Getting To Know Our Awards Finalists – Wellness Business Category sponsored by Shellie Wall Photography – Newborn & Baby Portrait Specialist

This wellness business category is sponsored by the super lovely Shellie at Shellie Wall Photography - Newborn and Baby Specialist. Shellie is based just outside Dereham in a wonderful studio suitable for little ones and their families! Shellie is a key business at all of our events and loves working with other businesses, and she happens to also be nominated in our photography category too!

Rowan House Health and Wellbeing Centre

Tell us about your business

I am a Children’s Physiotherapist and the centre manager of Rowan House. A Health and Wellbeing Centre conveniently situated just outside Norwich. The centre offers therapy space for therapists working in physical, social and emotional therapies as well as complementary and holistic health

Are there any areas which you specialise in?

Being a children’s physiotherapist, it was crucial to ensure that Rowan House was baby, child and family friendly and accessible to all. Soon after opening in 2015 it became clear that there was a demand for high quality pregnancy and baby services within a professional setting and our Pregnancy & Parenthood team of highly skilled professionals began to collaborate and thrive.

What do you love about the pregnancy, baby and child industry?

Working within the pregnancy, baby and child industry is a privilege and working with families at this unique time is very special. We take our role within this journey very seriously and work together to see our families thrive in their new roles and enjoy watching relationships flourish and seeing families grow over the years. We are always thrilled to welcome back families for a second, third and even fourth time.

What’s your favourite part to the run up to Christmas?

On a personal level Christmas with two 5 year olds is such a magical time. I particularly love reliving old traditions with grandparents such as our local Christingle service and going to the Norwich pantomime and starting our own traditions that may be they will pass on to future generations.

The Orange Grove Clinic

Tell us about your business

The Orange Grove Clinic opened its doors in 2011, its aim - to support families and individuals through particular health journeys and life changes by providing affordable wellness therapies and ongoing support for the people who needed it. What made the Orange Grove unique was its attention to its community, both at the clinic and online, and it’s desire to offer holistic individual care and advice.

Are there any areas which you specialise in?

Over the years the Orange Grove has streamlined its offerings to the essential core of massage, yoga, retreats and birthing services, with its focus on promoting self-care, mindfulness, movement, friendship and community, essentials for good health and wellbeing.

What do you love about the pregnancy, baby and child industry?

Co-founder, and now solo owner and lead of the Orange Grove Jackie Heffer-Cooke is a birth preparation expert, massage therapist and yoga teacher. She has spent 10 years specialising in hypnobirthing, pregnancy massage, baby yoga and pregnancy yoga so the Orange Grove has always had an instinctive passion for supporting pregnant and new mothers through what can be one of the most exhilarating but confusing times in a woman’s life. Jackie is a passionate birth educator and activist and is the chair of the local Maternity Voice Partnership, a voluntary role where Jackie is able to focus on aspects of the birthing services within a proactive thinktank environment.

What’s your favourite part to the run up to Christmas?

Christmas for us is a time to pause, reflect, and enjoy some time off with our own families. To raise a glass to all our efforts over the year, all the more evident as we watch the joyful faces of our precious children as they open presents we have helped to buy with our hard graft, ideas and effort. It’s a time for us business owners to rest, to eat, to drink, to be merry and to say ‘well done me’. You are allowed to do that. So… to all you business owners and entrepreneurial women out there… well done! And cheers to 2019!

Cherished Placentas

Tell us about your business

My business is definitely unique! I offer a personal service to mummies for them to have their placentas made into capsules

Are there any areas which you specialise in?

Being a part of the mummies journey to help her postnatally. From the very first consultation right up to the delivery of the capsules.

What do you love about the pregnancy, baby and child industry?

Having the opportunity to keep continually meeting new parents & parents to be & getting to see their families grow

What’s your favourite part to the run up to Christmas?

Going to as many Christmas events with my boys. Seeing their little faces light up is magical

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Next up we will be the 6-18 months category! Keep your eyes peeled!

 


My placenta journey - talking all things placenta encapsulation

I cannot express how much I love eating my placenta - (or to make it a little less squeamish - placenta encapsulation)!

But it's not just placenta encapsulation I love! The birth (and following weeks after birth) of my 2nd baby has been made a lot easier and chirpier with the help of Nikki from Cherished Placentas. I put this down to being able to put all the goodness of the powerhouse which my baby was living off for 40 weeks (well, in my case 39 weeks) being put back into me through smoothies, pills, face oil and body creams!

I dabbled in placenta encapsulation with my first born and felt stronger and brighter after birth than I ever expected - my skin and hair glowed, so I was sold on the benefits as I was physically seeing them! So naturally I NEEDED to do this again, and as fate had it - Nikki appeared in my life! Nikki emailed to get involved in the April show this year and I instantly got super excited ... fast forward around 7 months and she's played a massive role in the drama of 'The Atkinson's as a family of 4'. (And boy was it a drama in the first 4 weeks - doctors, hospital visits galore, house clearing - the list goes on)

 

I've heard and read lots of stories of ladies who have benefited from their placenta, even down to when woman have small pieces of placenta put between their gumline and cheek to be sublingually absorbed. This has been seen to facilitate clamping of the uterus and has helped stanch bloodflow - as stated by Margarett Scott, a certified midwife practicing in Oklahoma.

So my placenta journey began 6 weeks ago with a post birth smoothie, which I will NEVER forget! Firstly because my hubby had to 'pack up the placenta' in a bag, ready for Nikki to collect. It was HUGE! And he was disgusted! (He supports my placenta loving ways, but that's not to say he wanted to participate in it!) Nikki collected the placenta just an hour after birth and came back a few hours later with the most amazing smoothie I've ever tasted! The smoothie had so many berries in you couldn't tell there was any placenta! Infact I had no idea if I was sucking up berries or placenta! But what I did know was that it was AMAZING! And it left me feeling bubbly, bright and on top of the world!

Now, I know many ladies feel amazing post birth, but I didn't with my 1st so to feel so bright and ALIVE so close to giving birth, when I naturally would have started to feel a little rotten from hormones and sleepless nights, I believe must be down to all the nutrients I had absorbed in the smoothie! Not only did I feel good, my hair and skin instantly felt amazing and the initial introduction for our 1st born felt easier to handle with all the energy I had. I will never forget this feeling and just how incredible it tasted!

So that's my low down on placenta smoothie ... I have so much more to talk about, but I don't want to bombard you with too much information in one go, so I'll be doing a few more blogs before xmas on everything else I've been trying and enjoying from Nikki!

If you're even remotely interested in what you and your babies placenta can do for you after birth do get in touch with Nikki, she will also be with us at our xmas fair at The Forum on 9th December and the next big show in April!

Cherished Placentas Website


Getting To Know Our Awards Finalists – Family Business in Norfolk sponsored by Sheringham Cottages

This family business is sponsored by a great family business in Norfolk, Sheringham Cottages! This holiday cottage business offers 6 brilliant 4 star houses in the heart of Sheringham – minutes walk to the town centre, beach, golf course and glorious walks! Their houses are ideal for families looking for a coastal getaway and they have lots of future plans for the business! Off street parking, SKY TV, Wifi, leisure club pass – Sheringham Cottages really is a home away from home. This is a family business which has been running for over 20 years – what they don’t know about North Norfolk no-one does!

This category was vey tight, with just a matter of a few votes between most businesses, so we have 5 amazing finalists which are all highlighted below:

Window To The Womb Norwich

  1. Let us know a little about your business

We provide ultrasound scans for pregnant mums from 6 weeks to full term. Offering viability, well being, gender and 4D scans.

  1. How did your business come about? What inspired you?

We wanted to provide a pregnancy service to all the mums to be of Norfolk that was safe, affordable and friendly. We where inspired by 4D scan which we missed out on our children as they where very expensive and a long drive away.

  1. Tell us how your family support you and what do they do in your business?

Debs is the digital side of the business and I work with the team on the day to day of the business. Together we drive each other to give the best we can to our clients.

  1. What’s your favourite thing about this time of year?

Seeing families meet up together to see their unborn child/grandchild. Generally there is never a dry eye in the room!

Doodle Pots Holt

  1. Let us know a little about your business

Doodle Pots is a friendly pottery painting studio in Holt. As well as offering a fun craft activity for children and adults, we also offer a hand and footprint service to our customers with little ones. We love this side of our business, helping to create timeless keepsakes for parents by using their little one’s tiny fingers and toes.

  1. How did your business come about? What inspired you?

I worked at Doodle Pots whist studying for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and made great friends with the previous owner. After having a “proper job” for 5 years, I was offered to take on the studio. I literally jumped at the chance to have my own business. Leaving behind my secure job was terrifying, but the challenge of running a small enterprise was too appealing. My dad was extremely supportive, both financially and mentally, encouraging me to take a leap. I was inspired by my very first time in the studio, painting a piece with my mum on my 18th birthday. The magic of seeing your pot transform stayed with me throughout my job, and pushed me to want to share the experience with others.

  1. Tell us how your family support you and what do they do in your business?

My biggest support is my Dad. From the moment I frantically emailed him to say the business was potentially for sale, he has been behind me 100%. Not only did he support me financially in the purchase, he also sorts out all of our accounts, sources different advertising routes, keeps on top of the recycling and is chief cupcake buyer for the team! Doodle Dad is the best behind-the-scenes supporter.

My mum also works at the studio part time. Doodle Mum has very high paint brush and paint bottle cleaning standards and always makes sure everything is in order when she is in the studio.

Charlie, one of my best friends, is studio manager. Whilst I have been on maternity leave, Charlie has kept the studio more than just running, but has excelled in taking hundreds of creative baby prints. Doodle Charlie keeps me going and brings so many fresh ideas to the team.

My husband Sam has been amazing in letting me ditch my career and follow my heart. Doodle husband is also a carpenter (pretty damn handy when the studio needed a facelift).

We can’t forget Doodle Baby Willow, our newest team member, who supports us by creating cute new samples to show customers, but also provides the best form of distraction for the team.

  1. What’s your favourite thing about this time of year?

This time of year is the BEST, as we are beginning to see more and more babies and little people each day to create hand and footprint pottery for the festive season. The studio is always filled with a buzz between October and the end of December, we truly feel like Santa’s little elves.

Claire Carney Floral and Balloon Designs

  1. Let us know a little about your business

I am a freelance florist and Certified Balloon Artist (one of only two in Norfolk!). I create beautiful bespoke floral and balloon designs for both private and corporate clients, and focus on providing a tailored, personal service to create the perfect decor for every occasion!

  1. How did your business come about? What inspired you?

I was always happiest making things as a child but fell into a corporate career. When I had the chance of redundancy I took it and retrained in floristry and then balloon decor at college, and quickly realised I should have listened to my heart and gone for a creative career all along!

  1. Tell us how your family support you and what do they do in your business?

My husband is very supportive in many ways - as a sounding board, offering advice or an opinion as required, looking after the children or cooking (which he does much better than me...) Both of my daughters are keen to get involved and learn, and my mum and sister were my test pupils when I was assessed to become a balloon decor instructor. This came in handy as my mum was a fantastic help setting up at the PABS show earlier this year!

  1. What’s your favourite thing about this time of year?

My favourite thing about autumn is curling up on the sofa with my family on a Saturday night, with the fire lit and a glass of red wine watching Strictly

1offjewellery

  1. Let us know a little about your business

We specialise in special keepsake silver jewellery with children’s OWN prints, drawings, scan photos and handwriting to name just a few. We also have a memorial aspect of which we work closely with bereavement teams if families feel this is something that would give them comfort

  1. How did your business come about? What inspired you?

I originally got involved after buying and falling in love with my own descending heart in 2012 (which have added another 3 hearts since then!) from my (now) business partner. We got chatting and she mentioned wanting to set up home parties with consultants of which I became one. We went a different route to the original plans but my love for the jewellery remained and I became a director in 2015

  1. Tell us how your family support you and what do they do in your business?

I have 4 children 8,6,3 and 1 and due to the amount of child free time i have (ummmm not a lot!) they are very involved. Customers will often find a baby on my hip at a pop up shop or an answer to their email at 2am when up with a small person. My 2 eldest are fab at putting the kits together for me although they expect a wage from it :-)

  1. What’s your favourite thing about this time of year?

LOVE this time of year, as soon as August school holidays are done I’m ready for jumpers, cosy nights binge watching Netflix, Welly walks with little people , pumpkins and tinsel!

Little Land Soft Play

  1. Let us know a little about your business

We are Alex & Vanessa Day owners of Little Land ® Soft Play. We are the largest soft play hire company in Norfolk & Suffolk for children’s parties and all events. Our unique soft play and inflatable equipment is exclusively only available to hire from us under our trademarked brand Little Land®.

In addition to Soft Play we also hire Inflatables, Didicars and our newest venture, children's party tables and chairs, we aim to provide everything you need to hold an unforgettable party or event catering for under 7's!

  1. How did your business come about? What inspired you?

Alex has been involved in the Children's party industry since the age of 21 (and really most of his life before that), after graduating from University with a degree in Business he began working at his parents inflatable manufacturing company and Children’s Play Centre’s, where he learnt the manufacturing processes and children's party business from the ground up.

After the birth of our first daughter Imogen, we felt there was a gap in the market for a children’s party hire business especially catering for children 0-7, there was nothing available we really liked to hire for our own daughter and so we were inspired to set up a soft play hire business offering our own designed, unique non copyrighted hire packages, we also really love parties!

  1. Tell us how your family support you and what do they do in your business?

Our biggest inspiration has got to be our children Imogen and Ella, as they grow up the more parties they have and are invited to, as they become interested in new things the more ideas we seem to have and the more our business seems to grow and grow! We never want to stand still, we are always thinking of ways to keep things fresh, new and exciting!

Our daughter Imogen started school this September, after her first week at school she came home with a picture she had painted of “A BOUNCY CASTLE!” We all laughed!

  1. What’s your favourite thing about this time of year?

Our favourite thing about this time of year has to be the build up to Christmas! The only thing better than being a child at Christmas has to be being a parent, we always go over the top making their christmases magical, anyone who knows us knows we are both big kids and we’re huge fans of Disney! We actually got engaged at Disneyland Paris so we can’t even use the kids as an excuse for that! Every year we have two big Christmas trees full of Disney decorations and every year we add some more to the collection!

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Next up is Best blogger which will be covered early next week!


Getting To Know Our Awards Finalists – 0-6month baby classes in Norfolk sponsored by Cherished Placentas

I love the baby classes in Norfolk category because it reminds me of amazing time I spent with my 1st born … and excites me for the next 6 months with my newborn!

This category is sponsored by Cherished Placentas – a business which I feel very strongly about as I’m currently totally besotted with the magic of the placenta for new 1st/2nd/3rd….. time mums! The business is run my Nikki and she is also a complete darling! I will be covering the start of my placenta consuming journey over the weekend so do look out for this! Nikki is brilliant – personable, friendly and desperate to help new mums feel just a little better.

So …. Let’s hear from our category businesses…

Hartbeeps

Let us know a little about your business

At Hartbeeps Norwich we provide beautiful music based, highly interactive and super entertaining classes for babies and young children. Each week we take little ones on a magical Sound Journey where we explore different themes by meeting friendly puppet characters, sparkly props, funky dress ups, lights effects and much more, all with the soundtrack of the wonderful Hartbeeps music.

What’s your favourite part of the class?

My favorite part of the sessions is our "Quiet time". At the end of each session the lights go down and with the help of our sensory lights, snuggle kit (with our own Magic Sprinkle Oil, a lovely baby safe scent) and beautiful songs, we get children to enjoy a moment of calm and cuddles with their grown ups, before getting back to their world of busy. This is often children's favorite part too!

How do babies benefit from joining your classes?

It is well known that music helps children's body and mind working together, it facilitates early language acquisition, through dance and movement it strengthens their motor skills and gives them a way to express themselves.

Baby Bells class focuses on bonding between young babies and their grown ups through elements of baby yoga, baby massage, tummy time

Baby Beeps class focuses on bouncing, rhythm and sound play, stimulating little one's sense of balance to help them with crawling and walking and encouraging them to practice making sounds and putting together simple words.

Happy House class is full of energy and focuses on developing confidence and empathy and developing little one's vocabulary, spacial awareness and early numeracy.

We all have days which are more difficult than others - what is it about your business which motivates you?

Being a Hartbeeps session leader allows me to see babies and children grow and develop week by week. The joy and wonder I see in their little faces is the fuel I need to keep motivated. I've had a few babies that had their "firsts" in class, a first crawl, a first clap...being part of this special moments is priceless and always puts a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.

Water Babies Norfolk

Let us know a little about your business

We are Water Babies and we run classes across Norfolk teaching children to swim from new-born up to 6 years old. Our specialised methodology creates a bedrock foundation of Water confidence, ensuring children are confident, happy and safe around water from as early as possible.

What’s your favourite part of the class?

The full 30 minutes, each part of the lesson from the warm up to the cool down is full of fun, energy and most importantly is structured to help strengthen and develop a child’s swimming ability, confidence and enjoyment. I couldn’t single any part out because everything is as important as the next.

How do babies benefit from joining your classes?

Firstly we are all about teaching children to swim and we believe that early introduction to the aquatic environment benefits their long term development as a swimmer. Evidence shows that including physical exercise into your daily and weekly routine sets a child up for a lifelong habit of exercise and promotes healthy living all round. While in the pool a baby will get a full physical work out, especially developing and strengthening their vestibular system and working on hand eye co-ordination, alongside this, spending time with your baby in the water is fantastic for bonding, especially in our increasingly busy worlds. From a safety point of view we teach many techniques which ensure children have a healthy understanding of being safe around water which is so very important for us here in Norfolk with our rivers, broads and beaches.

We all have days which are more difficult than others - what is it about your business which motivates you?

Knowing how beneficial our course is, what a difference it makes for lots of our little swimmers, seeing the children progress and thrive in the water, makes the hard days SO much easier. But not only for the children, the parents too benefit massively from our teaching, and we have had so many mums talk about how coming to our classes has helped them to manage their PND.

Baby Sensory

Let us know a little about your business

Baby Sensory is a complete learning and development programme aimed at babies from birth to 13 months. We draw on years of research and experience to ensure each session is packed full of diverse and creative activities.

What’s your favourite part of the class?

The best bit of the day is when I see the smiles on the faces of the babies and grown ups, especially when someone has achieved something new.

How do babies benefit from joining your classes?

Babies who come to class experience a massive range of activities specifically designed to stimulate their senses and promote feelings of well being - boosting brain power and providing a much needed boost to their immature immune systems.

We all have days which are more difficult than others - what is it about your business which motivates you?

Being around young babies and their parents during the early months is a huge privilege, it can be an incredibly vulnerable time and I get a real kick from providing a safe, welcoming environment for them to come and enjoy together.

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Join us later in the week for a blog on the fab ‘Family Category’ sponsored by Sheringham Cottages!


Getting To Know Our Awards Finalists - Baby and Child Boutique in Norfolk sponsored by HER Business Revolution

Earlier in the week I covered our photography category, so next up is the lovely baby and child boutique in Norfolk category.

This category is sponsored by the lovely Serena at HER Business Revolution which offers business strategies, support and empowerment to passionate and ambitious female entrepreneurs. Since launching in March 2015, the HER Business Revolution has grown to be one of the most successful and supportive women's business network, and female entrepreneur training and empowerment platforms! 'We are constantly expanding and attracting new members across the UK and beyond' says the founder, Serena Fordham! Join their kick-arse community of passionate female entrepreneurs here!

This awards category comprises of 3 stunning independent businesses who are creating and selling the most beautiful baby and child items! All amazing contenders! I caught up with them all to learn a little bit more about what they do and who they are!

the night feed.

1.Tell us a little about your business

At the night feed we love to create fresh and bold designs for babies and toddlers to show off their awesome personalities, celebrated through our personalised products! If personalisation isn't your thing then we also sell non personalised mother and baby merch! We also have a range of tees and totes which celebrate breastfeeding and these help to raise money for Breastfeeding Mum Meets all over Norfolk.

2. What inspired you to start selling?

My little wild child was all the inspo I needed! In June 2017, when he was 5 months old I made the tough decision to resign from teaching, and the night feed was born. I knew I wanted to start something that would reflect how amazing these tiny humans are, but I also wanted to keep it honest and not all picture perfect (hence my insta stories...poos, floor - enough said!)

3. What’s your favourite product this season?

Oooh, I’m not sure I can choose between our new range of teething necklaces and our personalised Christmas sacks (which will be released in November, so keep checking our insta for a sneak peak)

4. What would be your ideal family day out?

Anywhere with nice views and good walks – Dex loves being outside and exploring. When I’m outside enjoying nature and the fresh air I get lots of new ideas and feel at my happiest. Cambridge is one of my favourite places for a nice stroll as it has lots of nice green spaces, and stunning views.

Marshes & Flint Lifestyle Store

1. Tell us a little about your business

Marshes & Flint - The Little Lifestyle Store is a family lifestyle boutique located at Creake Abbey just outside Burnham Market, and online. We offer a curated collection of the most beautifully designed children’s lifestyle brands from both Norfolk around the world, giving our customers a fabulous selection of products to shop under one roof.

2. What inspired you to start selling?

After meeting at a Mother & Baby group just over three years ago we both felt like there was nothing in Norfolk which brought together independent children’s brands which we loved and used as mothers with a modern lifestyle approach. During our first coffee meet up the idea for Marshes & Flint surfaced, but ultimately our children inspire everything we do.

3. What’s your favourite product this season?

It has to be Fable Heart’s magical capes, wands and crowns. They are the perfect unique gift for any child. Lovingly handmade and sprinkled with magic by amazing artisan mumma of three Claire, who is just a dream to work with.

4. What would be your ideal family day out?

Didi: It would have to start at Stiffkey Stores with coffee, hot chocolate for A and almond croissants, this is normally followed by a quick visit to feed the ducks and see the horses on the farm down the road. If it’s sunny it will always be a walk on the beach if not Burnham Overy Staithe along the costal path. Finishing the day with the best fish and chips in Norfolk at Eric’s in Thornham.

Becky: We love heading to Thornham Deli for brunch followed by a bike ride through the deer park at Holkham Hall. The play park and woods are perfect for children of all ages. Alfy and Nellie love collecting fir cones and treasures in their chari bags before finding the perfect spot for a picnic by the lake. On our way home we always stop off at Creake Abbey Cafe for tea and cake and a play in the sandpit.

Little Dottie Designs

1. Tell us a little about your business

Little Dottie Designs is a small business which specialises in locally designing and hand making childrenswear, all inspired by our home Norfolk.

All our garments are designed with children in mind- creating classic, nostalgic pieces which are long lasting and comfortable to wear. Our fabrics are often inspired by our home Norfolk, to reflect the seasons.

2. What inspired you to start selling?

I became a Mother to Lilah Dottie in 2017 and found myself searching for beautiful, traditional and versatile childrenswear for her. Instead of buying from the high street, I opted to use my creative talents and hand-make original pieces.

This sparked my passion for home sewing and Little Dottie Designs brand was born.

3. What’s your favourite product this season?

This season my favourite product is our Ophelia Dress. A beautifully classic style, featuring a Peter Pan collar, lined bodice, long sleeves and full skirt. This design looks great in all our fabrics (rust linen a personal favourite) and also teamed up with our ribbed cotton tights or socks.

4. What would be your ideal family day out?

My ideal family day out would be a trip to the Norfolk Coast. Somewhere Lilah can run around and explore nature. We love being outdoors and watching her enjoy her surroundings by exploring.

Then a treat of coffee and cake at one of our favourite cafes. Popping into a traditional near by town to explore quirky shops before heading home.

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Catch up with us next week where we will be featuring award finalists from the Family Business category and 0-6month Baby Class/Service category!


Getting to know our award finalists - Newborn and family Photography in Norfolk category

Over the next 6 weeks I will be covering all our award categories and blogging about our shortlisted businesses twice a week! To kick things off I am covering the 'Newborn and family Photography in Norfolk' category which is kindly sponsored by Jen at Love Hypnobirthing!

Jen is so lovely and is building not only an incredible Hypnobirthing business based in Dereham, but she is also the lady behind the fab Facebook Group - Warrior Mums Norfolk Chat Group, a group for us mums in Norfolk!

We are so lucky to have such amazing local photographers in Norfolk. The public has voted to put through 3 amazing photographers to our awards final. I caught up with all 3 and asked them each a few questions about themselves and their fab businesses! It is so clear that each of these ladies put so much love, care and attention into customer service and our precious little babies, creating the most stunning images for parents to keep forevermore! I would highly recommend each business if you are looking for a local photographer to capture your bundles of joy!

Shellie Wall Photography - Newborn and Baby Portrait Photography

1. Where are you based and what’s your speciality? 

Yaxham, Dereham, Norfolk. I specialise in Newborn portraiture, capturing newborn babies aged 5-14  days new.

2. Tell us about you! What does your ideal winter Sunday consist of?

My ideal Sunday would start with a Dog walk at Wells-next-sea, especially the pine woods. Back home to snuggle up on the sofa in front of the wood burner watching a film with a cup of hot coco. So rock and roll!

3. What’s your favourite type of image to capture? 

I'm passionate about capturing the newness of every baby brought to me. The little details, fluffy ears and shoulders, tiny fingers and toes, and cute little curls.

4. What do you love most about your job?

Making a connection with people. My clients are so lovely! I love being able to create memories, capturing that moment in time forever! Luckily this year I have been able to set up a non profitable session called Sunshine and Rainbows, which is tailor made sessions for families who have a baby, or child who is life limited or life threatened.

Jess Wilkins Photography - Newborn and Family Photography

1. Where are you based and what’s your speciality?

I am based in Norwich, Norfolk (Sprowston) and I specialise in newborn and family photography, with a natural & timeless style. I photograph everything from bumps, cake smashes & babies in the studio. Once children can toddle photoshoots take place outdoors.

2. Tell us about you! What does your ideal winter Sunday consist of?

My ideal winter Sunday would be a lazy morning in pjs chilling with the kiddies. Then wrapping up warm and going for a long walk with the dog, we are so lucky in Norfolk to be close to the coast and lots of woodland areas.

3. What’s your favourite type of image to capture?

My favourite image to capture is far too hard to choose, it can be a close up of a brand new baby’s little face yawning, siblings cuddling up or capturing the love between parents and their children.

4. What do you love most about your job?

The thing I love most about my job, is meeting so many lovely families. All at different stages of parenthood, and getting those previous photos they so want! I really have the best clients.

Beau Baby Photography - Photography by Rachael Cole

1. Where are you based and what’s your speciality?

Based in Horsford, Norwich in my cute & cosy home studio. My speciality is providing beautifully posed, elegant yet simple newborn portraits. I’m not big on props & outfits, I prefer to make my shots all about baby. I use understated accessories to compliment but for me it’s about creating timeless, classical, beautifully lit photographs.

2. Tell us about you! What does your ideal winter Sunday consist of?

Oooo I LOVE cosy winter days! We have just started our own ‘tradition’ on Sundays since my eldest started school-all 3 of my kiddies have swimming lessons on a a Sunday morning so once we are home it’s lunch, cleaning out the chickens, then Family Film Time with popcorn followed by a roast dinner. If I didn’t have young kiddies I’m sure it would look somewhat different & involve lazy breakfasts in bed & coffee shop coffee

3. What’s your favourite type of image to capture?

I utterly love capturing mummy & baby images. They are my absolute favourite. Mums often get a bit emotional as I use little prompts to ensure I capture that amazing connection...I get goose bumps just thinking about it!!

4. What do you love most about your job?

This is a tough one to answer! There are so many things I love about it. I love that I can be creative & I love that my job is an art form. But I guess what I love most (or feel most privileged about I guess) is that families trust me with their babies who are just days old, at one of the most vulnerable times in their own lives. They trust me to look after them and to capture the start of this most incredible journey for them. It’s truly such an honour.

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Catch up with us later in the week where we will be chatting to our award finalists in the Best Baby/Child Boutique category!


Highlighting #nicuawarenessmonth with Vicki Cockerill

I openly regard the birth of my eldest son as one of the worst times of my life. One where I felt unprepared, uneducated and unable to do anything to help or change a thing. This is why #nicuawarenessmonth is so important to me!

Being a NICU (Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit) Mum was one of the hardest things I have ever had to accept. Whilst we were in hospital we were guided, we followed the routine of the hospital, it was as if we were living in a different world.

A world where we ate every meal in the hospital canteen, where are hands were cracked from the hand sanitiser and we went to sleep with the machines and alarms ringing in our ears.

Going Home

We had that end goal, to get home. But then when you do finally get there you become lost.

People sympathising that it must have been hard, but it’s okay as you’re home now. Chapter over, move onto the next, put it behind you.

But, what people don’t talk about is how it really feels to be a NICU Mum or parent. You keep in all of your feelings until one day you feel like you will implode. You begin to sink into a world of depression, a ground hog day reliving the NICU over and over.

Anger

We don’t freely talk about how angry you are that this happened to you, how bitter you become for those that go in and don’t have to face the onslaught of NICU, coming home on the same day.

You feel as though you can’t talk about it, you’re being insensitive to others, you should consider yourselves lucky, it could have been worse.

That it is over now, it’s time to move on.

Pity

You shy away, you don’t want the pity, you want to be a normal parent. You hide away at home and relive it until you can’t bear it any longer.

Having a child in NICU for any length of time is one of the most traumatic times of your life. If someone you knew had gone through an accident or event would you encourage them to talk about it? To process it, or would you tell them to move on quickly?

With NICU, parents are just expected to get home and put that ‘tough time’ to bed.

People feel uncomfortable about talking about NICU. Whilst I understand not everyone will want to be as vocal as me, it is important we begin to talk openly about it and the effects it has on someone’s life, finances, relationships and more importantly their mental health. The majority of parents will develop Post Natal Depression or like me, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Media

Parenting magazines and websites have unrealistic images of birth and starts to motherhood. There is such a lack of images portraying life in NICU, there is no way or normalizing NICU despite 1 in 10 babies in the UK being admitted to NICU.

The first thing I really knew about NICU was standing outside the double doors waiting to go and find my newly born son in the high dependency room.

Normality

I didn’t know how I should deal with it, if it was even normal what I was feeling and I was lost. In a sea of unrealistic images on social media of how it should look like when you go in and give birth I felt as though I failed.

That is was my fault, that I did something wrong. Months on when I couldn’t move on I had nothing to refer to, no one openly talking about whether it was okay to feel like this or not.#nicuawarenessmonth

That’s when I knew I had to speak out, and this is why we need to talk about NICU.

September is #nicuawarenessmonth where we honour all those past and present NICU babies and their families as well as acknowledging the amazing job the NICU Nurses and Doctors do each and every day.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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Nausea in pregnancy

What Can Help For Nausea In Pregnancy by Rebecca at TREAT Norwich

For many women, suffering from nausea in pregnancy can interfere greatly with their quality of life. Commonly called “morning sickness’ nausea with or without vomiting can occur any time during the day or night. It’s unpleasant and in some cases women can be diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum; a severe type of pregnancy sickness that requires specialist care, it can lead to hospitalisation due to dehydration and not getting enough nutrients in your body.  

Nausea in pregnancy does not put your baby at risk and usually clears up by weeks 16-20. Let’s take a look at some very practical ways that women can do themselves to help nausea.

Blood Sugar Balance 

Eating regular small snacks will help stabilize your blood sugars which can help reduce nausea. Eating before you actually get hungry every 1 ½ -2 hours is the key. The snack doesn’t need to be big but regular, but be mindful that overeating can also increase nausea. Sugary foods are best avoided as they can increase your blood sugars rapidly.

It is a common experience that women are naturally turned off from eating healthy options in the first trimester, such as vegetables, salads, brown bread, while more comforting and starchy foods such as white bread, potatoes, meat pies, white pasta can actually help settle the stomach.  In early pregnancy the baby is attached to its own yolk sac for nutritional nourishment, so there is no need for women to feel guilty about not being able to eat a healthy diet at this stage.

Fluid Intake

Drinking regular water and keeping fluid levels up is vital in pregnancy.  During pregnancy water is needed to flush out toxins, help digestion and aid the absorption of nutrients and restore and revitalise the body.  Even slight dehydration can make nausea worse. Signs of dehydration are dry lips, feeling thirsty, and a reduction in urination. Please notify your midwife or GP if your urine output is greatly diminished.

Smells

Many women notice changes in their sensitivity to certain smells which can greatly increase nausea. Some women are unable to cope with cooking smells or smells of other people, open the fridge, use toiletries/cleaning products or smell coffee.

The following tips may be helpful:

-Put sliced lemons or limes in a jar and smell them when you experience sensitive smells. If you go out place a hole in the end of a lemon or lime and wrap in kitchen roll.

-Use a diffuser of peppermint oil in the room you are in.

-Change toiletry/cleaning products.

-Ask someone else to do the cooking for you.

Acupressure points for Nausea in Pregnancy

Here are 3x Acupressure points which are well known for nausea which you can press.  The acupressure technique is very simple, it is not a massage technique but rather a firm continuous pressure.

  • Usually acupressure points are more sensitive than surrounding areas, which will help you know that you are in the right place.
  • Press every point until a numbing feeling is produced approximately 30 secs at a time, you can press all three points in a sequence and then repeat as many times as you feel you need.
  • Some points produce a stronger effect than others, so test and work out which ones are best for you.
  • You can repeat pressing the points as often as you want. There is no limit on the number of exercises per day.
  • If someone else is pressing the points ask them to press both left and right at the same time. If you are doing a self treatment press one side and then the other.
  • When applying deep pressure the active point is expected to hurt initially. If it is too painful reduce the pressure to a “comfortable” level but persist with pressure on the active point so you still have a good sensation. Increase the pressure as the initial painful sensation begins to subside. Continue the massage until a numbing feeling is produced.

Nausea in pregnancyLocation: in the hollow under the collar bone, next to the breastbone. To find the point follow the clavicle until it connects to the breastbone where the tender point is. If you have difficulty following the clavicle bone, move your shoulder back and forth. Images illustrating location of acupuncture points (deadman et al, 2007).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nausea in pregnancyLocation: on the interior side of the arm, in the hollow between the bones of the forearm and between the two tendons, three finger-widths above the wrist crease. Images illustrating location of acupuncture points (deadman et al, 2007).

N.B Sea sickness bands are often applied to this point with good success.

 

 

 

 

 

Nausea in pregnancy

Location: in the depression directly below inner ankle bone. Images illustrating location of acupuncture points (deadman et al, 2007).

 

 

 

 

 

If you struggle to find the acupressure points, please contact our Acupuncture team at treat-Norwich Complementary Clinic which who will be more than happy to help you find the right points. Or book into our Community Multi-Bed Clinic for Acupuncture for £24 a treatment.

Rebecca Geanty

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Going back to work after maternity leave

Returning to work after maternity leave with confidence by Sam James

Going back to work after maternity leave

For a lot of women, returning to work after maternity leave can be an emotionally challenging time, often associated with a lack of confidence. There are numerous research studies that have shown that the majority of women feel that their confidence has dropped since becoming a mum. If you are reading this and nodding your head, please remember that you are not alone in this. In fact you are in very good company! Secondly, lets put this into context - your life has changed dramatically since you began your maternity leave. You will have been through such a roller coaster of emotions, felt things you didn't know it was possible to feel in such an intense way, been at the mercy of so many hormonal fluctuations, and probably feeling pretty sleep deprived too!

So, now that you know that you are not alone and that there are lots of logical reasons to be feeling like this, what can you do about it? There are some great things you can do, that will start to boost your confidence again, so that you can walk into work feeling good.

Get clear on what feeling confident really means to you. How confidence looks and feels is different for everyone, and for different situations. You can be confident in one situation and a wobbly, nervous wreck in another. The key to confidence, is about understanding what it means to you and what helps you feel confident. I often ask people to think about a time when they felt really confident, and then from here you can start to learn about your confidence. What did you do, that enabled you to feel confident? Some examples are to do with what you are wearing, make-up, feeling prepared, feeling calm. Going back to work after maternity leave

Remind yourself of your successes. Remind yourself of the things that you have achieved. When your inner chatter starts telling you all the things you can't do or haven't done well you can remind them that you have actually succeeded at these things.

Connect with colleagues / friends before returning to work. Reaching out and reconnecting with people you enjoy spending time with at work, will help you start to feel part of it all again. They can give you the low down of what has been happening whilst you have been away.

Don't do it alone.  Whether it is a supportive partner, or family members and friends. Talk to them. Approach this as a team effort - it doesn't all have to be on your shoulders and in your head. There may be things that other people can help out with, that you hadn't thought of. 

Ask work for help. The majority of work places are supportive and accommodating to the needs of new parents, especially when they know what they are! It can be easy for colleagues / managers to be unaware of what it is like to return to work (or if they are mums themselves, they may have forgotten). Don't be afraid to ask for support. Is there someone who can be a buddy whilst you settle back in?

Be kind to yourself . It might take time to find your feet again, to familiarise yourself with any technical things or be taught new things. Don't expect to turn up on day one and be back to your normal levels of productivity! It will return, but in the same way that if your colleague was returning from long-term sick leave you would expect them to take some time to get back to full speed, allow yourself the same generosity.

Clarity on your new boundaries. Returning to work as parent, means that you will be returning with different priorities, possibly different hours. Be realistic about what can / can't achieve; discuss these with your manager. Focus on what you can do, as this will boost your belief in yourself rather than feeling like can't do everything. This also follows in terms of personal life - maybe some things need to take a back seat whilst you adjust to the new rhythm of being a working parent.

Do not feel guilty about finishing when you have done your hours. I have heard many people saying "I feel guilty for leaving work early". In reality they are not leaving work early. They are finishing work when they have completed their contracted hours. Clocking off becomes a whole new focus when you become a parent, because often you need to get back and collect the little one(s) by a particular time (agreed with the chidminder / nursery). I talk to a lot of parents who struggle with this, because they worry their colleagues think they aren't pulling their weight etc. Stop right there! You are working your contracted hours, the hours you are getting paid for. Far too often, people are working above and beyond their hours. This isn't a good thing, regardless of whether you have kids or not. Know your boundaries, and work within them. Inspire others to do the same - work to live, not live to work. 

Please remember that you have totally got this! You are not alone in your worries and wobbles, I promise you that there are lots of women out there feeling the same and that it does get easier with time.

Love Sam from Sam James Coaching

x

If you’d love more ideas on boosting your confidence, come along and see Sam at The Parent and Baby Show on Sunday 16th Sept. Sam is also running a talk offering tips to help you return to work with confidence and how to cope and deal with the stresses of maternity leave ending!

 


The Happiness Branch

Mindful parenting – How can being in the moment help me and my child by Gemma at The Happiness Branch

Mindfulness means ‘paying attention in the present moment non-judgementally’, this is the definition by Jon Kabat Zinn who is responsible for helping bring Mindfulness to the western world and into science, alongside Mindful Parenting which I will later focus on. There is loads of science and research around the benefits of Mindfulness, for example did you know it shrinks areas of the brain responsible for anxiety and stress and grow areas responsible for learning and problem solving? Pretty cool that you can actually change your brain.

So, what is Mindfulness and how can it help us as parents?

Mindfulness can be sitting and meditating or it can be mindful movement such as yoga, walking or bringing Mindfulness to everyday activities such as washing up, bringing in as many of the senses in these activities as you can. The most important element of practicing Mindfulness is non-judgement. I remember when I first started to learn Mindfulness I noticed how busy my mind was and how impatient I was just sitting and meditating when I had so much to do in my busy life. The amount of people who ask me questions about Mindfulness or feel they can’t do it, 99% of the time its because they are bringing judgement. Judgement about themselves ‘I can’t do this’, judgement about others ‘why can they do this’ and it was only letting this go that they were able to practice it. So, think about how you can be non-judgemental and be kind to yourself.

In terms of parenting, I was teaching a mindfulness class to a lovely group of ladies and one of them noticed that her little girl liked to count the numbers on the wheelie bins on the way to school and nursery and she would always rush her along, having rushed shoes and coats on etc. When she slowed down and noticed the numbers and noticed the things her children were noticing a bit like the wheelie bins, she got to school and nursery quicker in the mornings! Slowing down actually helped her speed up! The other mums in the group decided to try this and found similar benefits. I also found last year in an experiment I led, that it takes just 21 days of Mindfulness to make a habit. People who carried out a small amount of Mindfulness every day for 21 days were 9% more focused and aware, and coupled with other positive psychology activities were 15.3% happier and mindful overall.

So, some Mindfulness activities you can do with your children, I ran a parent and child Mindfulness session last year and these were very popular.

  • Calm jars – use this guide from my website and create pretty calm jars to help teach children about emotions and mindfulness. https://www.thehappinessbranch.com/calm-jars
  • Colouring is always a good one, I know I love a good colouring book myself! Discuss what happens when you/your child goes outside of the lines? Identify what judgements are happening and try and let them go, what thoughts come into your mind? Noticing what’s going on in the present moment.
  • Spiderman senses, this one is a fun one, pretending you are Spiderman to tune into your Spiderman senses! http://kidsrelaxation.com/uncategorized/spider-man-practicing-mindfulness-and-increasing-focus/
  • Headspace app – the headspace app has a kid’s section and there are different meditations tailored to each age group, worth a try!

For parents, how can we be more mindful and in the present moment? We can do the Spiderman senses activity (if anything it will make us giggle and I can tell you that alone will have beneficial effects on your brain) but seriously just checking in with your senses and asking what you see, hear, feel in that moment, even just taking a few moments a day. Remembering non-judgement, remembering you are human and ultimately just being kind to yourself is so important.

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The Happiness BranchIf you want to learn more about Mindfulness I’d love you to join me online on my complimentary Mindfulness live session on Facebook 7.30pm on the 30th August, follow ‘The Happiness Branch’ on Facebook for more details.

As a qualified Mindfulness teacher I also have a few spaces left on my 8 weeks of Mindfulness course, learn the tools to a more Mindful life in the comfort of your own home in a supportive online group environment: https://www.thehappinessbranch.com/book-online


Travelling with a 3 month old – things to think about by Adam at You've Got All This To Come

Hi I'm Adam .... and I'm writing this blog about travelling with a 3 month old after just coming back from a lovely trip to the Suffolk coast, which may be a bit controversial for a Norfolk blog but the experiences are interchangeable for anyone spending time away from their usual routine (or your best attempt at a routine with a small human).

There are certainly plenty of stunning places to stay in Norfolk, especially on the coast, and if you’re staying in a B & B or a holiday let then I’m hoping this is useful for you! These won’t be the bits of advice you’re expecting, but they will be things you are glad someone else has thought of for you. You obviously won’t have enough to think about without me adding more!

Travelling with a 3 month oldLet me set the scene first. It’s an idyllic little holiday let overlooking the coast, removed from streetlights, occasionally catching the odd boat on the horizon. Your room is perfectly sized for a couple without children, and just about perfect for a Moses basket alongside the bed as well. So far, so good. Then you put the kid/kids to bed, mostly without incident or any major hassle. At this point, you’re thinking “A) This wouldn’t happen with my kids, and b) but where’s this going? Get on with it!”

Over the course of the next couple of nights I realised just how much on autopilot I am when at home during the night. You take so many things for granted when in your usual routine. Here are some things that might just save you waking your little one in the darkest hours of the night:

  • Don’t forget your bed is different. Whilst you know the route to sneaking in unnoticed at home, don’t assume the same when away. Does it squeak? Metal beds have a brilliant way of surprising you as you attempt to slide your way in (as I found out)! Then don’t forget you’ve got the mattress to contend with, not all springs are created equal – this one had a tendency to really give just on the edge. One misplaced hand and I could have easily wedged myself between bed and Moses basket!
  • Beware of random knick-knacks. Potential baby-waking hazards everywhere. This place had little ornaments hanging off the door handles, which I promptly knocked off when getting up to go to the loo. My heart stopped for a second when it slapped onto the floor, and my brain must have stopped as I then decided to put it back on the handle where I found it. I would recommend a quick scan for anything that might get hit by a stray, tired limb at 2 in the morning. This leads onto point number three…
  • One of the brilliant things about escaping to the coast is that there tends to be little or no outside lighting. This means stargazing on a clear night is fantastic. What it means in a confined room with blackout blinds is that you’re feeling out in the dark to make your way back into bed. I found myself doing that weird walk where you slide your feet forward in front of you and was grateful that my wife couldn’t see me doing it!
  • You can guarantee that those doors that have been perfectly silent throughout the day will be squeaking all over the place when it’s night time. Consider leaving them open if you can!
  • Mealtimes can be a bit tricky when you’re away, and you need to consider how it fits in your holiday routine. Cost is important, and staying somewhere with its own kitchen brings a ton of perks (fridge for your evening tipple when they’re asleep – or kettle for me!) for family travel. We packed a small Tupperware with a few Weetabix and Cheerios, and this catered for our little girl. The other bonus is that if you eat outside, any scraps get nabbed by seagulls (and if you’re eating with a little one, there will almost certainly be bits on the floor). Make the most of the weather and save yourself cleaning time later on! (I’m not advocating littering by the way- just speaking from experience of seeing those greedy scavengers!)
  • Don’t forget a change in routine can be disruptive to your children. Luckily, if they’re anything like my 2-year-old, the introduction of a toy or small activity can be a huge distraction. Make sure you pack a couple of their favourite small toys. We have a great little fishing game that comes in a handy small tin from Tiger. A pack of crayons and a few sheets of paper won’t take up too much room and give you options on a rainy day!

Travelling with a 3 month oldWith all of that said, the most important thing is knowing your baby’s routine and how sensitive they are to their surroundings. Armed with a mix of sensible (planning everything in advance) and silly (like I’ve pointed out above), you’ll have an amazing time like we did and wonder what all the fuss was about!

Adam is a blogger and writes at You've Got All This To Come. He is also up for Norfolk Blogger in our industry awards!


How to write the perfect blog

How to write the perfect blog by Vicki Cockerill

Vicki Cockerill freelance bloggerBlogs are one of the most popular ways to communicate information, news and opinions. We read blogs every day, they can be used to drive traffic to your website and help with your brand awareness. But, where do you start? Here are my tips and tricks on how to write the perfect blog!

 

My Story

I wanted to help others who had been through what we had with Elijah’s NICU admission, and someone suggested starting a blog, The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum Blog was born.

Fast forward to now, and I am now a freelance blogger who gets paid to write for a number of small business and national websites.

Where Do You Begin?

How to write the perfect blog

A good way to begin your blog is to think what platform you are going to use to publish your blogs. There are 2 categories you will fall into:

  1. Are you an aspiring blogger looking to start a fab blog?
  2. Are you a business looking to direct more traffic to your website, increase sales or brand awareness?

If you're the latter - then you will need to look at how you can add a blog to your website as this is where you essentially want your potential customers to go and explore. There's no point having a separate blog as this could confuse people and send them away from your website!

If you're the aspiring blogger then this isn't quite so important - you have free reign on how to create your blog, and what platforms you can use! Sites such as WordPress or Blogger (which are both free) are a great way to start your journey, as many can be easily customized and are fairly easy to use.

Once you have decided your platform you are ready to start!

Find Your Focus

Do you know who your target audience is? Are they your customers? Who are your customers exactly and what do you think they want to read about? What do you have to offer them that they haven’t read before?

Do you have a niche – my blog is defined as a parent blog but focuses on three subjects mainly, NICU, CHD and mental health these are what most of my blog topics are centred around.

Have a theme or two that your blog is built around, and the more you blog on this subject the more you will be considered as an ‘expert’ or ‘authority’ on it which makes your blog more credible.

Be YOU

In the sea of blogs out there you need to stand out and you can do that by being you. Be relatable and just be yourself and it will shine through in your blog writing.

The Technical Bits

Here are a few technical pointers when your writing your blog post;

Have your chosen topic; ‘A review of’, ‘Top tips for new born sleep’ etc and this is what your post will be built around.

Have a bold headline that draws people in and also tells them what they are about to read, get creative and think what would you type into Google to read your blog post?

Write down 4 or 5 keywords; baby, sleep, new born, sleep habits etc and make sure you litter the blog with these.

Keep paragraphs short and snappy.

Add some visual interest with subheadings, bold words and italics, bullet points.

How do you read your blogs? On your phone? Many do so make sure it is easy to read on the go, people will click off if there are lengthy hard to read pieces of text. Aim for 500-800 words per post.

Worried about spelling/ grammar? Many platforms have a checker built in, but remember this is a blog and not War and Peace it’s okay to be a bit informal. Ask friends or family to proof read if you are still worried.

Links

Include links to other blogs, other pages on your website or past published blogs this will help increase search engine ratings and increase clicks. Try and have at least three links per post.

When you really get going why not host some guest blogs, and offer to guest blog for others? It really does help with brand awareness and getting your name out there to a different audience.

Images

Have visually interesting and relevant image on the post to capture people’s attention. If you don’t have one there are some great sites such as Canva and Flicker that have free copyright stock images.

Post, Post, Post

Do not be shy about sharing your blog all over social media, newsletters, ask friends, family and customers to share it too.

Ask other small businesses to share your blog too, remember sharing is caring!

That goes for responding to comments, and likes on your blog too, build your loyal readership by engaging with those taking the time to leave comments.

Pay Attention

Pay attention to what your readers enjoy and what they don’t as this will give you an idea of what topics are popular among your readers.

Try not to get to hung up on stats (many platforms have the facility for you to view number of hits/ page views etc) for now just enjoy what you’re doing.

Try and update with a new blog regularly but make sure you are being realistic, once a week/ month it is whatever you have the time to do.

It can be easy to lose your head in the blogosphere so keep it on brand, be yourself and write on a subject that you know about and pretty soon you will be able to add blogger to your repertoire!

 

Vicki Cockerill is a NICU/ CHD Mum of two boys, a freelance blogger, Co-Founder of @KnackeredandNorwich social club and mental health advocate.

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5 reasons to carry your baby

5 Reasons to carry your baby by Angeline at Sleepynico

If you asked me why you should carry your baby I could give you many answers, it's not as straightforward as a list of bullet points. Some days you carry your child because they need you and it's the easiest way to be close; others you find it's because you need them but have to get on with life – other children need to be fed or the shopping has to be done and that little body snuggled up next to yours is keeping you sane! Here's my 5 reasons to carry your baby blog.

I didn't think about carrying my first daughter. I was given5 reasons to carry your baby a sling along with a car load of baby equipment and clothes by a wonderful friend. I was so excited when she unloaded it all past my big bump and into the 'nursery' (a room that was in fact never used). It was left gathering dust for some months whilst I recovered from a difficult c-section. In the meantime my sister gave me a stretchy wrap and I read the instructions and followed videos but never felt confident. It was frustrating as I had a baby who it seemed could never be put down. Then a friend recommended a different brand to me, it was black, functional and most importantly for me, felt secure. For the first time I felt confident to carry my baby and walk around outside with her in it. Finally I had some freedom. I used this carrier for some months, enjoying London with a little one but never straying too far as it was uncomfortable on my shoulders. One chilly winter's morning when she was about six months old I walked half way across South London to get to a playgroup (the days when I had nothing much to do and no restrictions on my time!!). I arrived tired and uncomfortable and was greeted by a vision of calm, maternal loveliness and a lady carrying her baby in the most beautiful carrier I had ever seen. I bought one the next day.

If I look back at those first six months of carrying my first daughter I can see a number of reasons why I needed to carry her and wanted to use a sling and they were really about freedom. It didn't matter that what I had was functional or even uncomfortable what was important is it allowed me to do things and that's how I saw it. When I bought my SleepyNico I found several other reasons – comfort, closeness and style!

So why carry your baby in a sling?

  1. Freedom – however you look at it, having your hands free allows you to do so many things. If you have other children you can hold their hands whilst carrying your baby. You can carry shopping, do the cooking, paint a picture, bake a cake. All this activity can go on whilst your baby remains close to you. You can travel the world, visit a zoo, take a walk, go dancing. You are free to be yourself and care for your baby at the same time. It's an amazing feeling.
  2. Security – for your baby, being close to you is the safest thing possible. Your smell, your temperature and your heartbeat. This secure feeling is good for them and it's good for you too. Keeping your baby close is helping bring up a confident, happy child and that makes the whole family happy and gives them greater health and mental stability for the future.
  3. Style – this isn't a reason for everyone but for me, wearing something beautiful felt great and I was often stopped in the street and asked where I had bought my baby carrier from. I liked that I looked confident and happy and that my daughter did too. One day I went shopping on the Kings Road in London (it's where I got married) and was spoken to by so many people who wanted to comment how peaceful my baby looked or what a stylish way to transport a baby around.
  4. Sleep – some babies do but mine never did, not unless they were snugly in the sling snoozing on my chest. It's the way I rocked both my daughters to sleep every night and how I could be sure that in a strange place they would still eventually nod off.
  5. Conversation – my final reason to carry your baby is all about talking. My girls never stop and although sometimes it drives me mad, it's wonderful how they have so much to say. It all started up there in the sling, I would talk about everything I could see and then point it out as they were at the right height. I loved taking them to the zoo because they weren't in a buggy, low down but could see into the enclosures or up over garden walls with me at all the flowers. When they were older they had an amazing viewpoint on my back and we would discuss everything and tell stories and sing. I truly believe their curiosity and incredible creativity began in the sling whilst we walked and talked.

5 reasons to carry your baby

My babies are bigger girls now and my slinging days are behind me but as the owner of SleepyNico I want to encourage parents everywhere to try out a sling, the benefits are amazing. We all have different needs but carrying your child is something that we have to do so why not find a way to do it that is comfortable and beneficial. We offer carriers in two sizes for babies and toddlers and they are all made here in East Anglia. SleepyNico also offer a custom made service so that you can create something special or unique, continuing the amazing head turning experience I had all those years ago on the Kings Road.

Enjoy your parenting journey.

Angeline at Sleepynico

x


Pregnancy video blog

Honestly Pregnancy Video Blog by Kathryn Stimpson

Kathryn and I have been chatting about the woes, hurdles and emotions of expecting baby no.2 for many months now (we are due within a month of each other). So I was really pleased when she agreed to allow The Parent and Baby Show to feature her pregnancy video blog episodes highlighting the ups and downs of pregnancy with a toddler!

Over to you Kathryn...

One of the biggest lessons I have experienced since becoming a mother is that most mums are either really hard on themselves, or feel like they have to be super mum, when in fact a lot of the time they feel totally the opposite.Pregnancy video blog

I can definitely vouch for this. After our first son Oliver was born, I felt the need to pretend I was “fine” because if I didn’t others would see I wasn’t fit to be a mother and I would also be the abnormal one who was not coping.

The further I got into my motherhood journey, I realised that so many other mums were doing the same. The trouble with this is most mums are pretending they are okay when they are not (like I did) which means the struggles of motherhood become a taboo subject which can make you feel isolated and alienated. From this point onwards, I promised myself I would be honest about how I was feeling not just for me but to also inspire other mums to know it’s okay not to always be okay.

As soon as we found out we were pregnant with baby No 2, I decided to record a honest video diary of motherhood and pregnancy called “Honestly Pregnancy” with the aim of reaching out to other mums who have days which feel impossible and overwhelming.

Here is Episode 1 of 'Honestly Parenting' Pregnancy Video Blog: How to cope with morning sickness and a toddler. Dealing with morning sickness with your first pregnancy is hard enough, facing it with an energetic toddler reaches a whole new level of struggle.

If this episode resonates with you, I would love for you to post your comments under this blog, or feel free to share it with a loved one who is going through the same.

Keep Smiling

Kathryn

About the author: Kathryn Stimpson lives in Norfolk, East Anglia with her husband Jonno and son Oliver. She is The Mumpreneurs Sleep Consultant, helping mums in business (and their children) to sleep through the night so they can be happier and healthier. To find out more about Kathryn, take a look at her website or reach out on Facebook!


Vicki Cockerill freelance blogger

Top Tips on looking after yourself when your child is ill by Vicki Cockerill

Having an ill child really does take it toll, the sleep deprivation hits, you lose the use of your arms for days at a time and you know the C Beebies songs of by heart. This blog focuses on top tips for looking after yourself when your little one is poorly.Vicki Cockerill freelance blogger

It is easy to forget to take care of yourself when your child is ill. You are so focused on your child and getting them better. It can be a draining and isolating time to be stuck at home while your child is poorly.

But, if you're running on no sleep, and you find yourself not eating or drinking properly you will also begin to feel the physical effects.

This is something I know all too well, with one child having a heart condition we have had our fair share of illness and recently… a chicken pox outbreak (!)

I have two children under the age of 4 and work from home as a freelance blogger, and things certainly got a lot trickier when both boys were very ill with chicken pox.

Here are my top tips on looking after yourself (and surviving!) while your child is ill.

  • Make it easy on yourself, cut back on household chores, forget the washing, order the shopping online, nap when they do and just focus on getting through the day with as less stress as you can!
  • Accept help, there is no shame in asking a friend to take a sibling out, dropping off a meal or some shopping. We feel we cannot accept offers of help as it is a sign of failure, but actually accepting help is what you need right now!
  • Make sure you take some time out for yourself, being cooped up watching Ben and Ryan rap badly all day will drive you slowly crazy so make sure if you go for a bath when your partner gets home or ask a family member to come and sit with the little ones so you can grab a nap or shower.
  • Forget the bad parent guilt of other siblings watching too much Netflix or eating fish fingers for a few days. It really doesn’t matter in the long run!
  • Try and eat frequently and stay hydrated it can be hard when your child is stuck to you and cries as soon as you put them down but you really do need to keep your energy up especially if you have been up all through the night too. Biscuits and cold coffee unfortunately do not make for a nutritional meal.
  • Sack off the work guilt, last week I worked one day and despite knowing I had a to do list bigger than my Calpol syringe collection it just isn’t worth worrying about. It will still be there. I tried to keep my client’s updated and many were very understanding of the fact I had my hands full. It took me a few days to realise it is just not worth worrying about (easier said than done I know).
  • Reach out on social media if you’re feeling stuck or lonely. I was feeling very low after 10 days of illness and by posting online (as we couldn’t go out) suddenly put me in contact with a whole virtual support network. Well wishes, offers of food drops from those local to me and tips for chicken pox really did lift my spirits along with the friends who checked in on us regularly.
  • Only you know your child, trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right seek medical advice.

You can fade into the background and take on so much when your child is ill, you can easily make yourself ill. But, keep it simple, be kind to yourself, make it easy and focus on survival!

Oh and gin helps.

Lots and lots of gin!

Vicki Cockerill is a NICU/ CHD Mum of two boys, a freelance blogger, Co-Founder of @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and mental health and NICU advocate.

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Fourth Trimester

Newborn security by Roma at Calmfamily West Norfolk

Imagine this, you are warm, suspended weightlessly, surrounded by fluid; there is a constant, relaxing, whooshing sound in your ears and a calming steady beat vibrating through your body. The light is a soothing red glow. You can hear familiar mumbled voices and one in particular rumbles through you often and sings and talks lovingly to you. You are never hungry, thirsty or feel any needs at all. This is all you've ever known and it is your life.

Then one day you are squeezed and squeezed by muscles and the fluid drains away and after a very squishy journey through a small tunnel you are thrown out into the world!!

This is the beginning of a newborn's life and the reality of their habitat in the womb and how it might feel when they are born. Quite a lovely sounding place in a womb isn't it?
Now let's think for a moment about how it compares to the world.

The world can be cold or hot, it can be very loud or deadly silent, it can be incredibly bright or pitch black, gravity pushes us onto the earth and we aren't able to float around weightlessly, there are smells and new tastes, there are so many things to see, faces and voices and noises. And we feel hungry and thirsty and have to expel our own waste; we have no umbilical cord to deliver us nutrients and remove waste. The world is a big, scary place sometimes and as grown adults we can often find it overwhelming. If we imagine how this stark contrast feels for a newborn and empathise with them we can begin to understand why they cry so much and need us to comfort them constantly in the beginning of their life.

Fourth Trimester

Newborn babies have it pretty tough when they are born. Birth can be quite uncomfortable and stressful for them and then they have to deal with all these new feelings they've never felt before. Their senses are bombarded with new things and they are so small and helpless! Even their own crying is startling for them as they've never had to use their voice before so they use it a lot to try and communicate with us as it's the one thing they have!!

Wow! Just reading that makes me feel a bit overwhelmed, so it's easy to see how crazy it must feel for a newborn. A newborn baby hasa few things they know and are familiar with though. They have mummy’s voice, mummy’s heartbeat and her warmth and even her smell. Baby will instantly feel safer and calmer on mum's chest and you will often notice this a favourite place for newborns, either on mum's breast, if she's breastfeeding, or lying constantly on her chest listening to that familiar heartbeat and soothing voice.

 

We often forget to empathise with newborns and forget that not only were all their new needs met inside the womb, they actually didn’t have any needs at all. When they are born, not only do they experience the discomfort of both physical and emotional needs such as hunger or loneliness, but they are also experiencing these needs for the very first time as well! And I’m sure you can imagine the feeling of needing a poo, and actually having a poo, must be a pretty disconcerting if you’ve never experienced it before!

So, taking all this into account, we can see how important it is to let babies be close to us and let them slowly and gently take in the world, bit by bit from the safety and comfort of our arms. The first 3 months of a babies life is often referred to as the fourth trimester as we are born so helpless compared to other mammals and almostseem like we aren’t ready for the world at birth. There are various theories which aim to explain the reason babies are born earlier. Some say it is due to the head size in comparison to our pelvis size and if they stayed in utero longer they wouldn't be able to come out, or that the female human metabolism purely cannot cope with being pregnant longer than 9 months; but we don't really know why, we just know that this is the reality of a human newborn and it’s hard for babies, and their parents in fact, to adjust. But there are ways we can help support our babies transition from womb to world.

Baby wearingFirst and foremost holding our babies and keeping them close as much as possible is one of the most comforting things we can do for them. Holding a baby all the time and cuddling them on our chests, although lovely, isn't always practical to do for 3 months straight, so one tool that can be incredibly helpful is using slings and carriers. Slings enable us to keep our babies in that important place on our chests, but free up our arms and hands so we can still have a little bit of freedom to do stuff for ourselves, even if it's just make a cup of tea and open the biscuits! Babywearing has so many proven benefits for baby and mum. Baby may cry less, sleep better, and often for longer, in the sling compared to trying to put baby down in a crib or other sleep surface. The close contact also helps to establish breastfeeding, aids bonding and it produces lovely calming hormones for baby and mum including oxytocin “the love hormone”, which has been linked to helping reduce the chances or effects of postnatal depression. You can learn more about the benefits of babywearing here and the various studies into it.

Wearing your newborn baby means you can usually carry on with your day, mostly as usual, and talk at normal volume, do the housework (if you really want to), go shopping or go for a walk. Babies in a sling usually sleep through all this commotion as it's much like being back in the womb, especially when we combine it with movement. And what's even better is that Dad or partner, or another relative or trusted friend can even put baby in the sling and take them for a walk and as long as they are fed and changed beforehand they will often happily drift off to sleep, so mum can have some much needed time to herself. Slings are such a great tool and stretchy wraps are especially good for newborns as the recreate the soft, flexible support of the womb and are extra comfy for the wearer if mum is feeling a bit tender. Babycalm workshops and courses cover the use of using slings and the different types in more detail. You can also visit a local sling library to try before you buy and get all sorts of help and advice.

Slings aren't the only option though, there are many other things you can do to make the fourth trimester easier for you and your baby. These can include, but aren't limited to, baby massage, breastfeeding, different sleeping arrangements, skin to skin, different ways to hold baby and many other forms of containment and connection which can help baby feel calm, safe and secure. Babycalm classes talk more about these things too; we separate fact from fiction, talk about what is biologically and psychologically normal for babies and we discuss the pros and cons of different popular options, always using current research to help parents make informed choices on what will work for their baby and their family! So please do check us out if you want to know more.

Most importantly though, the easiest thing that we can do to help our babies is simply just cuddles, cuddles and more cuddles. You can't cuddle your baby too much and it's impossible to spoil a baby with love. They need it and they thrive on it. Simple cuddles, close contact and loving touch from their parents makes that scary, overwhelming, confusing, multi-sensory explosion in to our crazy world just that little bit easier; and a calmer, happier baby, usually means a calmer, happier parent!!

Written by
Roma Malone fromCalmfamily West Norfolk

Calmfamily.org/roma-malone

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If you have a new baby and want to know more about the fourth trimester and learn about using slings and other tools to calm baby as well as do some baby massage and meet other new mums then please book onto our next Nurturing Baby 6 week course starting on the 1st of September in Kings Lynn. More information about it can be found here.


The PABS Almighty Norfolk Day Competition

Whey hey ... I competition I hear you say!

This competition makes me just SO INCREDIBLY excited! Not only because WE ACTUALLY HAVE A NORFOLK DAY ... but because one VERY lucky winner will gobble up OVER £650 worth of prizes from 19 really lovely, LOCAL, small businesses! WOAH - I KNOW! If only I could enter my own competition!

I'll get straight to the point ... our prizes are:

  1. 2 tickets to The Parent and Baby Show on Sunday 16th September, along with tea and cake for 2. RRP £25.00.
  2. “Just another manic mumday” canvas accessory bag – a collaboration between the night feed. And The Parent and Baby Show. RRP £10.00.
  3. A cloud wall sticker from the night feed. Great for the nursery! RRP 12.00.
  4. Little Green Radicals gold bubble dress from Rhubarb and The Bird. RRP £29.
  5. A superhero stash bag and an A4 print from Hello Henry. RRP £20.50.
  6. A £40 Nurturing Womb voucher.
  7. A £75 voucher towards a sitting session with Shellie Wall Photography.
  8. A £30 Ele and Me voucher.
  9. A space for 2 parents/carers on any Babycalm workshop ran by Calmfamily West Norfolk. Worth up to £45.
  10. 1 T-Shirt and 1 muslin cloth from Estrellita and Co. RRP £31.00.
  11. A £40 voucher for Little Owls Creations.
  12. A £40 voucher to spend on any events with We Got This – Sometimes.
  13. 1 year subscription to HER Revolution. RRP £60.
  14. A Beepops half of term class plus t-shirt. RRP around £30.
  15. A Mum2Mum Market stall and rail at any Norwich event. RRP £23.
  16. A Giggling Gnome teething gift box. RRP £40.00.
  17. A “Mini Cookies” term of classes with Cookies Kitchen for ages 2-4years old, starting in September. RRP £40.00.
  18. A Harry & Rose nappy spray. RRP £5.50.
  19. A baby swimming essentials bundle – nappy, wetsuit and Bubba bath toy from Water Babies Norfolk. RRP £43.00.

Can't believe your eyes? IT'S TRUE ... I'm not joking!

A little about each business who has joined this fabulous competition...

  1. The Parent and Baby Show ... well, that's US!
  2. the night feed. ... Sophie makes personalised mother and baby merchandise ... and it's totally awesome! She's based in Norwich and she also does teething necklaces and much more!
  3. Rhubarb and The Bird ... Elisha provides beautiful, organic and unique clothing for children up to the age of 4 years. This is a family run business created in early 2018 and based in Norfolk!
  4. Hello Henry ... Sara is Norfolk based and creates amazing, hand painted, stylish storage and prints!
  5. The Nurturing Womb ... Lynda offers amazing massages, reflexology and complementary therapies. Based in Drayton, Norwich.
  6. Shellie Wall Photography ... Based in Dereham, Norfolk, Shellie is a very well know newborn photographer who's brilliant at what she does!
  7. Ele and Me ... The most gorgeous children's shop in Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk! Offering traditional wooden toys, open ended, sensory & educational toys, organic children's clothing & natural products.
  8. Calmfamily West Norfolk ... Roma aims to empower parents with great classes geared around settling your newborn/baby. She has a wide range of classes, from pregnancy up until your baby is one year of age and is based in West Norfolk.
  9. Estrellita and Co. ... A gorgeous baby and children's boutique offering fashionable children's clothing, based in Norfolk!
  10. Little Owls Creations ... Sarah runs a  mobile 3d hand and foot casting service in Norfolk. Brilliant for capturing those perfectly formed, squidgy little hands and feet!
  11. We Got This – Sometimes ... Emma provided parent's of Norfolk laid back, honest and fun events in and around Norwich.
  12. For HER Revolution ... An online community group run by Serena from HER Business Brew. It is an extension of the For HER Women's Business, Body & Life Online Chat Show which gives you more in-depth education, knowledge and support related to the topics discussed on the bi-weekly show. Serena is Norfolk born and bred, what she doesn't know about Norfolk, no-one does!
  13. Beepops ... Beckie runs fun sensory, music and dance classes for babies, toddlers, pre-school and reception class children, with classes all around Norfolk!
  14. Mum2Mum Market ... Run by sisters Katie and Claire, these awesome nearly new markets are a great way to stock up on much needed baby/child wears. Or, on the flip side, a great way to de-clutter and sell out-grown clothing and toys!
  15. Giggling Gnome ... Unique baby & toddler gift boxes which can be lovingly tailored by you for the little gnomes in your life. A lovely Norfolk based business!
  16. Cookies Kitchen ... Carol's recently moved back to Norfolk and is kick starting her toddler and children's cookery classes this summer! Follow her and keep your eyes peeled for more details!
  17. Harry & Rose ... Our only non-Norfolk brand joining the competition. These guys offer luxury skin care products for babies and children.
  18. Water Babies Norfolk ... If you havn't heard of these guys then you must have been living under a rock! They offer award winning baby and toddler swimming classes across Norfolk and beyond!

-------------------------------------

So to be in with a chance of winning ALL OF THESE PRIZES all you have to do is:

  1. Make sure you like our Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/theparentandbabyshow/
  2. Follow us on Instagram. Our handle is: theparentandbabyshow
  3. Email competitions@theparentandbabyshow.co.uk with: Your name, email address, how many children you have and their ages, the nearest town you live to and whether you would like to be added to our database to find out about more competitions and events!
  4. ENTRIES CLOSE AT 6PM ON THURS 26TH JULY. No entries after this point will be valid. The winner will be chosen at random.

The winner will be announced on the evening of Norfolk Day!

GOOD LUCK and GET ENTERING!

Love Alex

x


Essential Oils in Pregnancy by Sophie at Healing Wisdom

There is a lot of talk about essential, oils and what you can and can't use while pregnant...the thing is, essential oils have been used during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond for centuries! So they must be safe, right?

Yes ... and no ...

The main issue, really, is the quality of the essential oil you use! If you only use a Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oil, you can be confident that they are the purest and most tested so will not contain anything unnatural which could be harmful to you or your baby ... and with the appropriate dilution (because your skin is more sensitive), respect and use of their potent properties, they can be an essential addition in supporting you through the stages of pregnancy and childbirth, both physically and emotionally. Especially since side effects from medication can be so detrimental!

Bear in mind that, if you use a cheaper version, you will not have the guaranteed purity so can't be sure what filler, additives or synthetic ingredients you could be using... So just make sure that your oil's supplier testing standard are thorough (and ideally done by a third party company!)

A few essential oils which are not recommended (even the purest ones)...

Peppermint can reduce your milk supply so should be avoided in the later stage of pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Clary Sage can increase contractions!!! Great for when you're ready to give birth, but why would you want to amplify any Braxton Hicks if you don't have to! (eeek!)

A few other single oils, which we are often told to avoid during pregnancy are:

Cinnamon,

Rosemary,

Oregano,

Thyme,

Myrrh,

Jasmine,

Basil,

Clove

Suggested uses and applications:

So now we've covered oils which should be avoided during pregnancy, let's focus on those which can!

I have listed below a few examples of suggested uses and applications, but please bear in mind that everyone is different and some trial and error is often necessary to find the right fit:

  • For allergy support, take 2 drops each of peppermint and lemon in a capsule or in water (adding 2 drops of lavender can also be useful).
  • For anxiety, use Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver, Frankincense or the Grounding Blend. Apply 1-2 drops under your feet, back of neck and temples.
  • For headache relief, apply the Tension blend or peppermint topically on your forehead, temples, back of neck and under nose.
  • For relaxation and deep sleep, try to rub some Lavender or the Restful Blend under your nose, and on your forehead, heart and/or feet.
  • For fatigue, add 2-3 drops of Lemon, Grapefruit or Wild Orange in water, 2-3 times a day.
  • For calming emotional support, apply the Grounding blend or Frankincense to the bottoms of your feet.
  • For heartburn, apply the Digestive blend, peppermint or ginger directly on breastbone.
  • For morning sickness, apply one of them behind ears, along jawline and on reflex points on feet, put in an empty capsule and swallow or diffuse into the air!

Dilution is also key with essential oil! The recommended dilution during pregnancy is 1%, which means 1 - 2 drops of essential oils per 10ml of carrier oil (such as fractionated coconut oil). Just buy some empty 5 or 10ml bottles, a carrier oil and then dispense into the bottles et voila - not only are you making your essential oils go much, much further - you're creating your own blends which work for you! For babies under 12 months a dilution of 0.5% is recommended - which equates to 1 drop in a 10ml bottle (mixed with carrier oil). These are fab for babies (and reducing your need for medicines such as Calpol) - peppermint oil on their feet and spine is great in reducing high temperatures (diluted of course).

A "Touch" version is also available for some of the oils, which are already pre-diluted and safe for babies and sensitive skin. Ideal if you can't really be bothered with the above!

Please contact me for more details if you're interested.

To me, these oils are truly amazing and I have seen the most incredible results! However, even if you use essential oils regularly, your body still needs to be fully stocked on nutrient! For this, I would recommend you add The Food Nutrient Complex to your wellness lifestyle. It is a whole food supplement, which assimilates in our bodies better than synthetic vitamins. These supplements can help fill the nutritional gaps and also provide important brain development nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids!

The ones I use and recommend have been demonstrated to increase energy and stamina, reduce mood swings, increase focus and reduce anxiety, on top of providing what your body needs! They are full of essential oils and other goodness, they are safe to use for any adults and beneficial for all stages of life!

Thank you for reading it to the end! I hope you have found this information useful, please get in touch if you would like to know more or to arrange a free wellness consult to find the best essential oils for you, tailored to your and your family's needs, and for the best possible price!

If you would like to know more about essential oils and their benefits, please join my Facebook group!

And/or like my Facebook page

Sophie

Healing Wisdom

oils@healing-wisdom.com

For legal reasons, I would like to add that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or replace treatment for conditions, nor substitute professional care from a doctor.

I am neither a doctor nor a midwife, but I have taken the information from doctors and midwife who use these essential oils on a daily basis and are far more knowledgeable than me in that field!

If you have any doubts, you should trust your intuition and consult your own doctor before implementing essential oils in your daily routine.


Help! My Toddler Is So Fussy! By Jo at Baby Led Kitchen

This is one of the most common cries for help I hear from parents. ‘The baby is fine but the toddler won’t eat!”. In this guest blog post, I’m going to identify some of the causes of ‘fussy eating’ in little ones and give a couple of tips of how you can manage it. Hope it helps!

“Baby Led Weaning will stop you getting a fussy eater” … is not something you will ever hear me say.

Why not?

Because I have my very own home-grown toddler who was given ‘real’ food from six months and who still has days where all she wants is cheese or, seemingly, air. I was exhibiting at PABS recently when I received a message from my partner that read “she won’t eat. So far she has had three raisins, some milk and she licked the jam off her toast”. And there I was promoting how we should offer babies a rainbow of colourful and delicious food!

Baby Led Weaning allows children to grow their sense of autonomy as they are in charge of how much they eat and what they eat (from the selection provided of course). It is hugely beneficial in helping children to know when they are full and helping them to develop likes and dislikes. In a way, it is a good thing to be a little bit fussy. We don’t all like the same foods as adults after all.

I do believe that introducing your baby to lots of different flavours can help them to be more receptive to new flavours in general, however for most toddlers being cautious and picky with food usually comes with the territory. This is really common and very normal, though certainly isn’t an argument for NOT giving them wide exposure to different foods from the beginning. You may find that your baby who would once eat anything still becomes fussy from time to time, but may have more quirky ‘safe’ foods (we once experienced a fortnight where my daughter only ate mushrooms, olives and prawns – go figure).

Whilst I specialise in Baby Led Weaning, I am frequently asked for help with feeding older siblings too, so I’m going to share some tips that I have picked up as someone who has worked with many young children and also as a mum of a very strong-willed two year old!

Why won’t she just eat her ******* peas?!

Firstly, parenting writer Sarah Ockwell Smith talks about toddlers being ‘Neophobic’ (afraid of trying new things) in her book ‘Gentle Eating’. She believes that we have actually evolved to be this way, in order to protect ourselves from potentially poisonous foods (smart!). In the case of the child who suddenly won’t eat something they ate as a baby, she suggests that maybe they just can’t remember having ever eaten it. I know that my daughter is certainly more suspicious of new foods than she used to be, though I do think that offering her a vast range of flavours regularly since six months means that she is usually accepting of most foods.

Secondly, The toddler stage can be overwhelming. Children have this new sense of autonomy (“do it ‘self!” “All by my own!”) and yet don’t always have the freedom or control that they wish for. Equally, they still need so much comfort and support to help them with the many new emotions they can now experience. It’s tough being a toddler! Mealtimes can easily become a bit of a power struggle, and this can be due to a child seeking a little more control in their life.

Be cool as a(n uneaten) cucumber

It can be painful to lovingly cook a meal for your child for them to push it away, throw it at the wall or say “not like it mummy”. But don’t show your pain! Remember that your toddler is not capable of cooking and has no choice to get up and make a sandwich later on if they get peckish. Keep mealtimes neutral and no-fuss, or risk causing angst around food that could pose much bigger problems later on. If your little one doesn’t want their meal (because it’s a new food, because the broccoli is touching the sauce or just because it’s Tuesday) just calmly move it to one side and offer something plain, like toast. Don’t make food into a ‘thing’. To save your sanity and ingredients, offer smaller portions that won’t overwhelm them. Always offer dessert if you are serving it. To say “you can only have a yoghurt if you eat all your dinner” just encourages over eating.

Offer Choice

What I love about Baby Led Weaning is that it gives babies the message that they can choose to do things or not do things. They choose which bits of a meal to eat and how much they eat. It’s important to extend this into toddlerhood by offering as many choices as you can. Blue cup or green? Scrambled egg for lunch or a sandwich? Courgette or spinach in the pasta? By doing this you are fulfilling that need for control before they seek it through being fussy at meal times.

Put them to work

Get your children helping with the shopping and cooking as early as you can. Get them to look for different items in the supermarket by pretending you can’t see them for yourself. Standing directly in front of the bananas and saying “oh I just can’t see the bananas ANYWHERE, where could they BE?” will generally suffice if your toddler is as rubbish at looking for things as mine is. Let them handle fresh fruit and veg by getting them to help put them away once you are home. In terms of cooking, I have lots of simple recipes that children can help with on my website, babyledkitchen.co.uk, and in ‘The Little CookBook’. Small hands are perfect for mashing, stirring and putting cupcake cases into tins and prepping their own food can help to minimize anxiety and suspicion around food.

Be Creative

Think about how, where and when you serve meals. Some children respond really well to serving themselves from food laid out on the table, or pointing to the food they would like from a buffet style selection. Some children eat better from a ‘grazing tray’ of snacks available to them as they play during the afternoon rather than set lunch and dinner times. You could include things like fruit and veg, savoury muffins, energy balls, homemade snack bars, crackers, cubes of cheese, boiled egg, cold meat and mini quiches. Just keep an eye on sugar and salt levels and make sure foods that need to be kept in the fridge aren’t out too long. Picnics are another idea. Invite your child’s favourite toys too and head outside with a blanket if its sunny, or have your own indoor picnic to pass time on a rainy day.

Stick with the familiar but offer something new

If your child only eats fish fingers for dinner, give them fish fingers. Every day if need be. But do serve a little of something else alongside. If it isn’t eaten, never mind, but there’s no harm in offering. If your child gets anxious about new foods, just offer one new thing at a time. Don’t make a fuss if the food is eaten or not eaten. The key is keeping food a non-issue. Remember that food is food and that putting food on a pedestal can be asking for trouble. Insisting that a child eats their green veg when you know they don’t like it is calling for battle! Your toddler is developing a sense of what they do and don’t like to eat, which is a good thing. One thing you can do is to work with their likes and dislikes when offering new foods. For example, if your little one loves chocolate, look into some healthier chocolatey recipes that are refined sugar free and contain nutritious ingredients such as fruit and nuts. I have a few recipes like this on my website. If they prefer creamier tastes, try adding a spoonful of crème fraiche, cream or yoghurt to stews/casseroles/curries for example. Some children like to be able to see their food clearly so that they can choose what they want to eat more easily, so you might find our divided suction plates useful for separating foods out (plug alert: these are available on our online shop on the BLK website or on Amazon).

It’s all normal, it’s all a phase, it’s all normal, it’s all a phase….

… and unless your child’s health is suffering, the best thing you can do is take it in your stride and let your child eat what they feel safe to eat. They will almost always branch out in their own time. It’s not worth risking their relationship with food in the long run. Of course, if you ARE concerned that your child’s health may be suffering because they aren’t eating well enough, of course speak to your doctor or Health Visitor. I hope my suggestions here are helpful. Check out my website and/or book for whole-family recipes that are quick and cheap to make. I can’t promise your child will eat any of them but YOU are less likely to cry if it gets rejected if you haven’t slaved over a hot oven or spent megabucks to make the food! Please feel free to contact me for any particular recipe ideas or general advice about baby or toddler food.

Wishing you many peaceful and tasty meal times!

Jo, Baby Led Kitchen

Email: jo@babyledkitchen.co.uk

Website

Instagram: @babyledkitchen

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What is Placenta Encapsulation by Nikki at Cherished Placentas Ltd

What is Placenta Encapsulation? It's basically a modern and unique way of having your placenta made into capsules! Most people are a little bit squeamish when they hear the word placenta, usually from hearing about placentas being fried and eaten. Although this is common practise in some cultures.

Historically up until the 19th century, we used to consume the placenta as a natural part of our pregnancies, but unfortunately, a lot of wonderful natural remedies get lost in the modern world! This is why I just love my job as I can offer this service in a modern way that people can relate too!

I had my placenta encapsulated with my 2nd son, 3 years ago & due to be benefits, my passion for placenta encapsulation grew so much that i set up my company Cherished Placentas Ltd, to be able to educated people all about the amazing benefits of the placenta!

Having your placenta made into capsules is basically like taking a supplement on a daily basis throughout your post-natal recovery, it's actually a very natural way of re-introducing all of those important stem cells, hormones, vitamins & proteins back into mummy after the delivery of her baby!

What some people do not realise is after birth their hormones & iron levels are very diminished as everything is given to the baby and poor mum is left with not much. Mummies have quoted that 'It feels like the life has been sucked out of me' Any women who has given birth knows that felling immediately after birth and also post birth.

The amazing benefits reported by other mummies is just outstanding. Once someone has had their placenta encapsulated, you will know as they are over moon with the results themselves. Women have reported;

  • reduce post­-birth bleeding quickly
  • encourage a quick and healthy milk supply
  • balance hormonal peaks and drops
  • reduce stress levels
  • prevent the baby blues and postnatal depression
  • boost energy to cope with a busy day after little sleep
  • improve the appearance of skin/hair/nails

All of these benefits are exactly what a mum needs to just function properly after birth and caring for a newborn!

The most important nutrients found in rich supply in the placenta include:

  • Stem Cells and Growth Factors.
  • Iron – essential for oxygen absorption in the cells.
  • Vitamins B6 – aids in the making of antibodies.
  • Vitamin E – for healing damaged skin cells.
  • Oxytocin hormone – essential for facilitating birth and breastfeeding.
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) – responsible for reducing stress levels.
  • Cytokines – Fibroblasts that trigger cell metabolism healing and replacing damaged cells and tissue.

Our hormones are powerful and need to be re-introduced as quickly as possible after birth. And what a better way to do this than by capsules!

Not only can your placenta be encapsulated and taken as a supplement, we also offer lots of wonderful remedies and beauty products. Our best sellers are without a doubt is The Placenta Tincture & our Mother & Baby Balm.

Placenta Tincture is made from a piece of the mother’s own raw or dried placenta after birth and is useful for all sorts of hormonal balancing from PMS to menopause. I basically call it our 'liquid gold' remedy.

Our balm is a lovely product that can be used on sore cracked nipples when trying to breastfeed. It can also be used effectively to reduce the signs of scar tissue and burns, nappy rash, cradle cap and irritated skin conditions.

Both mum and baby can benefit from this wonderfully soothing, multi-purpose balm. It can effectively be used by new mothers to assistant in healing wounds including c-section scars & perineal tears, what a magic balm!

All of our creams and balms are natural, organic & homemade skincare products, which involves infusing the placenta with natural oils and waxes.

There are lots and lots of wonderful products and remedies that you can choose from including bespoke packages which are designed for you and your baby.

Cherished Placentas Ltd is based in Norfolk but we cover the whole of East Anglia, allowing us to offer this wonderful service to as many mummies to be.

If you would like to find out more, please visit www.cherishedplacentas.co.uk or email info@cherishedplacentas.co.uk

We aim to offer our services regardless of your birth plan.

I hope you enjoyed my blog and feel the love for placentas!

Love Nikki x


Taking it all the way - a NICU Mum’s fight by Vicki at The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum blog

I am a NICU Mum, a title I never asked for but one I was bestowed nevertheless.

When I gave birth to my eldest son in 2014, I never thought 12 hours later I would be watching his fight for his life at the side of his incubator.

Elijah very quickly after birth began to have dusky episodes which saw him admitted to the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit at the NNUH.

I went from having cosy first cuddles in bed to not being able to hold or feed my child for four days.

I could only touch him via the small hole in the incubator, whilst he was hooked up to multiple machines and wires.

Elijah was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, he would need surgery to save him life before his first birthday.On day 3 we suffered another blow when Elijah began to have seizures and was later discovered to have suffered a neo natal stroke due to a bleed on the brain. We were told that Doctors wouldn’t be able to determine the extent of the damage and Elijah may be disabled. He may not reach the milestones of walking and talking, only time would tell.

On day 9 we got the news we had been wanting to hear for so long, he was coming home.

I could still smell the ‘hospital smell’, I dreamt about those double doors and heard the machine alarms in my sleep.

Elijah had a successful heart surgery down at Great Ormond Street when he was 6 months old.

When he was 12 months old, I still heard the machines, dreamt about the blue and green bars of the hospital cots.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when he was 18 months old.

During my time in NICU, I never had anyone offer any support to me other than a few leaflets shoved into my hands.

I was not assessed by a mental health professional once during my time in hospital.

If they did, I am 90% sure I would have been diagnosed

I wasn’t eating and abusing pills during and after our time in NICU as a way of coping.

Despite the number of medical professionals, we had in and out of our house caring for Elijah, I never received one single follow up, one phone call to see how I was doing.

I had suffered one of the most traumatic times of my life as I was left to get over it single handily, alone.

Fast forward three years and I am now in therapy to try and come to terms with the impact our NICU experience truly had on me.

How it affected my first years with Elijah, my subsequent pregnancy and birth.

I can never fault the staff who cared for my son, they were marvels and the staff do an amazing job.

But where is the support for NICU parents?

It is recommended that you are assessed by a mental health professional within your first three days of being in NICU, and have subsequent follow ups during, and after discharge.

When I was in the grips of PTSD, there is no surprise I didn’t want to travel to a support group far away with strangers.

An online group wasn’t enough, I needed to have actual help from a professional.

There have been campaigns like this before, some I have supported, and it pains me to see that this is still a problem.

I recently posted on social media about how NICU still affects me and was blown away by the number of comments from parents who agreed.

There was one theme, no one received any kind of mental health care during or after their NICU stay.

This prompted me to speak to some NHS professionals to try and learn if things have changed since 2014 and if a support system was in place for NICU parents during and after your stay.

So far, I have learnt there is no one dedicated process for NICU parent’s wellbeing.

With my brave army of NICU parents baring their stories and how NICU affected them and the lack of support they received I am demanding change, for a system to be implemented for NICU parents DURING and AFTER NICU. Over 70% of NICU parents will develop PTSD or PND because of their experience, imagine if we could put into place a dedicated support process to help decrease this percentage. To help vulnerable parents during one of the most traumatic times of their lives?

This Mama is taking it all the way. Watch out Parliament, we’re coming for you.

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We may not be a Royal, but we have our own little announcement!

Riding on the exciting news that our 5th in line to the thrown has been born (who else watched Kate come out looking incredible and felt so sorry that this is still required of her, and that the media can't just let her nurture and nurse her newborn), we thought it was about time we announced our own special news ... yes, we are expecting baby no.2, and we're SO happy!

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant and due on the 28th September. Now if you've been keeping up to date with the PABS news you'll realise this is only 12 days after our September show, am I mad, yes probably! BUT I will have the best team around me and for anyone who has organised anything you'll know that a lot of the work which goes into large events is done quite far in advance - so I'm confident it will all run nice and smoothly! Plus I like to keep busy and have a focus - something which I've been reminded about very recently as prior to our show the other week I had had minimal pregnancy symptoms UNTIL straight after the show when it feels like they've come in a huge wave and totally knocked me over! But so is life and it's all part and parcel of creating a little human! I will not complain (much!)

So I didn't want this blog to just be all about our wonderful announcement - I wanted to give you a bit more of an insight into our last 4 months (and I say 'our' as we've dealt with everything as a family, and it's important to acknowledge how difficult pregnancy can also be for our partners). Why am I sharing this (as it is quite a personal journey for myself and my husband, Tom), because life isn't easy and speaking about difficulties is great for healing and overcoming hard times (I've had a few teary moments whilst writing and reading this blog out).

The day before Elkie's 1st birthday (and her actually birthday) was one of the most difficult weekends I've been through - we had known for a week that we were expecting but I was then hit with a hot flush and weird sensation, I just knew something was going horribly wrong. I felt extremely anxious, fearful, worried of the unknown and as I was at an event promoting The Parent and Baby Show, I was totally embarrassed and unsure how to get through the situation I had suddenly found myself in without too much fuss. I needed my husband. I needed a hug. And I needed to hide away and pretend nothing was wrong. I had my daughter's 1st birthday party all planned and perfected the next day and nothing could go wrong. But it was, and from this moment on I became fully aware of the pain, anxiety and fear so many women face in pregnancy each day!

To cut a long 6 weeks short, our baby turned out to be just fine, even though we were told to prepare for the worst. Which I had fully done, so much so that I pretty much just ignored pregnancy as I was certain it wasn't going to be viable at some point soon. I researched the hell out of what I was going to experience, the signs, the emotions and the support groups - and I was so relieved to find so many Norwich based groups out there I could turn to. But also so sad to see SO many women so heartbroken and empty. Since the scans revealed we were out of the woods I've been rattling my brains to how our September show can support women going through worse than what I did, I'm yet to come up with something I feel will work, but I will do!

Keeping all of this private and within a very small network of family and friends was really difficult. Sometimes I wanted to be swallowed up, not answer the phone or emails and take a few days out, but I didn't feel I could without making people aware that something was going on behind closed doors. I'm sure so many other families must struggle with this. You want to keep what's going on to yourself, yet sometimes you just need a little slack and understanding. It's an awful viscous circle of emotions and hormones!

So fast forward a few more weeks, I'm starting to show (but clever clothing just makes me look a little chubby rather than pregnant), the show comes and goes and we're in Norwich about to go to Window To The Womb for our gender scan on Weds 18th April. We are so excited! The nerves of the show have been replaced with excitement for whether it's a boy or a girl, and most importantly if all looks OK still!

We used Window To The Womb with Elkie, twice, and it was such a magical and enjoyable experience. Now don't get me wrong, the NHS are brilliant and I really value the support they offer pregnant ladies, the service they provide and the incredible midwives. But I hate hospitals as I am one of those unfortunate people who've spent a lot of time in them since I was a child! Window To The Womb is warm and friendly, calm and not crowded - you feel so special and looked after from the minute you walk in to the minute you walk out with your gift pack! Our scan was incredibly reassuring and we asked the ladies to put the gender inside an envelope so we could go to Rooftop Gardens and open it on our own with some yummy cocktails (mocktails) and food! This is the beauty of Window To The Womb ... a 5 min walk away and you're in one of Norwich's funkiest bars/restaurants ready to find out how our life was about to further unfold!

So in all - would I recommend WTTW - WITHOUT  a doubt! And apparently so would SO many other couples, all you have to do is read their reviews on social media and comments in their 'shop' on Timber Hill! And what's even more lovely is we now have lots of pictures of it's legs, hands and the all important side view which shows our baby developing as expected. We even got to hear the heartbeat! We felt so welcomed and nothing was rushed, we got to ask lots of questions (and I had lots) and we felt totally reassured and excited for our 28 weeks 4D scan!

Although we have been told that there is now nothing to worry about, there will always be part of me which will remain anxious throughout the rest of pregnancy. I know I won't be able to shake off this feeling, and from other mums I've spoken to this is natural. I'm not quite half way there yet and we still have a long way to go, but my body transformation is quickly taking place now and there's no hiding that I'm growing a little sibling for Elkie! We have everything crossed for a smooth pregnancy from here on out!

Thanks for reading ... I'm sure i'll keep you updated on how pregnancy progresses over on Instagram, I'd love to hear if anyone else is due in September so we can say 'Hi' in delivery!

Love, Alex xxx

Oh and by the way ... IT'S A BOY! Elkie will have a little brother and we're so happy!

 


Baby Massage & Baby Yoga – The Why, the What and the Which one by Rachel at Pregnancy and Parenthood

The Why: Why should I consider baby massage or baby yoga over other baby classes?

Babies are born communicating and with an emotional need for connection. Even moments after birth, babies pay attention to the rhythm, movement and facial expressions of the people caring for them, trying to read meaning from their actions. Our tiny humans look to their caregivers for information to learn about the world around them, for reassurance and comfort during stressful episodes. The feedback they receive and the response to their own communication attempts, shape their developing brain as they learn who is in tune with their needs and who they can relax around.

For healthy human relationships to develop we do not need to be connected all of the time. However, it is increasingly recognised, that in modern society babies are spending less and less time in a connected state with their primary caregiver. There are many reasons why this might be the case, (which goes beyond this blog) but providing parents with opportunities to connect with their babies and nurture their relationship is what baby massage and baby yoga can do so beautifully.

Modern science demonstrates how a baby’s brain lights up in response to the sound, sight and touch of its mother alone. Therefore in the early months of development, there is no better plaything than a mother’s affection. Never again will this be the case as our baby’s attention quickly turns to the outside world, toys and other beings. Therefore in these early weeks and months of life, babies do not need to be stimulated they need to be connected. Time at home “just being”, skin-to-skin contact, baby wearing and responsive cue based care are to name just a few things that can be done in the early few days and weeks to start these connections. However there is a time when getting out and about with a newborn is also an important part of building on the mother-baby relationship. Finding a comfortable setting, where you feel able to continue forming a loving and caring relationship with your baby within a group is important and taking those initial steps out in a new motherly role should not be underestimated.

The What: What do baby massage and baby yoga classes look like?

Baby massage and yoga are both activities you do with your baby; they involve proximity, communication, touch and trust and can help build parent-baby interactions and confidence. Under the right guidance and instruction baby massage and baby yoga should be graded to your baby’s state of arousal and their sensory threshold. By encouraging the reading of and responding to your baby’s attempts to communicate and by watching and waiting as new experiences are introduced the subtle signs of disengagement and over-stimulation should not be missed. Baby massage and yoga both work with a baby’s natural development to gently unravel a baby and gradually allow them to experience the world in new ways. They are also activities that can be repeated at home without equipment and adapted as infants grow and their needs change.

Yet despite their many similarities, a baby massage course would look very different to a baby yoga course. Baby massage involves undressing babies to maximise skin to skin contact and the release of the bonding and attachment hormone oxytocin.   In yoga, babies remain fully clothed. Baby massage uses physical strokes against the skin to provide stimulation, relief and relaxation, where yoga uses more postures and movement to gain the same benefits. In baby massage, the baby is certainly emotionally engaged and participating but physically more passive, whereas in yoga babies are more physically active and alert.

The Which one: I see you run baby massage and baby yoga classes, which one would be best for me and my baby?

At Pregnancy and Parenthood we often talk about baby massage and yoga as a natural continuum with each other and in week 5 of our baby massage programme we start introducing the gentle movements associated with baby yoga. We believe that if parents like the principles of one, they will more than likely enjoy the atmosphere and benefits of the other. Our suggestion is that baby massage can be introduced earlier when babies are more passive and are slowly accommodating to the world around them. Baby yoga can then build on these sensory experiences and offer more movement, proprioceptive and vestibular stimulation at a point appropriate to their behavioural and physical development. Baby massage can be started from birth; however we find most mothers are ready to start around 6-8 weeks of age. We suggest not looking to start baby yoga until babies have reached at least 10 weeks of age as this is when babies become more awake and alert and at Pregnancy and Parenthood we feel families will benefit most from the class. We never combine classes as each course has its own structure that builds on itself week on week to ensure babies are ready at each stage to progress and to prevent overstimulation.

So to summarise our baby classes provide parents with opportunities to connect with their babies whilst nurturing their emotional and physical development. Our courses are always small to allow the babies time and space and to promote a relaxing environment. Whilst baby massage and baby yoga have many of the same principles, classes look very different and will provide different experiences and skills. Which one parents choose to undertake is a personal choice but why not enjoy them both?

To find out more about baby massage and yoga the Pregnancy and Parenthood team are running a workshop at the spring 2018 Parent and Baby Show. This workshop will give you the opportunity to see for yourself the differences and similarities between the classes. We are also offering an exclusive PABS show discount when you book onto both courses at our hub and Baby Centre in Hethersett – valid for courses starting in May and June subject to availability.

Written by Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapist Rachel Pailes who has a specialist interest in newborn and infant development. Rachel is part of the Pregnancy and Parenthood team based from Rowan House Health and Wellbeing Centre in Hethersett, where she teaches Infant Massage and offers developmental assessments and treatment. To find out more about their team and their services follow them on Facebook @pregnancyandparenthoodnorwich or go to their website pregnancyandparenthood.co.uk

 


Our Induction Part 2 by Amy and Jamie at Live and Let Dye Clothing

....So, if you remember from our last blog we have just been told that the delivery suite has been shut down until further notice and I have been told that they can FINALLY break my waters, after days of trying!

Waking up on the Sunday morning we were all wondering when delivery suite would be opened up, and when we could go and have our babies. I had met some lovely girls on the ward and we ended up doing around 3.5km of walking to A: Get these babies moving for our default slot on delivery and B: to pass the time as there is quite literally NOTHING to do. After all this walking though, I lost my mucous plug, something I had no idea would happen! The midwives got quite excited and I just sat there quite disgusted at my own body, but also a little ashamed as I wasn't prepared!

Earlier in this piece I talked about having a baby by the Sunday. My ultimate Sunday would be tucked up in my own bed with my little girl in her Moses crib watching Call the Midwife, and being able to empathise with the characters on my all-time favourite program, but instead, I was tucked up in my hospital bed still with a big belly. GOOD NEWS, the night midwife drifts onto the ward announces that delivery is open and that bays 2 and 8 can go across! Bay 8... THAT’S ME!!!

So we waited until 14:30 and then off we went! I was going to have MY BABY! I was so nervous! Our midwife explained that I were going to have my waters broken, followed by a drip being inserted and contractions would then start. This is when I realised how important my birth plan was, as when things started to get more and more painful it was this document that my midwives followed, rather than Jamie's thoughts and voice.

It took me until 12hours into my contractions to scream blue murder for an epidural. I'd had paracetamol, I'd sucked on the gas and air until I puked and felt beyond drunk, I'd tried pethidine with absolutely no effect. I just needed something to give me a break.

"Amy, baby's heartrate is faltering" BANG that hit me like a tonne of bricks and all I remember was having that Twilight moment when Bella screams ... GET HIM OUT ... Both Jamie and I had discussed my birth plan as I wanted him to know exactly how I felt, and if needed he could be my voice - "Remember what we said" he said! This was that I wasn't going to have an epidural unless I absolutely needed it ... and this was then! I NEEDED IT! I was read a list of risks attached to having the epidural, but to be honest they could have told me my lets were going to fall off, It didn't matter, my baby was struggling and I needed something to calm me down. After many attempts to get the epidural in (sitting up, whilst your contractions were getting quicker and stronger was not easy!) I was finally a little more comfy! 

So after 5 days in hospital trying to deliver my baby, finally Evie Alexandra May made her appearance at 06:04 on Tuesday morning and I remember the sheer joy and absolute pure fright that filled me as I was a Mum, I cried down the phone to my own Mum at 06:20 exclaiming "I'M A MUM, MUM!" The following few hours were then a bit of a blur. I had torn and needed to be stitched, however because of the epidural I had to have doctors, consultants and midwives all check everything was all OK.

We were transferred onto the post-natal ward just before lunch where I finally put her down and fell into an exhausted sleep, only to be woken up less than hour later asking what I wanted to eat. Even though I'd been awake for going on 36hrs food was more important than sleep! Turkey sandwiches and plain crisps though didn't quite hit the spot, but it was enough that I stayed awake for the numerous checks on baby.

They suggested I stay a night so I could be regularly checked and generally looked after, Jamie went home to get a little sleep himself so he was fresh for our return home! Our latch was checked and we settled into our first night. I was waiting to be woken every hour but luckily, we woke at 3am and then magically it was morning. I looked into the crib and had the most gorgeous eyes staring back at me and it all came flooding back that this little thing, this little person was all mine (Or nearly all mine, I had to share with her Daddy). Home time came before lunchtime and the fresh air was amazing, but so was knowing we were on our way home. The midwife was due round the next day so I knew we would be just fine.

Speaking to Jamie in greater depth after we got home, I asked him how he felt . I had the unpleasant experience of having Gall Stones when we were very new as a couple so he compared the both and said:

"When you had a gall stone attack I knew exactly what to do, I'd go downstairs, get a hot water bottle, your painkillers and a drink. I'd make sure you had everything and I'd then be able to cuddle you to sleep. During labour, It was obviously A LOT more painful, but I was only allowed to stand there and hold your hand."

Due to infection control partners aren't allowed on hospital beds, they can hold your hand and mop your face, but that's about it. I wasn't prepared for this. Nappies, bathing and how much or how little cream and which cream, are all things you can learn on the job so to speak, but having to stand there and watch someone who means a great deal to you go through the same pain as breaking 20 bones simultaneously is almost as torturing for them too. I think we forget this sometimes as it's all about mum and baby!

Thanks for reading our birth story ... love Amy and Jamie x


Our Induction Part 1 by Amy and Jamie at Live and Let Dye Clothing

Through the blur of the gas and air I heard two things, "Amy, baby's heartrate is faltering" & "Remember what we said". One was from our midwife, the other from my Husband, Jamie.

I want to bring you a real-life snippet of what it's like to be induced, a partner's experience when they're watching labour first hand, and most importantly why I heard these two things above anything else!

My name is Amy (and I run Live and Let Dye - a baby and children's clothing business based in Norfolk) and my husband is called Jamie, and this is our journey to becoming parents for the first time!

So, we're sitting in the consultant's office after my first ever New Year's where I didn't go out or have friends round or wait up until midnight, as I was that stereotypical heavily pregnant woman... fat, grumpy and BEYOND tired. Anyway, as I was saying, we were sitting in the consultant's office and we had just been told that our baby was getting very big and that they were going to induce us early on January 18th. We had a date our little girl would be here, OR SO WE THOUGHT!

I had had a fairly easy pregnancy, and apart from the expected sickness my least favourite part was actually getting a bump, rather how quickly I got a bump. I was showing from around 8 weeks and by 15 weeks there was no mistaking we were pregnant, not to mention by 25 weeks I couldn't see my feet (good job it was winter because there was no hope for my poor legs which were sporting a fairly decent winter coat! 😮)

Before walking onto Clay Ward on the Thursday 18th Jan I had read the handouts they'd given me and I had spoken to a lot of people.  The main points I had picked up on was that A: This process is going to hurt a lot more than a normal delivery and B: Don't be a hero, the pain relief is there for a reason, so take it. The handouts had plainly put that induction could take 72hrs to kick in, so working from the Thursday that meant I would be a Mum by the Sunday. WHEYHEY!

We were checked in by our first midwife and given our bed and given some snazzy pressure socks as I would be fairly inactive over the next couple of days in comparison to normal (they were so hard to get on that Jamie had to help me). I was then told to get undressed from the waist down for our first pessary which would stay in for 24hrs. Annoyingly, my cervix was as hard and as closed as it possibly could be and I would need everything to get my body to go into labour. Everything? I asked, so this was the list I was given. (And I'm assuming what any lady going through an induction would be told).

First is the 24hrs Pessary, then 2 x 6hrs pessaries ... and if you need it the doctor can give you a 3rd 6hrs pessary. If at any point your cervix becomes dilated enough to break your waters then you can stop and you will be put in the queue for the delivery suite! If you get to your 3rd pessary and it's still not worked, then they wait 24hrs and start the process again (argh, please not me)

So, we had the first pessary which took us to Friday evening (still nothing), we then had the second pessary AND the 3rd. So that was 3 out of 4 that I'm allowed before having to take a 24hrs break. We're now going into Saturday so my estimations of being in labour and having a baby by the Sunday are slowly slipping away. I was also watching ladies come in and within hours go over to delivery - over and over again. Why was my body not co-operating as well as theirs was!

It's now 6:30am Sunday morning, and this brings GOOD NEWS! "I can touch the babies head and we can break your waters... we'll get the doctor to check you out and as long as they agree, you're in the queue for delivery" FINALLY! But wait, I then get told the queue for delivery is 20 HOURS, IF there are no extra emergencies! NOOOOO! It gets better ... later that day delivery gets shut as it's so busy, meaning noone from the ward can go over to have their babies until further notice (which apparently doesn't happen that often - I just happened to be induced at a very busy time of year, so ladies about to have an induction please don't worry too much about this happening to you - and if it does, don't panic, the hospital has this scenario covered to make sure your birth goes smoothly).

OK, so I'm stuck until further notice ...

Part 2 later in the week, love Amy and Jamie x

 

 


My C-Section:Unfiltered Part 2

Hi again ... my name is Mikaela and earlier in the week I wrote a piece about my emergency C-Section. I also wanted to let you know how I coped at home and getting back to life, especially for pregnant ladies to give them a bit of an insight into what to expect (or be prepared for ... as I certainly wasn't prepared for the next 6 weeks!) Here goes...

If I'm honest being at home wasn't any easier than being in hospital, the pain was constant! Climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed and even moving on and off the sofa was a full blown mission that seemed to take a life time, but it was quieter and I could actually sleep for a few hours at a time. Bending was impossible for those first weeks, so we set up our lives in the living room. Baby slept in his pram, his bath was on the dining table (with a fully equipped changing station), with everything at my height. It was the only way I could actively get involved in learning how to be the mum I'd always dreamt of.

Maternity pads were my new best friend, not just for the after birth bleeding but for my section (what your wound is called). They prevented clothes from rubbing, and were there to apply pressure with if I needed to sneeze, cough or get up out of a chair (I tried so hard not to sneeze). We thought we were doing okay, breastfeeding was a real struggle for me but we were all learning together, however the second morning at home was one of the scariest days of my life.

My little man was crying for a feed, I was tired and got out of bed too quickly using my tummy muscles (you soon find ways to get out of bed, mine was mostly a duck and roll kind of style). I felt a pop and rip across my stitches and froze; blood ran down my leg (watery, but still blood) and I won't even explain to you the images that rushed through my head. After what seemed like a lifetime of fear, chaos and a very brief experience in an ambulance, a midwife said it was a heamatoma that burst but that this was was quite common and I could go back home and wait for the community midwife to visit! QUITE COMMON? Why did nobody tell me to watch out for this? The shock stayed with me for days and I didn't want to sleep in our bed, so took to the armchair as I was too scared it would happen again ... but worse! This wasn't the best idea, resulting in a very sore bum and swollen feet, but I was happier with that then the idea of getting out of bed again.

My community midwife was incredible, and when she saw me in so much discomfort she phoned the doctors surgery and arranged for a doctor to come visit me; she told me what to say and ask for and I was prescribed stronger pain relief that I could use while breastfeeding. 

Things became much more manageable, though the tiny wound created by the burst hematoma didn't heal for 5 weeks, which made walking about very uncomfortable. After a month, I eventually went out with baby and a dear friend who helped me with my bags and pram and it was wonderful, I wished I'd have done it sooner. Staying indoors with family and friends pampering you and your baby is wonderful, but my nerves were severely hit as I hadn't yet experienced the small hurdles which many mums get to do in the first week ... (getting the pram out of the car, setting the pram up, pushing the pram around on your own - going up and down steps into shops, feeding whilst out - you name it, I wasn't used to it!) so it was hard to adjust ... but once I had, it made such a difference to my mental health!

At my six week check I was given the all clear; my scar had healed well, I could drive again and I felt so excited to be independent. So much so that I went for a 5 mile walk. Not the best idea considering I'd pretty much done nothing for 6 weeks, but I loved it. After some working through the nerves, we were off, joining groups, meeting friends and loving our new found freedom (even though my baby hated the car. What kind of baby does not sleep in the car?).

Having a cesarean wasn't something I'd planned for, and surprisingly the fear of the unknown affected me more than I ever expected. That first month was one of the most difficult, yet precious ones I’ve ever experienced in my life. Like everything else in parenthood, it was a phase that had to happen and we got through it together as a family (this includes all my family and friends who helped throughout, and still do). I now have a 9 month old baby who I chase after constantly, I am back at work part-time and I'm carrying on with life just like before (with the extra added addition of course). Simply ... I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for reading and I hope that has helped anyone nervous about the unexpected. All stories are different and everyone has different experiences. This is mine and although it was a little hairy in places, everything worked out and I have the family I always wanted!

x Mikaela – Mummy to Brannon, born at NNUH on 1 June 2017 x


My C-Section:Unfiltered! Part 1

‘We’re going to take you for an emergency cesarean’ were words I NEVER thought I'd hear! My name is Mikaela and I wanted to share my C-Section story to show women that, although C-Sections are scary (there's no doubt about that), you WILL get through it and you'll learn to love your war wounds ... as they gave you the most incredible gift on Earth! 

I was very lucky during my pregnancy, the sickness wasn't pleasant but other than that I had no issues. My birthing plan was straightforward; get the baby out…simple! Or so I thought. I knew giving birth wasn't going to be easy, but I never expected I’d have a C-Section.

How it all started:

A quick check up at 36-weeks with the midwife, all fine, back in the car, and I didn’t even turn the key before the car seat was soaked. Yup, you guessed it, my waters broke. A hospital trip later (where I had to explain that I don't make a habit of wetting myself) the midwife confirmed that my waters had indeed broken so I was sent home to see if labour started naturally. It didn't.

The next day I went back to the hospital (with all my bags) to be induced. First a pessary, then oxytocin (slowly increased to maximum permitted levels), and finally the epidural (which gave me great relief), but still we waited...and waited...and waited. A day and a half and I still wasn't dilated enough. After a final check with two midwives and a doctor, they decided it was time. I should have known this was coming, but I was in shock; they told me whilst my hubby was out of the room and I freaked out, burst into tears and struggled to calm myself (I don’t tend to do that). I'd never really had surgery before; the most I'd had was three stitches in my little finger, but I pulled myself together once my husband returned, then the rest was a whirlwind.

Everything happened so fast:

Midwives, an anaesthetist, doctors - all with friendly smiles, all talking to me (and each other). My lower body was numbed with some amazing drugs, and then to theatre I went. Once on the table, it took 10 minutes and our baby was out, they checked him over; he was perfect, but I was uncomfortable while they stitched (which I later realised wasn't normal). Was it in my head, I wondered, and stupidly sat still silently panicking, before turning to my husband with more tears and finally expressing my pain. Thankfully the anaesthetist quickly gave me gas and air and a bit of morphine: that worked well! He asked me why I hadn’t said something sooner, and why hadn’t I? Embarrassment? Not wanting to inconvenience anyone? Thought I was being a drama queen? I have no idea.

Before I knew it I was off the table and back into bed, my little one in my arms and I'd never felt so happy. Everything I'd just experienced over the last three days didn't matter anymore, he was finally here. The sweet tea and toast also tasted amazing, being the first thing I'd eaten in two days. That night was a blur of breastfeeding attempts, checks, injections and jolty sleep (it's like constantly dreaming that you’ve fallen off a curb).

The next morning they moved me onto the ward. I was still pretty drugged up, though I felt good all things considered. Getting out of bed was a struggle (and apparently should have been done within the first few hours), but I could walk, hunched, but walking nonetheless. I even managed a shower with a lot of help from my hubby. 

Evening came and the pain kicked in; the painkillers had worn off and all that was offered was paracetamol and ibuprofen (and I had to ask for the ibuprofen). They took the edge off, but every movement, no matter how slow, hurt. I asked my hubby to stay the night so he could lift our baby, change his nappies and help me position him to feed - this was a lifesaver, I don't know how women would do it otherwise! On the plus side, I'd also managed my first post-baby poo (holding onto my wound for dear life).

Somehow it was then the morning and after our baby had been fully checked over we were off, but not before I was given six weeks of injections to help prevent clotting, (this was quite a shock as I'd been told 10 days), a bucket load of painkillers, and a mound of notes! I was so happy! I had been in for 3 nights, which felt like a lifetime ... but everything was all OK and we were on the path of parenthood!

Part 2 to come on Friday... (a burst heamatoma, how I coped at home, and getting back to life)

x Mikaela - Mummy to Brannon, born at NNUH on 1 June 2017 x

 

 


Sophie from the night feed chats about how she set her business up after maternity leave. Part 2 Business case study

Hi! I’m Sophie, owner of the night feed. I’ve been selling personalised mother and baby merch, and other cool stuff since June 2017 and here’s how it all happened…

Teaching for 6 years in a special school was the best job in the world. Yes, it came with incredibly long working hours, a questionable work/life balance and a few meltdowns here and there, but I loved that job with every ounce of my being. Do I miss it? Yes! Do I regret resigning? Hell no!

I knew that I didn’t want to return to teaching after my maternity leave ended, and for me it was an easy decision to make. I knew that if I returned part time, I would not have been the teacher, or the mother that I wanted to be, so something had to give. Teaching is amazing, but it consumes you, and I knew that ‘part time’ would never really mean part time.

I wanted to set up my own business and actually set out with a totally different business idea to the night feed. I have a wonderful mother in law who happens to be a business coach, and she ran a course for women setting up businesses when my son Dexter was 4 months old, so the timing was perfect! With the help of friends and family caring for Dex, I escaped for a few hours each Friday for 10 weeks, and what I learnt on that course was totally inspiring and invaluable (the free coffee and Oreos didn’t go amiss either)!

I soon realised that my original business idea would mean I’d end up working full time, and defeat the point of leaving my teaching career behind to spend time with Dex, so I had a re-think. Maybe in a few years time I’ll revisit the original idea, watch this space!

So, the night feed was born. It hasn’t been easy, working hours are all over the place, and I’m spinning a good few plates. I get constant mum guilt for being on my phone replying to emails and customers, or keeping up with social media – but these are important tasks which help build my brand and I have to remind myself that I’m spending far more time with Dex than if I’d had returned to teaching. Starting up was costly, as I needed equipment and stock to print on, but there are some great 0% interest credit cards out there which are a huge help, so do shop around.

This last year has been blooming hard work and I’m still learning the ropes, but I’m enjoying being my own boss and learning lots of new skills (except accounting, seriously – does anyone like doing accounts? If so do they want to come and do mine)? I rely on family looking after Dex when they can and I tend to work when he’s in bed which means I’m pretty tired, but he’ll start attending nursery one day a week soon which will mean I can get loads more done. I’m a terrible ponderer (is that even a word?) so I’m learning to be strict with myself and ignore the housework, or that beautiful Instagram feed I want to distract myself with.

I’m really no guru, and I’m winging my way through this new adventure, but my top tips for anyone wanting to climb aboard the self-employed train are:

  • Get yourself on a course, talk or workshop about anything relating to business. Look out for free talks and events in your local area, these are often advertised on social media so keep your eyes peeled and be open minded about attending.
  • Network, network, network! I don’t just mean pay to go to loads of networking events here. I mean get yourself out and about meeting new people and start making links, wherever you can. I’ve met the most fantastic people at social events and have made some great friendships and business links this way. Talk about your business and tell people what you do, they’ll see you’re passionate and want to know more!
  • Nail social media! Ok, this is easier said than done with Facebook and Instagram constantly changing algorithms, but you really don’t need to be a super tech know-it-all to put decent stuff out there on social media. Post regularly, take good clean images and avoid getting too wordy.
  • Work out your values. (Confession time – I stole this one from the course I went on, but it’s a great place to start). Build your business around your core values, and do not compromise on these. Write them down and every now and then, check in on them and remind yourself what they are.
  • Take the leap, there probably is and isn’t a good time to set up a business (I told you I’m no guru), but there’s no time like the present, so believe in yourself and just go for it!

I look forward to seeing lots of you at The Parent and Baby Show next month, until then – come and say hi on Facebook or Instagram.

Sophie @ the night feed.


Do I REALLY have to go back to work? How to give self-employment a fair shot! Part 1

Between creating the shows, marketing, meetings and my daughter, I don't usually have time to write blogs, but I wrote this recently for an event I was giving a talk at. Unfortunately, due to the snow, I wasn't able to do it - so instead I thought it would make a great blog, perfect for anyone considering becoming self-employed over maternity leave! Over the weekend I will then be following this up with a super case study blog from Sophie at The Night Feed, who set up her business last year during her maternity leave. Sophie is a great example to get inspired from!

I became self-employed straight after University and it was one of the best decision I’ve ever made! I have learnt SO much over the years and so here are a few things I thought you should know if you're thinking about taking the plunge into the World of self-employment! 

When you set up everything is up in the air – you have no security and the only way to bring in money is to somehow MAKE money. YOU. YOURSELF. NO-ONE ELSE. You are the creator of your own destiny. Such a cliché but if there’s ever a time you can REALLY use it then it’s now!

So I started out after University selling vintage stock and running events in the vintage World, and this was my main focus all the way until the end of 2016. I was then desperate to bring to Norfolk a quality, fun, interactive and aesthetically professional and inspiring event for my new love … Mums, Dads, babies and toddlers! I’d been to a few events around and I’d also been to the big show at Olympia and the difference was incredible!

But why! Why is Norfolk often so behind – it shouldn’t be as we have so much talent and so many creatives!

So The Parent and Baby Show was born! My branding, imagery, colours, website are all key to the show, as essentially we’re not a baby blue, baby pink, fairy princess and tractors kind of show! We encompass all things different and fun and innovative………..(we have over 16 workshops and talks, not to mention all the other activities and features) – which can be found here.

So my first key golden nugget for anyone thinking of going self-employed is that if you are to succeed then you must have an idea. If you don’t have a set idea and a clear vision then it’s going to be really difficult. Your mind is already tired and totally baby consumed, so add into the mix being newly self-employed, the worries this can bring and the fact you’ve actually got to start working earlier than when many of your new mummy friends go back to work, It’s not the perfect recipe for success – BUT done well and done correctly could be incredibly empowering, rewarding and the start of a totally new life!

Here are my pros and cons of becoming self-employed over maternity leave. There’s no right or wrong answer here, if you were to decide to go for it then it boils down to individual preferences and what you, as a family choose to put first. One mums perfection is another mums nightmare!

As a positive kinds girl I’ll start with the Pros…

  1. You can do what you want, when you want! – It’s true you can! You can tailor your work around your life suddenly AND be there with your children to watch them grow and never miss their milestones.
  2. When you’re tired you can work in your PJS (!!!) which is pretty darn good for a new/tired mum … no need to get up after 2 hrs sleep with a baby going through separation anxiety all night, get changed, drop them off at nursery and get to work, all before 830am.
  3. You can work ANYWHERE - outside, in a café, on the beach, up a mountain.
  4. You don’t have to plan holiday days – you can go on last minute trips away, or camping during the week when everywhere is a little quieter and more affordable.
  5. You have control and you don’t have to seek approval for anything – this is very empowering and means you get work done much quicker than working for a company.

The Cons…

  1. It can be lonely – you’re not constantly surrounded by work colleagues and there’s no office party or work drinks to look forward to.
  2. You have no security anymore.
  3. Setting up is costly – you need websites, business cards or flyers, a small marketing budget possibly, technology to work from – do you need photoshop or a laptop which isn’t going to crash every 2 minutes?
  4. You will disagree with people over time, you may come up against different personalities and you have to deal with how to cope with these. And you have to do this on your own – you don’t have a business or colleagues backing you and you do end up taking things much more personally than what you ever would have done.

So in a nutshell that hopefully gives you a bit more of an insight into the kind of questions you need to ask yourself before you take the plunge.

Next I thought I’d cover general tips and advice for starting a new business during maternity leave, and I guess – anytime in life:

  1. Know what you want to do – have a clear plan and vision, write a business plan if you’re seeking out investment. If you don’t need investment I actually wouldn’t bother with a business plan as people get hung up on these much too much! Instead, write out: Your initial idea, it’s name, ideas for it’s branding, website thoughts, colours, fonts – Pinterest wil help you with all of this. Find a designer and a web developer or just use online resources such as canva and any online website tool. But whatever you do – get this sorted first as you don’t want to start approaching clients, or going to events with no name or brand or somewhere you can direct people to. If you’re really just testing the waters don’t worry with a website initially – just use social media!
  2. Only start getting out into the public when you’re confident in your ability to sell yourself and your service or product. BUT do push yourself as you will never get this confidence until you start meeting people and spreading the word! Businesses often thrive when customers can meet the face behind the business – so don’t hide, get networking and contact everyone and anyone!
  3. You will have to do a lot for free to start with! If you’re offering a service then find somewhere you can go and offer tasters – for example if you’re offering massages – go to events and do taster massages, go into businesses and offer your services for free … the more people you meet the better! There will then come a time when you’re confident enough to start charging and making a living from your work!
  4. Be approachable and friendly – this is so key! People love people … and if you’re not lovable then people won’t invest in you. Chances are, your business idea is already being done by somebody in the area – so you’ve got to give people a reason to choose YOU! And that doesn’t necessarily always have to be because you’re cheaper, or more flexible … it can also be because people get on with you the best and enjoy you helping them!
  5. Accounts – so many people find these hard to keep on top of, especially when business picks up … initially create a spreadsheet of what you’re spending and what’s coming in, then as things grow you can develop this to help keep track!
  6. A good point for social media – don’t cover your accounts too thinly … if you don’t have time for every account then focus on fewer accounts and do them well!
  7. Depending on what business you're running you will need insurance, PLI Insurance, hygiene certificates ... there's lots here you need to consider and people will always ask you for it, so make sure you have this covered!
  8. Lastly, don’t try and run before you can walk … Rome wasn’t build in a day so don’t expect too much from yourself! Use your time over maternity leave when you’re bringing in money still to develop your idea and get everything into place!

That's about it for now ... look out for Part 2 over the weekend from Sophie!


A dads perspective of Mother's Day by Joe from Mini First Aid Norfolk

I have a confession to make. I don’t like Mother’s Day…

Why?! Well mainly for two reasons. The first is that Mother’s Day seems like a cop out. I’m not against it in principle. I understand the origins of Mothering Sunday as a day when people would return to their ‘Mother Church’ for an annual service and this later developed into a day when servants, especially girls, were allowed a day off to visit their mothers. I accept that this has developed over time to become the day we celebrate today. However what I don’t like is that it is now accepted as the one day of the year when mums get a lay in, breakfast in bed and perhaps taken out for dinner. They don’t have to cook and clean for a day. One day! A year! It feels like allowing your mum this one day of rest makes up for the rest of the year where we expect mums to cook for us, clean for us, taxi us places, go to work to earn money to spend on us. Is this really acceptable in this day and age?

As a dad of three young children I want them to grow up accepting me and their mum as being very different but equal people. I don’t want there to be an expectation of what is mum’s role and what is dad’s role. I have daughters that I want to develop into whatever they want to be and a son who I want to grow up and respect women for whatever they want to be. So I don’t want them to have just one day a year where they treat their mum. I want them to help out every day and spend time with her doing things she enjoys throughout the year. This week we had International Women’s Day and I have to say I think this is just as important as Mother’s Day - celebrating the achievements of women from all around the world.

However I’m not against them making Mother’s Day a particularly special day too! I’m not that much of a killjoy. My children love it and so does their mum. But this leads me to the second reason I don’t like Mother’s Day… the gift. What is a suitable Mother’s Day gift? The problem in our house is we have Christmas, followed by my wife’s birthday in February, then Valentine’s Day and then Mother’s Day. I have run out of gift ideas by March and it takes me until the end of the year to think up some more! We don’t have loads of money so going out somewhere fancy isn’t always an option - especially with a lively toddler to keep entertained! There are chocolates but we are trying to eat healthily. There is wine but how is that different to any other weekend? There are pieces of throwaway tat from the shops that are overpriced and mean very little. We could send her off to spa for the day but she wants to see the children at the weekend. So what are we left with? Of course the ideal gift from your child… something homemade! What could be more special? Well just about anything!

I have tried over the years to guide the children into making nice gifts. Something that will last more than a day and mean something. Do they want to follow my advice? No, of course not. Last year one of my daughters told me she was going to make a card with flowers on - perfect. Not quite. “It is a card with flowers on Daddy but the flowers are brown and there are so many of them that they just look like a brown mess. I’ve also written Happy Mother’s Day on it but I couldn’t remember how to write so I made up my own letters instead.” It came out looking more like an ancient Egyptian artefact than a Mother’s Day card. This year one of them made her a pop up castle. “It doesn’t actually look like a castle Daddybut I know it is a castle so that means it will be special to Mummy.” Does it? Does mummy like pop up castles? Happy Mother’s Day Mummy here is a piece of folded up pink paper with a few bits cut off the top - I’m looking forward to her pretending to love it and then seeing how long before she sneaks off to the recycling bin

Ok I know that these pieces of tat do mean something to her really. So this year I really do hope that everyone enjoys Mother’s Day and I hope that children make terrible gifts that mums pretend to cherish. But I also hope that we all make sure we appreciate all mothers all year long too - mothers, mothers that are no longer with us, mothers who have lost their children and mothers who will sadly never be. They are all special so let them know it.

Written by Joe from Mini First Aid Norfolk. Jo has lots of upcoming classes in a range of locations including: Norwich, Thetford, Mattishall, Holt, Beccles and Hethersett or host a private class at home. See online for the full class list HERE