“With a second child, people have the idea that since you’re parents already, you’ve got it in check,” 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. Once the work is doubled, scheduling, transportation, along with other tasks suddenly become herculean — even more so when no one’s around to help.

Thomas advises advance planning. “Don’t hold back until the need for help arises,” she says. “Ideally, you need to set up your circle of support well before the baby comes, and be very deliberate about this.”

Even if you haven’t planned ahead, this method 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 a 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? In case your mother lives far away, what is the mature woman in your life who could help as a maternal presence for you?”

Let your potential helpers realize 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 networking 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 think you need it. A birth doula or a postpartum doula, for example, can help you get your circle started.