“With a second child, people have the idea that since you’re parents already, you’ve got it under control,” says Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow, a maternal-wellness company in New York City that offers doula and other services to new mothers. And, she adds, “people figure that having more people around the house is going to be a nuisance, since you’ve got a bigger family to manage now.”
The challenges that come with having a second child often surprise the parents, too, Thomas explains. When the work is doubled, scheduling, transportation, and other tasks suddenly become herculean — even more so when no one’s around to assist.
Thomas advises advance planning. “Don’t wait until the need for help arises,” she says. “Ideally, you should set up your circle of support well before the baby comes, and be very deliberate about it.”
Even if you haven’t planned ahead, this approach still works. Just let go of expectations that your family and friends will magically show up — and of any resentment you feel at their absence. Then make some calls.
“Look at your social circles, the clubs you belong to, activity groups, and other communities you’re part of, to see who could be part of your sister circle of support,” says Thomas. “Who in your circle has also had a boy? Who can cook, to help with meals? If your mother lives far away, is there a mature woman in your life who could serve as a maternal presence for you?”
Let your potential helpers know that you are putting together a support team, she suggests, and they’ll likely be both flattered and eager to help. Because you’ve asked them, they know they’re welcome in your home. She also recommends using social media to tap into communities that can provide you with day-to-day support and refer you to books and other resources.
This is a lot of work at a busy time, so Thomas advises hiring help if you feel you need it. A birth doula or a postpartum doula, for example, can help you get your circle started.
This originally appeared as “We just had our second child, and no one seems to be offering help this time around. What gives?” in the January-February 2019 print issue of Experience Life.