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Mother's Helper

Talk often with other moms

Freshly laundered undershirts are meaningless if your state of mind is a mess. No one knows what you're going through like other new moms, so seek them out. The telephone proved a lifeline for Ann Marie White when she felt isolated. "Friends and family would call and ask me how Alexander was," she says -- and she was touched when "they weren't just asking out of politeness. When people opened the door to that conversation, I really appreciated it."

Online bulletin boards let you confab about sore nipples in the comfort of your own home (see "Good Sources for Help", below). But nothing can replace human contact, as Jennifer Sims found out. Her best friend, Jane, also had a 2-year-old daughter and a newborn son. "Even if it wasn't anything traumatic, it was nice to have someone to talk to who was going through the same thing," says Sims. If you're the first (or last) mother in your circle, new mom groups can be found anywhere from your hospital to your local gym.

Think of becoming a mom as joining a very big, very special club. It's up to you to learn from, and then share, its members' accumulated wisdom. After a friend gave birth, Olsson made the new parents a pan of lasagna, dropped it off -- and went home.