn’t pregnant or taking care of a newborn. I grew up surrounded by babies, car seats, diapers, pacifiers and “Sesame Street” playing on TV until I went to college.

And while I was by no means parenting, I was definitely learning — and learning things that I didn’t really realize most people don’t know until they have kids of their own. A couple months ago, for example, I was holding my friend’s 3-month-old daughter and, when it was time for them to leave, I put her in her car seat and buckled her up.

I didn’t think much of it until my friend said to me that most people without kids wouldn’t know how to adjust the buckles properly and make sure the baby was safely situated in their car seat. (And, not to brag, but I’m also a pretty good baby swaddler.)

Now, there are dozens of things I will still have to learn someday. I’m by no means an expert, but I do like having some baby knowledge in my back pocket thanks to all my years as big sister. And working on this issue of the magazine has helped me to learn even more.

Having a baby and being pregnant are such totally different phases. Being prepared for one by no means translates into being prepared for the other. While I’ve had countless hours of baby time in my lifetime, pregnancy will be a whole new world someday. Which is why I loved seeing what our readers had to say about what they wish they’d known before being pregnant.

You can see the full list of comments and answers for yourself. The array of responses we received were open, honest and sometimes a little comical. One of my best friends, who had her first baby about a year and a half ago, sent me a message in response to the question that simply said “At 38 weeks they swab your butthole … it was awful.”

You can add that to the list of things I definitely did not know before this issue. She went on to explain the group B strep test and its importance — something I probably wouldn’t have known until I was eight months along in a pregnancy and being surprised by the same exact thing.

Knowledge is power — whether it’s about unpleasant little surprises in pregnancy or tips and tricks that keep you sane. Whether you’re thinking about having kids, pregnant with your first or looking back at past pregnancies, I hope you enjoy this issue full of lots of mom knowledge.

Happy reading!

Alexis Crowe, Editor

• What Moms Wish They'd Known About Pregnancy
• Better Beginnings Child Care Facilities Guide
• 9 Tips for Budgeting Baby in Your Family Finance
• Postpartum Depression: You’re Not Alone
• Book Club: Bringing On New Baby
• 25 Ways for Mom to Care for Herself After a New Baby