My Favourite Baby Buys (That I couldn’t have been without)! By Shrewsbury Photographer, Victoria J Photography

My Favourite Baby Buys (That I couldn’t have been without)! By Shrewsbury Photographer, Victoria J Photography

I remember, when I was pregnant with Emily, being so excited to start buying things for the nursery, little outfits and other ‘necessities’. And then when we were finally ready to start looking for things, I felt completely overwhelmed. Until I started looking I had no idea of the absolutely huge amount of baby products that are on the market. And, of course, like most expectant mummies, I had no idea what I needed or didn’t need.
So with that in mind I wanted to share with you some of my absolute favourite buys that we had for our two little monkeys (aside from the usual stuff). Some of which we purchased before they arrived, but most of which we got whilst they were here. Surprisingly, a lot of the stuff I thought we needed before we had a baby didn’t make it onto the list!

Chicco Next to me Crib

I loved this! It’s a gorgeous little crib for baby which attaches to the side of your bed. You can choose to have the side closest to you down so you have total access to baby all the time, or have the side up and treat it like any other crib. This gave me so much peace of mind when we first brought Emily home from the hospital. She didn’t sleep too well to begin with in all honesty but I don’t think she would have slept well anywhere! But while she was in there it was so so easy to check on her, which you do, about 1000000 times a night when you are a new mummy!
Emily was bottle fed so I didn’t experience the true benefits of it until we had Edward who breastfed and breastfed and breastfed! The little boob monster fed every night for what felt like forever. I wondered whether he would ever sleep through the night and the sleep deprived mombie that I was really appreciated the fact that I didn’t even need to get out of bed to pick Edward up! Simple things! But anything to make life easier in those first few crazy (and brilliant of course) months is a winner with me!
There is also loads more space than in most cribs! Emily and Edward both stayed in the next to be crib comfortably until they were 6 months old.
You can find out all about their different products here: httpss://www.chicco.co.uk/chicco-products/sleeptime-and-relaxation/cribs-and-cots.html

 

Sleepyhead

I promise the whole blog isn’t just sleep related but I think it’s a pretty big deal to sleep deprived parents! And to be honest, it was probably one of the biggest hurdles we faced with Emily. She was a reflux baby so sleeping was pretty uncomfortable for her a lot of the time. Emily loved cuddles. She loved cuddles most during the middle of the night and I often ended up holding her on my chest for most of the night whilst I was absolutely terrified

of falling asleep like it. We tried everything! We had a reflux pillow which helped massively but she loved the comfort of a cuddle.
After we thought we had exhausted every option I came across the sleepyhead. It had the most amazing reviews but we were both a little reluctant to part with the cash- its not the cheapest product on the market and we weren’t sure it would work. But honestly, some of the best money we ever spent!! Emily slept in there straight away. She would put herself to sleep in there which she had struggled to previously and I even remember taking it to her cousins 1st birthday party and she had her nap in the garden surrounded by toddlers!
We had the deluxe and found that was enough, but there is a bigger vesion for when they grow out of it! Thankfully my two both slept fine without it once they had outgrown it.
httpss://www.johnlewis.com/sleepyhead-deluxe-pristine-white-baby-pod-0-8-months/p3158077

Ewan the dream sheep

This was a gift from my workplace when I was pregnant with Edward (our second child). We had used something similar with Emily and it had helped her sleep as she got older. I used it almost from birth with Edward and he LOVED it!! The sounds sent him off the sleep immediately and he self settled from really early on with these sounds. At 2 months old he was putting himself to sleep for all his naps and in the evening. I just had to pop him in his sleepyhead and put Ewan on for 5 minutes.
httpss://www.boots.com/sweetdreamers-ewan-the-dream-sheep-grey-10205089
I know boots stock these but they are also available on Amazon, John Lewis, Argos.

Stretchy Wrap

Baby wearing was a life saver for me with both my children, for different reasons. Emily would sleep much better in a baby carrier (at the time we had the mothercare 3 in 1 baby carrier) as she was upright. So with Emily I would dance around the house, do the hoovering, do the washing up. Anything that would help her get off to sleep and it also gave me a bit of freedom to do the things that would otherwise never have got done.
With Edward I had the a free rider stretchy wrap httpss://freeriderco.com/collections/collections-all and I honestly don’t know how I would have managed without it. Its something I would absolutely recommend for anyone having their second child and who will have a toddler and a newborn at home. I knew that leaving myself without any hands to help/catch/play with my toddler would have been dangerous territory! The stretchy wrap was incredibly helpful when we were out and about (especially as Edward hated the pram!) but also when we were at home, if for any reason he was unsettled I was able to wear him whilst also sorting out the house and keeping Emily entertained! Perfect!
Its also a lovely way to bond with your baby. I loved the closeness of baby wearing! Looking down and seeing their little face, being able to steal kisses! And it’s lovely and warm for them, especially in the colder months!

And for those baby wearers I also found the most amazing, chunky knit socks for use when they are in the sling and their little feet are out. I ordered them through httpss://www.etsy.com/shop/belleandbeauknits/?fbclid=IwAR1f1T_w0cXW-ZI9uSpqK_Zi55j9kYf4ql1dt6wDIn993JGM_BrP2KcQOZc. Belle and Beau luxury baby knits made the most beautiful socks for Edward and he wore them constantly in the winter. Definitely one for the baby wearing mummies!

Sock ons

httpss://www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk/2pack-sock-ons-b7213.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwxYLoBRCxARIsAEf16-uPKK03o92sZdxGMG4LA_S8mzLNLV07je5AAQxK6iKbr3EBtr1g8tgaArg_EALw_wcB

Anyone with a newborn baby will understand just how often they manage to lose their tiny little socks! I don’t know how they do it but I was constantly putting socks back on! Sock on’s were fantastic and definitely saved us from the constant sock collecting/finding!

 

Medela breast pump hire service

This saved me when I couldn’t breastfeed Emily. I was desperate to breastfeed and was absolutely NOT prepared to have any difficulty with it! It caught me off guard and I ended up expressing for 3 months (until I felt completely exhausted!). The breast pump we had got before Emily arrived was useless for me and I needed an electric one. I was suffering from mastitis A LOT and I think it was because the pumping wasn’t as efficient as if I had been feeding Emily directly. I discovered the Medela rental service from the hospital staff and decided to give it a go. They delivered it to my house and picked it up when I was done and it was so easy to sort out!
httpss://www.medela-rental.co.uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwxYLoBRCxARIsAEf16-sabH-UCUlKdWrbZJN3PvB6JjTwyaNGOwnF4XksUBbheR0iE0E9DIMaAtgHEALw_wcB

Video baby monitor

This was such a good investment for us. Ours has lasted 5 years almost, and whilst it has got Sellotape across the top (after Hubby dropped it down the stairs!), its still in good working order and I still use it with Edward. The video gave me loads of peace of mind when we first started putting Emily down before we were going to bed. Yes, I used to sit there for ages making sure I could see her little belly rising and falling but at least I could keep an eye on her.
Plus it has been perfect for when they each moved into a bed out of their cots. Which is why it’s still on for Edward in the evening! Staying in bed was nowhere near as fun as getting out of bed and climbing over the stairgate it seems! Thankfully the novelty has worn off I think so the baby monitor may finally retire now! Has had a very good run though!
We used this one (an older version). It also plays music and allows you to speak to them through the monitor (though this has never actually settled either of our children, instead they found it terrifying!), as well as tells you the temperature in their room and lights up when they start crying or making noise.

httpss://www.boots.com/motorola-mbp36s-digital-video-baby-monitor-10175399?cm_mmc=bmm-buk-google-ppc-_-PLAs-_-(GB:Whoop!)+Motorola-_-(GB:Whoop!)+Boots+Shopping+-+Category+-+Baby+-+High+Margin+-+Desktop&gclid=Cj0KCQjwxYLoBRCxARIsAEf16-uWf1IGhqK7tZPiWJw2t39IXwrUEG0qZMFT8RMYMpvy8KAc2fJ5urEaAqo2EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

Bouncy Chair

I never actually thought about having somewhere to put baby down before Emily arrived. I held her constantly but the thought had never even crossed my mind beforehand. Shortly after she was born we were gifted a bouncy chair and she loved it! In fact both of them did. We chose one with lights, sounds, and loads of colour to keep her entertained and it was very well used with both our children. Just make sure you are aware of the safety guidelines with regards to sleeping in these chairs.
We had this one but I think they have updated it and have newer designs. Shame, this one had the best musical crab! httpss://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiny-Love-22218001-Gymini-Bouncer/dp/B003GAMMN4

Victoria is a newborn photographer, working from her home studio in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. As well as these wonderful baby buys it’s also a great idea to invest in capturing memories of this precious time. Find out more about my newborn sessions here. Or, please get in contact to discuss a session at Victoria J Photography.

Behind the Scenes with Shrewsbury Photographer, Victoria J Photography

Behind the Scenes with Shrewsbury Photographer, Victoria J Photography

   

 

I’ve said it many times- I really do have the best job in the world. Baby cuddles and creating beautiful images for parents who will treasure them for a lifetime! It’s hardly surprising that so many people want to do this as their career!

 

But did you know that newborn photography is also a completely unregulated industry? We don’t have a pass any fancy exams, we don’t have to complete so many hours of training before we can start and safety is set by our own standards. In fact anyone could set up as a newborn photographer tomorrow and start charging for photoshoots. It is completely up to the photographer to ensure that their training is up to date, that they are handling and posing babies safely and that they are fully insured to do so.

 

Anyone who has had a shoot with me will know how passionate I am about the training I have had. I have trained with some of the best and have a few more on the bucket list to train with. I have trained in person with some amazing photographers- in baby safety and compositing images, in safe posing, in lighting and in business. I’ve purchased no end of online courses and I simply love learning and improving. I never attempt poses I haven’t had training for and throughout my sessions, the safety of my littlest clients is paramount! I am also a member of the Baby and Newborn Photography Network who promote safety in newborn posing.

 

I felt it was important to share some of the behind the scenes images from my sessions. Most of the time I only share the final image but sometimes a lot more has gone into an image than you may initially realise. For some poses, I use Mum or Dad’s hands to help support the newborn, multiple images are taken and then these are later composited in photoshop to create one final image. This ensures baby is safe at all times!

 

In both these poses baby is completely safe throughout. They are settled, they are comfortable and the studio is always nice and warm for them.

 

I aim to make my newborn sessions as relaxing as possible for parents- it is a rare opportunity for you to sit back and relax so soon after the birth of your little one. I want all my clients to feel confident that their little one is in safe hands throughout the session.

 

With so many newborn photographers out there it is important that you ask the right questions when you are looking around for the right one for you. Make sure that they are fully insured and that they are trained in newborn posing and safety.

You can find out more about my newborn sessions here.

 

My Breastfeeding Journey

My Breastfeeding Journey

There are plenty of things I wish I had known about having a baby, before I actually had one (like how the little flaps at the top of vests are to widen the neck hole so that it can slide over the body whenever poonamis strike!). But without a shadow of a doubt the thing I feel most passionately about is breastfeeding!!
As first time parents, we read all the books, attended (most of) the NCT antenatal classes, I was obsessed with reading about what was happening each week- how big Emily should be and how she should be developing, we sat down and carefully wrote our birthplan (which I may as well have thrown out the window!), carefully packed everything we could possibly need into the hospital bag(s), decorated the nursery perfectly, read everything I possibly could about birth and genuinely thought I was really prepared! And I continued to think that way until Emily was placed on my chest and the midwife asked me to give her the first feed!

Throughout my pregnancy there was no doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed my baby! And why wouldn’t I? I’d heard throughout pregnancy how it was the most natural thing in the world, I’d been shown videos in classes I’d attended and told stories of babies that after they were placed on their mothers just wriggled around and crawled up their mothers chest until they found food and just fed on their own! Easy right!?
I had been informed by my midwife whilst I was pregnant about breastfeeding classes at the hospital. But they clashed with work, and although I was interested, I didn’t really understand why I had to take time off work to learn about something that was so easy and natural! So I didn’t.

So along came Emily in Jan 2015, exactly 4 weeks earlier than her due date. We were made up. They placed her on my chest and I was so happy! No-one can prepare you for that moment, and it’s not one I will ever forget. It was shortly after that the midwife suggested I give Emily her first feed. And I literally had no idea what I was doing! Whilst it felt natural for me to want to feed her, I didn’t instinctively know what to do. Obviously I knew where to put her but what then? She didn’t seem interested in the slightest and whilst a midwife or two moved her around to try and get her to feed it was very short lived and instead we were given a bottle of formula. I’m not against formula at all (and this certainly isn’t written to spark any debate!), but in my head, I was going to breastfeed and I felt that things should have been happening differently.
When she woke in the night, I wanted to feed her but had no confidence that I would be able to. I called the midwifes each time and we tried to breastfeed. It’s safe to say that some midwives were better at explaining what to do, how to do it and how I could do it myself than others, but I appreciated any help I could get. The fact of the matter though was that Emily was 4 weeks early and was not at all interested in feeding- whether it was from me, a bottle or a cup! For the next 24 hours, I expressed what I could and midwives would come in every 3 hours to wake Emily up and cup feed her.

On the evening of day 2 I met with the lactation consultant. I’m sure if you’re in Shrewsbury and have older children you would remember Linda. She was awesome! I felt like we had a chance, and we had a feed or two whilst Linda was supporting me. But it wasn’t plain sailing and it was a case of trying and trying and trying. Emily was struggling to latch. We tried nipple shields, expressing first, every position going and still things weren’t going how I had been so convinced that they would. The night feeds gave us more time to try and master feeding, but as the days went on, Emily was losing weight and it became more and more important that we knew how much she was having. We made a note of every feed (a bit obsessively in hindsight) and I felt more comfortable giving her a bottle for this reason. We moved wards as I wanted more help with feeding and whilst I was having some help things just weren’t happening for us and after about 5 days I had decided that bottle feeding expressed milk was the best thing for both of us.

It was hard! I beat myself up about it massively and this wasn’t healthy for either of us. My health visitor was adamant that I should keep trying but I was finding it too stressful and Emily was still having my milk afterall, which is what I had wanted. My supply was plenty and expressing was doing to job just fine. Emily had expressed milk for 3 months before I couldn’t maintain it anymore. Getting up in the middle of the night was getting more and more difficult. Emily was sleeping through but I needed to keep expressing for comfort and to keep up my supply. I also had mastitis more times than I care to remember which left me unable to do anything, with awful fevers and the most incredible pain! The final straw was when mastitis left me lying on the sofa, freezing cold but sweating buckets, unable to even pick up my daughter because I felt so ill. I literally went cold turkey with the expressing and just rode it out until things calmed down.

Would things have been different if I had been to the classes? Maybe. I may have persevered a bit longer if I had had more confidence in what I was doing, but things worked out just fine for us in the end. All I wish is that I had been made aware of the problems that you may face when trying to breastfeed, that sometimes it’s not as easy as it is made out to be.

Obviously this is just my experience. I speak to so many new mums, some who find the whole thing incredibly easy and straight forward for both them and baby. And others who have struggled or are struggling but making progress. Every baby is completely different and there are so many uncontrollable factors that I believe contribute to the whole experience.

And I have perfect examples of that! My second baby, Edward was due in April 2017. This time around I went to the classes, read up about breastfeeding and made sure I knew exactly what I should be doing. But I always had in my mind that it might not happen, Edward may be early and the story may play out exactly the same way as it had first time around. This time I promised myself that I was not going to put pressure on myself! What will be will be!

Edward was 1 week early and born in March 2017. He was placed on my chest and started looking for food almost immediately! I fed him straight away first time, no problems at all. I was confident with how to hold Edward, how to encourage a good latch, how to spot a good latch, what signs to look for to make sure he was feeding well and I couldn’t believe how easy it was in different circumstances. And then I fed him for what felt like another 100 times that night and the next day because he wouldn’t stop eating for the first 36 hours! It was exactly how I thought it would be the first time! Of course, it helped that Edward was born term, that he was clearly thriving from breastmilk and hardly lost any weight. He was well past his birth weight at 7 days! The staff at the MLU in shrewsbury were also amazing (again), and, despite me asking approx. 1 million times if he was latched on ok, they checked, supported and helped me hugely. They allowed me to stay in hospital for an additional night to keep receiving the support and they really couldn’t do enough.
For the first week my nipples hurt (a lot!!) and my toes curled each time Edward wanted to feed. It wasn’t easy, but I felt prepared for that second time around! It’s also pretty incredible and I wouldn’t have traded the time I spent feeding Edward for anything. I fed him until he was 1 year old which seemed to be a natural stopping point for both of us. It helped us bond when times were pretty crazy and I also had a 2 year old running around. It was also so much easier in the middle of the night when I could just reach over and get him out of his crib without having to even get out of bed myself!

The main difference I truly believe, between my two experiences, is confidence in myself that I knew what I was doing. With Emily I felt like, because it didn’t just happen on it’s own, I couldn’t do it. It sounds so stupid but I genuinely didn’t realise there would be so much to learn for both me and my baby about breastfeeding! I was so prepared with Edward. I had researched so much and a lot of what I had been taught when I was trying to feed Emily helped me hugely. When it came to feeding Edward I knew what to do straight away which filled me with confidence and made the whole thing so much easier!

I guess the point of my writing this (other than to get it all off my chest) is to help new mums. Looking after your own baby is a huge job, especially with your first and I really do believe that, however you choose to do things, mummies everywhere do an incredible job! I know if I had known about all the support that is out there then things may have been easier with Emily, and if I had needed them with Edward or in the future, it’s nice to know that there are groups around to support you through your breastfeeding journey.

I’m sure there are more, but from searching the internet and social media groups I have listed a number of support networks, meet ups and people that can help you if you need some extra support or just a good chat with new mums in the same position:

Clinics:
In Shropshire, BURPS (Breastfeeding Understanding and Reassurance Project) in Shrewsbury runs two walk-in clinics, one at the Meole Brace Children’s Centre Area Base, Meole Primary School, on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 10:35 and one at Honeysuckle Lodge, Martin Wilson School, New Park Road, Castlefields, Shrewsbury on Thursdays from 10:30 to 12:00.

Useful videos and information for those thinking about breastfeeding their baby:
httpss://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/breastfeeding-resources/

Breastfeeding Oswestry facebook group:
httpss://www.facebook.com/BreastfeedingOswestry/?hc_location=ufi

And then Oswestry breastfeeding group- meet ups are arranged here:
httpss://www.facebook.com/events/520910418690424/

Shrewsbury breastfeeding support group (I have used this page a few times and it’s full of wonderful information and some very helpful mummies):
httpss://www.facebook.com/groups/332990180192246/

Information for the NCT Breastfeeding support counsellor in Shrewsbury:
httpss://www.nct.org.uk/local-activities-meet-ups/region-west-midlands/branch-shrewsbury/breastfeeding-support

Information about the Baby Buddy App which offers support from Bump to Baby
httpss://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/baby-buddy

Information about the hospital run breastfeeding workshops in Shrewsbury and Telford:
httpss://www.sath.nhs.uk/wards-services/az-services/maternity/classes-workshops/