When Emily Blunt was deep in the trenches of new motherhood, learning to breastfeed newborn daughter Hazel in 2014, it was Connie Simpson who prepared ice packs, hot compresses and fought by her side to ward off mastitis.
"She looked at me with those beautiful eyes and she said, 'How does anyone know this?'" Connie recalls. "And I said, 'Sweetheart, that's why I'm here for you.'"
Nanny Connie, as she's known to her clients -- which has included Blunt and John Krasinski, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, George and Amal Clooney, Jessica Alba and Cash Warren, Brooke Shields and Chris Henchy, Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso,and more -- is sharing her secrets to conquering new parenthood in her book, The Nanny Connie Way.
Speaking with ET, Connie is sharing her 30 years of experience with moms, dads and babies, along with stories from inside Hollywood's A-list nurseries. Below, find her six top tips for surviving and thriving as a first-time parent, in her own words, and watch the video above for more.
1. The Essentials
"What do you need for your baby? It's gonna be all what's in your room.
You're gonna need a bassinet, you're gonna need your burp cloths, your swaddles, your diapers, and that changing station is gonna be so important. And those little soft cozy clothes that babies need to be in -- as opposed to the stiff hard clothes that we think we want to put them in.
And your breasts -- if you're breastfeeding or if you're bottle feeding, that's most important. And you're gonna need your partner to help you, because sleep deprivation is going to knock you out of the park."
2. The Sleep Struggle Is Real
"It lasts for the first year, until you get things under control. Four months is really tough because everything is brand new. Even [with] your husband, the whole situation is brand new because you are metamorphosing into a mom and he doesn't understand what's happening and the issues that are going on."
3. Communication Is Key
"The communication of the parents after the birth is huge, and then the breastfeeding comes in there because it takes away from the communication of the parents. The partner can kinda feel like it's time for you to get back in it, you know, 'We want to go and do this.' Breastfeeding is like, 'I can't go and do this now because I have to breastfeed in 30 minutes,' and the dad or the partner isn't understanding of the fact that you can't just jump and go to the movies or whatever. You're still on a program and it's not you, it's the baby and you."
4. Don't Forget About Dad
"I've learned over my 30 years of doing this that dads have serious needs. They've been so supportive for those nine months and they've kinda had their head halfway in the game, but not all the way in there.
A father's kinda lost because he doesn't know what to expect, so if you give him a mission like, 'Stock up the changing table' or 'Fix my breastfeeding area' or those kinda deals, they go, 'Oh, well, I can help! I feel like I can do something.'
They feel like they're crippled because no one's telling them anything and it's just happening around them."
5. Be Flexible (The Justin and Jessica Rule!)
Jess [Biel] had a serious game plan of everything from order in her life to order in having that baby, to what's gonna happen. It was fun coming in because I sat down and talked with them, and then they were like, 'Here's how we want it.'
Justin [Timberlake] was serious about having his sleep and his space and Jess was serious about she was having a home birth, and I was sitting there shaking my hand going, 'Lord have mercy. It ain't gonna play out in either way.'
When it came down to it, the birth was out her hands and she did a home birth ending up in the hospital. Justin learned a month and a half later that sleeping in his house was not an option! He came in the kitchen one day and he said, 'I get it, I get it. Yeah, babies just don't sleep.'"
6. Beer and Breastfeeding
"Breastfeeding is a whole beast to itself. It's a good one, but you have to watch your food, you have to watch your intake, you have to watch the water, and you have to sleep. They think, 'Well, you've had the baby so everything should be good.' No, no, no, no. Not so fast!
When I realized that this was my passion, I've always been taught to do things to the best of your ability. When I started to know that I had a lot of moms that wanted to breastfeed, I had to figure out how to get moms who weren't producing a lot of milk to produce a lot of milk -- or how to get them to produce milk that was fatty.
I went into my little laboratory and I tried to figure it all out. I did fenugreek and mother's milk, I'd heard all these things ... And then dark beer came into the picture, it has to be dark beer because it has a heavier yeast.
I did it with Brooke Shields, that was so much fun. I set up an oasis in her really beautiful bathroom. She had a little refrigerator and in it was beer and milk, and we'd sit there and giggle and she'd pump and eat snacks and have beer and life was good. She was like, 'I didn't know I could produce this much milk!' I was like mhm, keep drinking the beer. It's good.
Beer doesn't have the amount of alcohol that you have in a cocktail, so you're not drinking that much. You want the yeast -- dark beer has more of the yeast to it than regular beer."