* By Helen Hughes, mother to Olivia, 3, and Holly, 12 weeks
This week marks the end of my ‘fourth trimester’ otherwise known as the Holy Grail of the post-partum period. A magical time when everything falls into place. Baby settles into a routine, sleeps through the night and mummy finally snaps back into shape? Let’s hope so. But indulge me for a second as I reflect on the past 12 weeks.
Firstly, it seems inconceivable that our beautiful, sweet natured, daughter Holly only arrived into the world 12 weeks ago – it’s surprised us all how quickly we’ve become used to life as a foursome, how our hearts opened even further to love Holly with that instinctive, powerful love we felt for Olivia. Amazing. And then there are the physical changes in her that we joyfully witnessed for a second time and which are just as captivating as first time around. Now, having unfurled her arms and legs, revealed her large, engaging eyes and shown us her repertoire of smiles, coos and gurgles, Holly is so different to that scrunched up, gorgeous bundle of newbornness. What a journey!
Meanwhile, I’ve have had the usual patchy periods of sleep, spent what feels like endless hours breastfeeding and discovered the highs and lows of helping my demanding 3 year old daughter come to terms with being a big sister – a painful adjustment at times, alternating between attention-seeking meltdowns and total adoration for her little sister. Amidst all of this, I’ve found myself once again in the fashion doldrums. It may seem a trivial complaint but seriously, I’d forgotten just how depressing the fourth trimester can be when it comes to what to wear! Of course, we’re not helped by the fact that celebs (such as Beyonce and Victoria Beckham, pictured below) seem to pull off the glowing new mother look so effortlessly…
Stuck between pre and post pregnancy body shapes, I found myself dreading the daily ritual of staring into a wardrobe that had very little to offer. My maternity wardrobe had been well and truly worn to death and hung loose around my (slowly) shrinking tummy – quite unflattering. I scoured my wardrobe for anything that could work with my ‘in between’ shape and breastfeeding: button down shirts, low V neck sweaters and a trusty long length waterfall cardigan.
It’s tempting to want to buy new for this relatively short-lived wardrobe crisis but in my view, a few key purchases are all that’s needed to make the 4th trimester less of a clothing nightmare. A selection of good quality vest tops that withstand endless washing are a must – my favourites are from Zara, GAP maternity or for breastfeeding-friendly ones, try Boob – for wearing underneath regular tops and allowing for discreet feeding. Having had a winter baby, I can also recommend a chunky knitted poncho or wrap cardigan from The White Company which hide a multitude of sins! Comfort is obviously key at this time, especially for those who’ve had C-sections, so opt for leggings such as these from Isabella Oliver or loose fitting maxi dresses in the Summer. I’ve also stuck with my Gap 1969 ‘skinny’ maternity jeans, thankful for their supportive waist bands. Another top tip is to wear white or cream tops which don’t show baby ‘deposits’!
It took several weeks while to find the right balance between feeling comfortable and looking respectable but keeping your wardrobe simple in blacks, whites and greys will see you through this ‘inbetween’ stage – without having to buy new. Add a smudge of Bobbi Brown cream blush in coral to your cheeks and you’ll convince everyone you’re getting 8 hours unbroken sleep a night!