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Top tips to having a baby in West Sussex by Rebecca Downie, newborn photographer

Finding out you are expecting a baby will hopefully be one of the happiest days of your life. It is natural that the next thing is your mind begins to spin! Whether this is your first baby or your first baby in this area, I hope I can help introduce you to lots of Sussex based businesses that can offer you the best possible advice and products with the benefit of being based on your doorstep..’It’s so important to support local businesses and as many of the mums are working mums themselves, you will become part of a fantastic community!.”

So what first?

SHOPPING

Sadly, in this internet age our high street is dying. This month, our local Mothercare in Crawley closed down. The big baby shows in London are great, but they are massive, overwhelming and a long day out from Sussex – especially when pregnant! Luckily we have our own fantastic show right here in West Sussex. I had a chat with Sarah O’Connell who runs SO Creative, the company behind the growing brand BabyTodd. Sarah told me “Sure, the internet is great and gives us the opportunity to research and buy day or night (especially handy when we are awake at 2am!) but:

• Who are you buying from and is the quality as good as you hope?
• Will you need all that you read about?
• How about answers to those questions that you would like to ask?”

Aware of the need to answer these questions and to showcase the fantastic companies we have locally. Sarah founded the BabyTodd and Beyond show which brings expectant parents and local suppliers together. The show gives expectant parents access to a unique and beautiful product range with the benefit of meeting and learning from local experts via taster sessions.

Why not make a day of it and treat yourself with a light lunch or snack in the Refreshment Hub.

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY: the next event is at the South of England Showground, Ardingly on 29th September 2018. Book your tickets here.

HEALTHY DIET AND EXERCISE

Now you have your baby shopping planned! It’s time to think about you -mummy to be! Self care is so important at this time. I piled on the pounds with my first pregnancy so tried to be more careful with my second. Rachel Howell is the director of Nutribalance in Haywards Heath. I caught up with her to ask for some tips. This is what she shared “Being pregnant is an exciting time but the changes in your body can leave you feeling exhausted and low in energy. Swapping out some of your usual foods for healthier alternatives may help with balancing your blood sugar so you can avoid those fluctuations in energy and maximize your nutrient intake at the same time.”

Refined carbs such as bread, pasta, white rice are great for giving us energy but they may also lead to spikes in blood sugar as they are digested. These spikes are followed by a low which may cause cravings for carbs and sugary foods.

Replacing these with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and farro, or with starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes can provide more fibre and nutrients as well as the energy you need, without that spike in blood sugar.

Here, in Mid Sussex we are lucky that we have a good choice of antenatal exercise classes. I really enjoyed Aquanatal at the Dolphin Haywards Heath, especially towards the end of my pregnancy as the water took the weight off my massive bump! My other favourite was weekly yoga with Lushtums.

It is important to get the right advice so I asked Samantha Robbins, Director of Sussex Zest, PT and mum of 2 what she advises to keep you and baby safe and well…”Research suggests that the more active and fit you are during pregnancy the easier you will find it to manage the changing shape of your body, the labour and delivery and post-birth return to fitness.” That said pregnancy is not the time to begin a new fitness regime. Please consult your healthcare provider before trying anything new.

If you’re attending a class do tell the instructor as soon as you know you are pregnant so they can make any necessary adjustments for you to get the most from your session. Exercise is not dangerous for your baby but you may want to avoid sports with a risk of impact or falls. This includes high intensity workouts (if you do not already participate in them), ball sports, horse riding, skiing.

Dancing, antenatal yoga, gym and simply walking are all great ways to maintain your fitness and enjoy some you time. Don’t exhaust yourself – you may find you need to slow down as pregnancy progresses.”

SCANS

Your 20 week scan is the big one. All clear here and it’s no stops until the birth! Some people like to have regular scans for bonding, for reassurance (especially if this is a rainbow baby) or to find out the sex. I can recommend Bubba View based in Lancing, West Sussex. They are a fairly new clinic, facilities are very clean and modern, and being a small business they are fully focused on you and the importance of your new arrival!.

MATERNITY AND NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY

The 20 week scan brings me on to the best time to book your maternity and newborn shoot. I love maternity or bump shoots – celebrating the miracle of mummy and baby to be. I often get asked the best time for the maternity shoot to take place, and the answer is 32-36 weeks. We can capture that lovely round bump. I can offer a studio style shoot in your home or location shoot in West Sussex.

Newborn photography captures baby whilst they are still sleepy, curly and wrinkly from 9 months in your tummy. The ideal time is 3-14 days new. Unfortunately, babies don’t call in advance to let us know when they are coming and as I can only book a limited number of newborn shoots in my diary each month, so it is necessary to book early to guarantee your due date. Those newborn days pass by in a blur and newborn photography is a wonderful way to capture them.

I can also create beautiful impressions of your newborn babies hands and feet, the process captures the tiny creases and little finger and toe-nails, this period is shorter than you can imagine and the impressions really are a beautiful piece of artwork which you can treasure forever.

Best bit about me….I offer a free photo shoot and I come to you so you can relax on the sofa! I travel all over West Sussex and into Surrey and Kent from my base in Lindfield, near Haywards Heath.

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SKIN CARE WHILST PREGNANT

Many mums struggle with dry skin, and our blooming bellies can get quite itchy.

Emma Lane is a local independent ambassador for Tropic and she says “‘I wish I had known about these amazing products with my first baby. Something that would have been so handy to have and use on myself and baby, safe in the knowledge that it’s 100% safe 100% natural, cruelty free, vegan, and free from nasties. A great product is Tamanu Balm. Perfect for sore nipples, nappy rash, dribble rash, dry skin, to protect skin……the list goes on.’ Sounds perfect for your nappy bag! Contact Emma and she will let you try it for free.

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GETTING THINGS DONE – SLINGS CAN HELP

For many of us, how little you can get done in a day with a newborn, will come as the biggest shock. You will really know the answer to ‘what did you do all day’? Newborn babies just want to be with their mummys. After the first couple of weeks recovering it isn’t always practical to cuddle your baby all day. Slings are a great way of maintaining the closeness whilst freeing up your hands. Marianne Sawford runs Sweet Wrappers, a free weekly drop-in session in Haywards Heath, where you can try out a variety of baby carriers and also have the opportunity to hire them.

Marianne advises “for newborns, a stretchy wrap, woven wrap or ring sling are worth considering as they are fully adjustable and so will enable you to get a bespoke fit. Your baby’s airway must be protected: make sure you can see their nose is clear, that you never cover their face, that their chin is off their chest, their spine is only very gently curved – it should be almost straight to avoid slumping – and that the carrier is keeping baby held close to you.“

Find out more about safe, comfortable carrying at or visit her drop in where she often has other experts too.

BABY’S ‘GOING HOME OUTFIT’

If we are honest imagining your cute little babies in sweet outfits is one of the best bits! Laura who set up Oliviers Boutique, which is named after her son, says “firstly a going home outfit will be the one you will probably look at the most over the years, the first ever picture of your gorgeous baby or if your super lucky babies! Treat yourself to something a little special.”

My personal favourite on her website for newborns is the Bunny Romper – yes it has long bunny ears!

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Dribble bibs can also be a great addition to any babies wardrobe, with the added bonus of reducing the number of outfits required in one day! Emma hand makes all the bibs, they are cut out and stitched by her. Bibs are made from cotton or cotton jersey, and all are backed with soft fleece which prevents moisture going through to the skin.. If you want a particular fabric she can help and custom orders are extremely welcome, If you’re looking for funky dribble bibs that actually keep little ones skin and clothes dry, then pop over to @rockabyebibsandbobs.

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D-DAY OR DUE DATE!

Hands up if you are trying to avoid thinking “how is this baby going to get out of me.” Believe it or not there are things you can do to improve your chances of having a successful and healthy vaginal birth – unfortunately, sometimes nature just wants it their way…I know as I am a 2 x c-sec mummy!)

A Bumps A Baby are midwife led antenatal classes. I caught up with Sarah and asked her for 6 top tips for a calm birth:

1.Make a nest – a softly lit, snugly, comfortable, warm area will enhance your relaxation & promote oxytocin release.
2. Avoid screens – oxytocin hates screens and they make us engage the frontal cortex or problem solving of our brain rather than the primitive instinctive part needed for labour.
3. Eat & drink – muscles need calories & hydration to work. Start early with nourishing yourself & keep going until you no longer want it.
4. Breath and release – take care of your breathing to relax and oxygenate yourself & your baby.
5. Make two playlists – one for relaxation & one for dancing.
6. Go with the flow – have your birth wishes but know that labour is a naturally evolving event and be prepared to adapt and flow with it wherever it takes you.

I hope the above is useful. Good luck with your pregnancy I hope it’s enjoyable and you and baby stay safe and well.

Stayed tuned – next week I will bring you a similar article for once baby is here.

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Photography for Little People by Rebecca

Rebecca is a fully trained photographer who specialises in maternity, newborn and family photography.  She lives in Lindfield, Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

Rebecca is mobile and will bring her studio to you and will travel across West Sussex to Horsham, East Grinstead, Crawley, Reigate, Redhill, Pulborough and all the lovely villages in between.

Offering mobile photography means a relaxing photo shoot in your own home.