a Practical guide to a lockdown Fourth Trimester

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Where do those first 3 months go?

So I’m sitting here in my living room and wondering where on earth the last 3 months have gone since having my second daughter, Ronnie.  The Fourth Trimester is a complete blur of feeding, nappy changing, lack of sleep and not to mention the other daily duties such as keeping a home, being a mother to my other daughter Ffion and trying to keep in touch with loved ones for that adult interaction.  It’s exhausting! Especially as you are running on very little sleep and recovering from the physical aftermath that childbirth puts your body through.

Oh and if you’re a new mum during the COVID-19 pandemic… Add that to the mix too! What a time to have a baby hey ladies? Wowzers! I thought pregnancy during a pandemic was tough going, this maternity leave during a pandemic is a whole different ball game.

What is the fourth trimester?

I’d never heard of the fourth trimester before I got pregnant and if I’m being honest, looking back I don’t think I knew about it whilst I was pregnant. I was feeling the normal stresses of being a new mum and was relaying my moans and groans to a friend who replied with “ah the fourth trimester. It’s a killer” and that’s how I found out that not only do you have to endure 3 trimesters… They throw in a bonus one at the end too. Aren’t we lucky?!

As I’m no expert, I thought I’d quote the description below from Emma’s Diary as they explain it much better than I ever could:

The first few months of a baby’s life are referred to as the fourth trimester, as this is a time of crucial changes in your baby’s life. Just as significant changes happened to your baby during each trimester in the womb, their first three months outside of the womb are also a time of incredible changes. This stage is also a time of adaptation for new parents too. During this period, you will adjust to no longer being pregnant and start to settle into life with your new addition to the family.

Fourth Trimester
My little Veronica Alana x

My fourth trimester started shaky, but ended well

My first week after having Ronnie was spent in hospital, which I talk about in more detail in my ‘having a baby during a global pandemic – my story’ blog and I was then lucky enough to still have my partner, Phill home for another week after my return home so that he could help with everything whilst I was recovering from yet another complicated c section. 

Anyone who has experienced giving birth via c section will tell you it can take weeks to fully heal and I, unfortunately found myself in hospital again after 14 days due to a c section related hernia and a haematoma behind my c section scar.  My recovery wasn’t going very well. Sent home with antibiotics and being told to rest as much as possible, it’s all I could do but laugh at that ridiculous request! I was a mum of 2 girls under the age of 3… I dream of rest! But it’s never a reality. Luckily it was the weekend so Phill was at hand, yet again to help with the girls whilst I rested for 2 days and then it was go, go, go again.

pregnancy, pregnant, mom, newborn, c section, new mum, new dad
Moments after Ronnie was born

There is no shame in accepting help with childcare if you need it

I had Ronnie on the first day of the Wales Lockdown in October and it has only become more restricted as the months have gone by, so I have been limited in the babysitting/visitors department. Those first few months are when your mum, mother in law, family and friends come over and watch the kids whilst you have a shower, take a nap, bath one of your children etc… Man did I take that for granted the first time round!!

I am very lucky that my eldest who is 2 and a half is at the childminders 2 days a week, which allows me to spend some quality time with Ronnie.  I’m so lucky that I get those days as the other 5 days in the week are full on with all type of toddler antics. Before motherhood I never thought I’d have the patience for it, but turns out I do. I came to this realisation whilst making a bottle of decaffeinated tea for Ffion, a big mug of full caffeinated coffee for me and a bottle of milk for Ronnie all whilst both were screaming blue murder. I make the drinks, sit down with them both and put on a Julia Donaldson episode (Snail and the Whale being her current favourite.. Mine too) and things eventually calm down. I

learnt very quickly to chose my battles wisely when it comes to being at home alone with my girls and try to rationalise my toddlers behaviour as much as I can. For example, 9 times out of 10 she is upset because she’s tired and that’s it, no hidden agendas. She’s just absolutely shattered and needs her mum for a cuddle. So that’s what I do. You will find me most days crammed into my armchair with both my girls in my arms and I love it and remind myself that come September I’ll be back in work full time, missing those cuddles.

Maternity leave is lonely at the best of times but…

Having a new born baby and a toddler at home, during a national lockdown is hard work, lonely and sometimes long. Especially during the fourth trimester. You’re busy, but there is very little to prove that as the housework is almost always at the bottom of the ‘things to do list’. I swear Phill comes home some days and if Ronnie starts stirring asks “when was her last feed?” to which I look at him blankly, frantically going through the memory filing system in my brain trying to remember.  I never can.  As I say, you do what you have to do and that’s it. I seemed to be better at that when I only had one to look after, but it’s true what they say; You are much more relaxed with your second. 

Getting my new baby into a night time sleeping routine 

Those first few months are all about adapting to the new rhythm of life and figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. There will be mistakes, there will be tears and there may well be times you fancy leaving the kids with nanna for a week, but you’ll get there I promise.  It gets easier once you are not waking up every 3 hours throughout the night to feed your little one, as sleep deprivation for me was the worst part of the fourth trimester.  I love my sleep! I’m an 8 hours a night kinda girl so I was a stickler for starting a bedtime routine early with both my girls. 

I can truly relate to the POST below that the Psychedmommy on Instagram posted on her account (give her a follow as she’s always so relatable). Everything always seems worse when you are sleep deprived. I would go to bed at 8pm every night so that I could squeeze in as much sleep as possible to prepare me for the next day. Yes, me and Phill didn’t have much quality time together for those first 3 months but after having Ffion we knew it was only temporary.

Follow www.instagram.com/psychedmommy as she’s just amazing!

We managed to get Ronnie into her night time sleep routine over Christmas (when she was approximately 11 weeks old) and she now sleeps throughout the night.  Honestly the fact that I get a good night’s sleep helps make things easier throughout the day for sure as I have more patience, energy and not so reliant on strong coffee as I was before.  I’m only on 8 mugs a day now ha!

baby sleeping
In her new cot

Getting help with your baby’s sleeping

If you ever need any help with your children’s sleep routine, then I can’t recommend The Sleepy Mammy highly enough! She’s a Paediatric sleep coach/consultant and we connected via my Instagram account a few months back and she’s always sharing tips for parents and offers a phone service for mums too.  If you’re looking for help here is her Instagram link to her account: https://www.instagram.com/thesleepymammy/ . She’s always so helpful and is a funny account to follow too, so win/win for me! Instagram has been a true saviour for me these last 12 months and it’s because of friends I have met. Just helps that Tessa knows her stuff too 🙂

instragram page
The Sleep Mammy

Try to get out of the house if you can

My Ronnie was born on 1st October 2020. The first day of Lockdown 2.0 in Wales. Brilliant!! I didn’t think that the lockdown would lead us in to 2021 so wasn’t that fazed at first as I knew I would be in a ‘new mum’ fog for a few weeks, but looked forward to showing my new baby off in November. It’s now 25th January 2021 and Ronnie has yet to meet many of our friends and family. I won’t write much more on this as it’s too upsetting and makes me sad, so I try not to dwell on it too much and try to remember that there are bigger issues going on in the world right now and we are (at time of writing this) all fit and healthy and that alone is something to embrace during these worrying times.

Once I felt able to, I tried out our new double buggy (which was a another Facebook Marketplace bargain at £60!) and ventured outdoors for a walk with my 2 girls. I had a plan which I wrote about in my previous blog to get back to some level of fitness pretty sharpish as I’m 40 in 2022 and really want to wear a LBD (little black dress) at my party and also, I can’t use pregnancies as an excuse anymore (shame really, that one got me through 3 years).

It was lovely to get out and see other human beings on my little wander around the block and since then I have ventured further over to the next town away and currently out for 90 minutes most days. (weather permitting). There isn’t much to do during a national lockdown other than walking, so that’s what I do. A lot! I’ve seen Conwy Castle that many times now that I don’t even notice it anymore… I’m sure you can all relate to this?

But it’s good to get out of the house none the less. It’s good for you physically, mentally and more importantly it’s nice for the little ones to get out too. Even if it is for a short while. I tend to take a little picnic and some hot drinks for me and Ffion. I’ve also started giving her a little clear bag and asking her to collect items on our walk to keep her occupied (as like every toddler.. She doesn’t have a great attention span so always looking for ways to keep her busy and not screaming) and then when we come home we go through what she has collected. I’m always open for more outdoor suggestions, so please leave a comment below for me 🙂

Why I have embraced the fourth trimester more this time around

This has been the last fourth trimester I will ever experience as we are not having any more children and I have to say that although it was tough going some days, I’m going to miss them too.  Those sleepless nights are tough but they’re also the times you bond with your little one too I think. No disruptions, just you two at 10pm, 1am and then 3am looking at each other and just loving each other, it’s beautiful.

I’m also wiser this time round as a second time mum… I know the harder times are ahead!! Take it all in ladies… You’re about to have an even bumpier ride which they call ‘The Toddler Years’. Now that’s a whole new area that no one can prepare you for!

How did you find your fourth trimester? What advice would you give to other mums? Please comment below as I’d love to hear from you all. 

Stay safe guys,

Lynne (The Swan Effect Mum)

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