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By Jessica T

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!