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10 to Twins

By Jessica T

About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Helpouts: The Silver Bullet for New Parents

Uploaded: May 4, 2014
The first-year of parenthood is a haze punctuated by near-certain disasters and loads of change. A new father recently described his paternity leave as "time to learn to cope" with his life being turned upside down. In a flash, you are sent home from the hospital with a little vulnerable human being (or in my case two!) You require expert information about subjects you never even knew there were experts for: breastfeeding, sleep training, postpartum exercise and nutritional needs, solid foods. And you've gone from a mobile state to being much more home-bound. Home is, after all, the most comfortable place to diaper and feed a baby.

What do you do when you've googled your question, read all of the blog and forum posts about a topic, and still don't know the answer as it applies to you? The answer, like your new baby, has finally arrived.

Helpouts is a new product by Google that allows you to connect with experts on a variety of subjects via video chat. Google has identified providers catering to new parents and put them on a special page:

Have a pressing breastfeeding question that can't wait? Did the Ferber method work for your baby last night but not tonight, and you think you might lose your mind if you hear her cry for another hour? Are you desperate to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans?

No need to find a local expert, load up the diaper bag, and put the baby in the car seat -- you can connect instantly or schedule time with a specialist at the moment you need help. (And when your baby woes are over, try connecting with a provider for career guidance, foreign language tutoring, interior decorating advice, or to get your nagging WordPress question answered.)

I've had many magical Helpouts experiences. My first experience was a fitness and nutrition session with an expert personal trainer, Ben Matlak. I explained I had recently gone back to work, had a sweet tooth, and wanted to get back in shape despite having less time to be active. Ben designed a body weight circuit that was personalized to me and (get this) achievable given my time constraints. He also sent me nutritional tips that I keep in mind throughout the day. Now, when I need a mid-afternoon snack, I seek out a source of protein rather than the chocolate that beckons. (OK, on Friday and maybe even Thursday I still give in.)

My next session was a breastfeeding consultation with Bryna Sampey. My son was on a nursing strike because I recoiled in pain after he bit me with his new teeth. Bryna offered tips for how to reintroduce the breast and how to cope if I was bitten again. She also provided some invaluable tips about pumping at work and nursing at night to maintain my milk supply. And all within the privacy of my own home!

You can do a single Helpout or multiple sessions with the same provider. Ben checks in on my progress often, which is great encouragement. The advantage of these appointments is that I can do them after my kids go to bed or when they are napping. I don't need to line up childcare, and in some cases I don't even need to schedule time in advance.

Coach T uses Helpouts too! Our patio heater was broken and he fixed it after consulting with Stefan Attaway.

Why not give it a try? Take a Helpout today!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by menlo mom, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton,
on May 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm

This feels like a giant product placement ad, not a blog.

Posted by Jessica T, a Almanac Online blogger,
on May 5, 2014 at 9:52 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

Hello Menlo Mom,

Ever so occasionally, I write about a product or service I come across that delights me. I'm not paid to do this. I do it because I want to share relevant things with my readers. Since much of my content on this blog centers around parenting, postpartum/back to work issues, and babies, Helpouts seems like a perfect fit.

Posted by Mr. BBQ, a resident of Community Center,
on May 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm

My Mom raised to boys without help from blogs, personal trainers, wy wife stopped breast feeding when our kids got their teeth in and took a bite out of her. I just don't get it, blogs, personal trainers, paid breast feeding advise. Dr. Spock gave us the advise for Mom, my wife. A whole new world.

Posted by Jessica T, a Almanac Online blogger,
on May 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Mr. BBQ - Thanks for your perspective. I'm going to hazard a guess that your mom had a support network that helped her raise her boys. My parents raised me with the help of Dr. Spock too (in the absence of blogs, trainers, and paid breastfeeding advice). But my mom was also able to take an entire year off when she had my sister and me. I think it is a new world, where time is at an absolute premium. I wouldn't have succeeded at breastfeeding my three kids without paid lactation consultants. They were critical to helping me diagnose infections and ensure that my children were getting the nutrition they needed.

Posted by menlo mom, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton,
on May 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Technically, this is a product placement as you work for Google.

Posted by Infomercial, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on May 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm

This represents a new low for the blogs here. I appreciate the Almanac trying to introduce readers to different perspectives, but do we have to have someone who is so blatantly pimping products?

Posted by Palo Alto Mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on May 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I agree with Menlo Mom on this one, the conflict of interest is obvious.

Posted by New Mama, a resident of another community,
on May 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm

As a new, first time mom, I can see how a product/service like this could be really helpful. When baby issues arise, I can search the internet or read books for possible answers, but sometimes it's just nice - and reassuring - to be able to talk to an expert in the field. Our little one will be making the transition to her own room soon - which I've heard can be challenging - and I think talking to someone at Helpouts could be great. Why not tap into someone who can give us guidance?

I for one am glad the service was brought to my attention. Regardless if the writer works at Google, I think it could be super helpful for new moms.

Posted by Audrey, a resident of another community,
on May 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Wow. Harsh comments. I appreciate the time and thought it took for Jessica to share something with her readers. If you don't like it, don't take the advice, and move on. No need to be so mean.

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on May 8, 2014 at 7:39 am

It seems to me that this sort of service or need for such a service is a sign of the times. In days gone by, the older generation of experienced mothers, aunts, older sisters, grandmothers, etc. were able to offer all types of tried and trusted methods to deal with most problems of newborns. Granted we have high tech options, but please don't forget the older members of the family who have gone through this before. Even today with spread out families, the older members of the family are still very valuable (and free) sources of great advice. Apart from the advice itself, most of these experienced moms would love to be asked for advice and love the chance to talk to their younger relatives about their mommy experiences. You don't have to always take the advice, but hearing several different stories about how to deal with common issues makes a lot of sense.

Don't cut yourself off from your relatives. In most cases the advice is good and reconnecting with relatives is a great plus after baby is born. Even if it is done over Skype or social networks.

Posted by Jessica T, a Almanac Online blogger,
on May 8, 2014 at 10:46 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

Thanks for the great reminder, Mother of 4! Having a newborn is a great time to bond with family and re-live the experience. As families live farther apart and as women have babies later in life these days, not everyone has access to experts in our families. That's certainly why having access to virtual experts has been helpful for me.

Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on May 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Oh help-outs. I first read it as hel-pouts

Posted by Tom, a resident of another community,
on Feb 20, 2017 at 7:12 am

Help us rebuild this community.

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