Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones

When I was pregnant I didn't have any firm ideas about how I'd like to decorate Talitha's nursery, save for the fact I didn't really fancy incorporating the more traditional elements of pink/blue and soft toys everywhere. I was also reluctant to get too into decorating for her as she doesn't really have her own room. It's still a bit of a work in progress, and in fact she's in a room which is a hybrid of a home office for B, a guest room and a nursery. That said, it's worked out pretty well and she has one side of the room, while everything else is fairly well contained on the other side. Having the room as a multi-purpose space has meant that I haven't injected as much colour as I perhaps would if she was in her own little nursery. Instead, I've focused on making her side of the room cosy, with soft pinks and greys that blend into the room's existing scheme.

As someone who loves a new homeware item or two, I was delighted to hear about the new Mamas & Papas collection, designed by the brilliant Niki Jones. (I was even more delighted when they offered to send me a few pieces to try out!) Straight away I could see how the capsule collection was sympathetic to nurseries while not being too 'babyish'. Since becoming parents both B and I have marvelled at the sheer amount of stuff that has built up around our home. Even though we've tried to stick to the essentials it all seems to pile up - and much of it has only been needed for a short season. With this is mind I wanted to create a nursery with items that would last well beyond the first year and would make a nice hand-me-down for future children. (No, I'm not pregnant again before you ask!) 

Safety Note :-

I just want to preface all this by pointing out that Talitha is now one, so we feel a bit more comfortable putting the odd item in her cot. Before this we kept it super simple with her sleeping in a sleeping bag, with nothing else in her cot at all. I've styled the coverlet in her cot, but I think it's also perfectly suited to being used on a chair, on the floor, over your lap... anywhere!

With regards to the bumper, opinion on them is divided but we actually use ours outside the cot bars - not to protect from knocks and bumps - but rather to shield Tal when she lies down in the cot. According to Mamas & Papas the critical element is to remove them when the child can push up on hands and knees/sit unaided around 6 months of age. (I think/hope we're ok as the bumper sits outside the bars on Tal's cot!) 

 Yes, yes - the cot bumper usually would go inside the cot. But we don't usually use a cot bumper to stop bumps and knocks, instead we just use it to block off the end where Tal lies down to reduce distractions when she's falling asleep!

The soft colours in the capsule collection are what appealed to me first of all. The soft grey and pink tones, combined with the more fun pops of warmer colours like the mustard yellow are gorgeous. The geometric design also feel contemporary and add interest. Each piece feels really considered and wouldn't just be restricted to use in a nursery. In fact, the coverlet is now a staple in our living room. It's so cosy to wrap up under, but makes a handy quilt to pop on the floor when any friends with little babies visit.

The collaboration with Niki Jones is such a smart way to bring fresh inspiration to a much-loved brand. Quite aside from Mamas & Papas, her work is inspiring, especially her use of colour and extra detailing such as appliqué and patchworks. The Mamas & Papas vibe is all about products 'designed for parents, by parents' and this collection embodies it beautifully. 

Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones - Gathered Cheer blog
Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones - Gathered Cheer blog

How cute is that moon cushion? I have to admit, I usually play my interiors very safe and stick to soft / muted tones. But this yellow is absolutely beaut and creates just the right amount of interest without being too much.

Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones - Gathered Cheer blog

The detailing on the pieces is stunning too. Who doesn't love a pom pom? Can you spot Tallie in the cot image below getting to grips with the pom poms coverlet? Too cute! There are four other pieces in the collection that are not pictured here: a lampshade, a gorgeous sleeping bag, a sweet house cushion and a beautiful 'Lotus' rug. They all sit alongside each other so well but they'd work really well on their own, complementing an existing nursery scheme. 

Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones - Gathered Cheer blog
Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones - Gathered Cheer blog
Mamas & Papas X Niki Jones - Gathered Cheer blog

Moon cushion | Coverlet |

Cot bumper | Cot sheets (note, these are a larger size, so I tucked them under Tal's matress)

What do you think? It's been so fun styling these new pieces in Tallie's room - I'm pretty sure she loves them too!

Niki Jones X mamas and papas.jpg

The Niki Jones collection is in stores now.

Disclosure - Mamas & Papas gave me the products mentioned in this post for styling and review purposes. All opinions are my own. 


Hello, Patch!

It's a truth universally acknowledged that plants make you happy. Well, I'm pretty sure it is - I don't have the scientific stats to hand to back me up. But whatever the official word on the matter, I know for me that as I fill my home up with plant babies of varying shapes and sizes, everything just feels fresher, greener and, well, nicer. I used to have a total fear of plants - Which should I pick? Where should I put them? Why won't they stop dying? But thanks to cheerful initiatives such as the #urbanjunglebloggers I've grown in confidence and even kept my plants alive, for the most part. One thing I have struggled with though, is the lack of amazing garden centres in London. That's not to say there aren't any, I know there are a lot of top-notch ones, it's more that there don't seem to be any great ones near my home. And when I find myself without the car a trip out to a nearby garden centre seems daunting - especially if you factor in the return journey on the bus, laden with all the plants that could not be resisted. There are of course many wonderful florists and boutiques selling beautiful plants too, but again these seem to be few and far between in my part of town. And so, when the team at Patch gave me a shout to tell me about their offering, I jumped at the chance to speak with their founder, Freddie, to find out more.

 Pictured - my favourite Fiddle Fig plant that I've successfully kept alive!

Pictured - my favourite Fiddle Fig plant that I've successfully kept alive!

Please can you tell me more about Patch and its philosophy?

Whether inside or outside your home or office, Patch helps you discover the best plants for your space, delivers them to your door and helps you look after them. We are looking to fill a gaping hole left by traditional garden centres, which are struggling to deliver value to customers due to rising costs and a slowness to respond to wider consumer trends in retail and online. We are on a mission to transform the UK's gardening market for the digital age by making it easy for people in cities to green up their indoor and outdoor spaces.

For too long, the pleasure of living with plants, whether indoors or outdoors, has been out of reach to young city dwellers. We hope to make it simpler for people to buy the right plants for them and their space. We’re going to use technology to equip them with knowledge, discovery and inspiration and, in turn, provide superb service and convenience. Our aim is to help more people bring their their home or workspace to life with plants..

Patch Urban Gardening interview on Gathered Cheer blog

How does it differ from other online plant sellers?

Back in 2014 I moved in with my girlfriend, and in an effort to put my own stamp on her flat I took on the task of transforming her unloved balcony into a plant-filled oasis. I quickly realised that I’d taken on a bigger challenge than I thought; I was going to have to travel across London to find a garden centre, and once there I wouldn’t know where to begin with choosing plants that were right for the space. Instead I tried looking for a decent online garden centre, but there was nothing out there for an inexperienced urban gardener like myself. In the end I picked up some supermarket plants that died after a few weeks despite my tender care.

While this was going on I heard from friends who had come up against the same problem. That’s where the idea for Patch came from. Lack of experience or living in a city shouldn’t prevent you from getting enjoying all the benefits of living with plants - inside or outside your home or workplace. The way plants are sold and knowledge required to keep them alive in the traditional gardening market is complicated and exclusive, catering to people that measure their space in acres not square feet.

We're trying to make living with and caring for plants as easy as possible to get into. For example, the lingua franca of the traditional gardening market is Latin, which we try to avoid. Instead, we give our plants nicknames that are not only more memorable and familiar, and also reflect the tendency of plant owners to name their own plants. For example, Sansevieria, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is nicknamed Susie after my own mother-in-law!

How do you select what plants make it onto Patch?

We know that people in cities without a lot of experience with plants have a different lifestyles to rural counterparts. To account for this we favour plants that are hardy, as well as good-looking, and can therefore withstand an occasional missed watering or a lack of sunlight. We also stock a lot of plants that purify the air, removing harmful toxins found in polluted cities to make for a healthier home or workspace.

Unlike most large out of town retailers that sell house plants, we only stock plants from growers with the top EU quality rating. This is because we’re in it for the long term with our customers. We know that delivering the healthiest plants possible, alongside our simple care guides and unlimited access to our plant care experts, will make it much more likely that their first urban gardening experience will turn into a lifelong passion.

Patch bathroom collection

What do you say to people who say they always end up killing their plants? Is there hope?

Absolutely. All of us at Patch have a few plant murders in our past, but that’s part of the learning experience. It’s also part of the reason why we offer lifetime plant care support - if you’re worried that your Pippa (Peace Lily) is drooping, or your Chaz (Cheese Plant) is going brown, we can help. We give every new customer access to a free Plant Parenting Course, which consists of up to 20 lessons delivered via email in bite size chunks. All Patch customers can also have a chat with our Plant Rescue Team via our website if things go wrong and their plants need emergency resuscitation. We put together a collection of our toughest houseplants called The (Almost) Unkillables, which are a great starting point for anyone nervous about dipping their toe into plant ownership for the first time.

What are your thoughts on the urban gardening revival?

The traditional gardening market can seem very daunting and inaccessible, so it’s great to see more emphasis on bringing plants into your life regardless of your past gardening experience. It’s particularly important for city-dwellers to try their hand at plant parentship as we spend more than 90% of our time indoors. As well as bringing a touch of nature into your home, some plants filter the air of pollutants that are a more serious issue in cities than suburban or rural areas. For example, in our Air-Purifying collection we’ve got plants that can reduce levels of nasty things like Benzene, Formaldehyde and Carbon Monoxide.

Houseplants are a fantastic way to bring any space to life and make it your own without having to get the builders in, which is particularly relevant in urban areas where the majority of people rent their homes or offices. We have hundreds of professional interior designers as customers and have been featured in a number of top interiors magazines, so it seems that more and more people are realising how easy and effective plants are as living art or furniture - indoor or outdoors.

What unique challenges do urban gardeners face?

Urban gardeners usually measure their space in square feet rather than acres, so have to be strategic about how they use it. You might not have any bright south-facing windows, for example, so have to go for plants that are happier in shade. We think about our collections from different angles to accommodate this. For example, our bedroom collection is full of plants that are good air-purifiers or increase Oxygen levels at night to improve your sleep, but won’t clutter up your space at the same time.

We also get time-poor Londoners asking how much care their plant will need. It’s clear that there’s a lot of anxiety around neglecting your plant, and we often see plant owners overcompensate; when we get questions about why a plant is unhealthy the most common reason is actually  that it has been overwatered! We live such busy lives that  looking after a living thing can seem daunting - but by offering our customers unlimited access to our plant care support team we hope to assure them that it doesn’t need to be.

What are your hot plant picks for 2018? Will succulents and cacti still be faves or is something else coming up to steal their crown?!

Succulents and cacti are always a great option for a lot of people, as they’ll need very little watering. However, I think we’ll see health and wellness trends make their way further into the plant world with an emphasis on the health benefits of living with plants at home or in the office.

Which plants are your faves in the Patch gang?

Big Ken (Howea Forsteriana) is a staple in the Patch plant gang - he has a remarkable ability to transform a room thanks to his statement palm fronds which cast amazing shadows on the wall. On the smaller side, Rapunzel (Golden Pothos) has beautiful heart-shaped leaves that tumble off a bookshelf or from a hanging planter.

Big Ken (Howea Forsteriana) Patch Urban Gardening

Thank you for your time, Freddie! You can find Patch over on their website, and give them a follow over on Instagram too!

-x-
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Photo credits // All images courtesy of Patch, except for image 1, which is styled and shot by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer. 


My Hospital Bag (AKA the most fun thing to pack, ever)

While it took me a little while to get organised with my hospital bag, I did find it was really fun putting it all together in anticipation of our little babe's birth. I think they recommend you pack it anytime around 36 weeks, just in case of an early arrival - but I don't think I packed mine until a few days before my due date. As it is I went overdue anyway, and kept having to dive into it to use some of the toiletries etc. In the end I think I took about three separate bags which meant a fair bit for B to carry! I ended up with a small wheelie suitcase with mine and baby's main belongings, a small carrier bag with snacks and drinks and B had his backpack too. 

I love writing lists, so ahead of packing my bag I wrote endless lists, all the while scouring Pinterest for any and everything I might possibly need. It got a little overwhelming so in the end I broke it down further and then I put each collection of items into its own pouch. The theory being that B would know what was in each one and could quickly grab any of it as and when it was needed. (By the way, this is one of the best pieces of advice I was given - make sure your birthing partner knows where you stuff is stashed. You probably won't fancy rooting through your bag yourself as you may be a little preoccupied!)

It's fair to say I took a grand total of no photos of my hospital suitcase...so I'm sharing a few fun photos of a tiny Tallie instead...

 Two days old. Look at that squishy face!

Two days old. Look at that squishy face!

FOR ME

POUCH 1 - LABOUR 

  • Bendy straws - handy for sipping at water throughout labour, even when in funny positions! 

  • Massage oil - I'd heard how good and uplifting orange oil was so I was keen to give it a try and with each contraction in early labour B massaged this oil into my lower back. As it turns out, it really helped me relax and keep breathing through it all. I had tons left over afterwards and it's been lovely to use after showers to keep my skin soft.

  • Mints - I didn't really need these, but it was nice to have them on hand.

  • Lip balm - yes oh yes. My lips got super dry making this and water absolutely essential.

  • Nightdress - I had an old nightie that had skinny straps and was super soft and light, and this was just what I needed. Plus, it being old I didn't care that after labour it went straight in the bin! (There's one similar here.) As mine was pretty loose it also meant that straight after giving birth I could feed Tallie, even though it didn't have fancy pull down bits at the front.

  • Hair ties - I packed a ton of these as I couldn't risk B not being able to find them, there is nothing worse than feeling hot and bothered and not being able to find a bobble...

  • Sweets - as it turns out I was ravenous while waiting for the induction to kick in, but once things got going food was the last thing on my mind. The sweets were nice afterwards though. I also took a big tub of Haribo for the midwives to put on their station which I think was happily received! 

  • Face spray - I got a travel spray bottle and just filled it with cool water once I was in active labour. B then could spritz my face occasionally which brought some lovely cool relief.

  • Face cloth - much like the spray bottle, a cool flannel is handy to dab your brow with once things get going. (Certainly if you're anything like me and feel like you run a few degrees hotter than most!)

POUCH 2 - TOILETRIES

  • Shower gel

  • Shampoo

  • Deodorant

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Moisturiser - I had this cream and used it on my face and body and loved it. Quite sad to have run out now tbh.

  • Emery boards - I don't know about you, but if I snag my nail and I don't have an emery board to hand it is so hard to think about anything else!

  • Hand cream - lots of hand washing definitely takes its toll so this is a nice one to have handy on your bedside.

  • Hand sanitiser - not essential if you have a private room with a sink, but so handy to keep on standby for before/after nappy changes.

  • Pack of tissues - I don't go anywhere without these, and hospital was no different!

POUCH 3 - AFTER CARE

  • Nipple cream - if you're wanting to breastfeed this stuff is amazing while you get the hang of it. 

  • Breast pads - so handy for any leaky moments. I had (and still have) disposable ones, but in future I'd be tempted to get washable ones like these bamboo ones.

  • Maternity pads - I took two packs of these with me and that was plenty, though I did stock up again once I was home. 

  • Maternity mats - these were provided by the hospital, but I added them to this list as I made sure I had them handy for when I returned home. They were really handy for changing Tallie on those first few days, as the nappies were interesting to say the least!

POUCH 4 - MAKE UP

  • Tinted moisturiser - I didn't want anything too fussy, just something to hydrate and even out my skin tone, ahead of welcoming visitors. I love this by La Roche Posay.

  • Mascara - my usual staple.

  • Tinted lip balm - I love these by Korres as they have a lovely pigment, but are light and non sticky.

  • Concealer - bags be gone!

  • Pressed powder - only for a light dusting, but I don't think I really used it as the ward was so warm and my skin was pretty dry.

I then also packed: 

  • Maternity notes - essential!
  • Flip flops - for showers while you're on the postnatal ward, our showers were clean, but still...
  • Towel - our hospital provided towels which actually weren't too bad, but I still preferred to have one from home.
  • Other PJs - while I wouldn't recommend taking your fancy pjs to hospital (save them for when you're home as you may still be a bit messy). In the end I stuck to wearing my big pants and a comfy vest top while I was in hospital, and I put on old loose pj bottoms for trips to the bathroom etc. 
  • Nursing bras - I had these for sleeping in, and these for day time wear. 
  • Comfy clothes - I was only in for one day and night following Tallie's birth, so I wore my pjs most of the day and had comfy clothes for going home in. My feet had swollen so much that I ended up needing to wear my flip flops to go home. I made sure I took the nursing vest tops I had as they made things so much easier while I was getting to grips with feeding. These from H&M are a staple in my wardrobe now. 
  • Big pants - cotton, comfy and essential after birth. I also got some of these disposable pants for right after birth, when things were still a bit messy.
  • Dressing gown - I did pack one of these (a thin light one) and began active labour wearing it, but it got so in the way with its tie straps that I ditched it in the end. I didn't feel I needed one on the ward afterwards either as it was so so hot!
  • Headphones - I listened to a lot of music in the early stages of labour, so headphones were essential. They would also have been handy on the postnatal ward (so noisy most of the time) but as it is I managed to snag a private room.
  • Wooly socks - I packed my favourite snuggly socks, but in the end I was so hot (maternity wards like to keep things toasty) that I didn't need them.

FOR BABY

  • Nappies - these aren't provided at hospital so we took about half a pack (around 10-15) I think, which was plenty given our short stay. But we also didn't stress out as the hospital was not far from lots of shops, so B could have dashed out and got more had we needed them. 

  • Muslin cloths - x3 ideal for burping and cleaning up any and everything. 

  • Cotton wool - we didn't really use this, as when the nurse came to teach us how to wash Tallie, she brought her own cotton wool with her. 

  • Baby wipes - we used Water Wipes at first, instead of using cotton wool and water for nappy changes as it was so much quicker and easier.

  • Sleepsuits - we took 3 of these, size 'up to one month' as well as 2 newborn sizes. Not really sure why we took the newborn ones as she was so big they never got a look in!

  • Short sleeve vests - x3 to wear under the sleepsuits.

  • Hat - we didn't put Tallie in one in our room as it was so warm, but we had it on standby for the journey home.

  • Scratch mitts - I packed a pair of these but they weren't used as the sleepsuits had them integrated.

  • Coat - we didn't get a coat exactly, but we did have a warm hoodie type jacket for the journey home.

  • Blanket - I used this cellular blanket and it was perfect, plus it lasted a long while once we got home before she outgrew it.

  • Car seat - another essential!

 One of the first photos of little Tallie. Only a few hours old and already a fan of grey!

One of the first photos of little Tallie. Only a few hours old and already a fan of grey!

FOR B 

  • Phone

  • Wallet - including change for the car park at hospital. Thankfully our hospital gave a good discount on a longer term parking pass to those having a baby!

  • iPad - handy for the quieter moments when they need to pass the time.

  • Chargers - I gave B mine too, to keep handy. 

 Look at how teeny she was! This was taken when she was four days old, when we'd been readmitted as I had a post birth infection.

Look at how teeny she was! This was taken when she was four days old, when we'd been readmitted as I had a post birth infection.

And that's it. Looking at the list it does seem to be an awful lot of stuff, but as you can see some of it was a 'just in case' addition to the bags. 

What about you? Did you pack anything different in your bag? I love this article about what women have with them at birth, from around the world. So fascinating and it really makes me grateful for the amazing (free!) care we have access to in this country.

-x-


A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower

In celebration of our little Tallie turning six months all this week on the blog I'm sharing some stored up posts to bring us right up to date. You can hear all about Tallie and her arrival here, see her nursery nook here and read why I'm a huge advocate for maternity shoots here. Once this week's posts have run normal service will resume - with more interiors, DIY and book posts - not just parenting and family posts, promise! 

Today I wanted to share a little peek into my baby shower which was such a special afternoon. Contrary to popular opinion, I decided to co-host my baby shower with my bestie, Ruthie. (Our mums obviously have great choice in names!) I love planning events and had such set ideas about what I wanted to create that it felt right that we'd make it happen together, and my goodness I really couldn't have done it without her. The plan for the afternoon was simple, it was a baby shower for someone who didn't love the idea of having a baby shower! You may have guessed by now, but I really don't like the attention being on me. All I really wanted was a good excuse to gather together with some dear friends, to eat some tasty treats and to pray together as we celebrated the imminent arrival of my little one. 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

Here's a little more detail about what we got up to...

DECOR

The shower was held on a grey afternoon in January, so adding flowers and candlelight was essential to lighten our home and to create a cosy atmosphere. The day before the event I stocked up on simple blooms and greenery - including ranunculus, eucalyptus, spray carnations and wax flower. By picking flowers which easily separate into little posies, we made up several little arrangements and dotted them around my home. They were everywhere from the dining table and fireplace hearths to the kitchen drinks station and even in our bathroom. We also used the same flowers to decorate our doughnut stack and cake. It's amazing how something as simple as adding flowers to some cheap and cheerful doughnuts makes them look so much more fun and pretty.

Next we added candles - both scented candles from Anthropologie and simple tealights. We emphasised the twinkly feeling with string lights too. I love the ones that just need batteries, they look great and don't need a power socked - winner! 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

I'm a sucker for banners and bunting, so of course we strung up lots of these! By sticking to the party colours (pink, grey, gold) it all tied in nicely, without being too fussy. We also hung the 'love' balloon as I couldn't resist it! It's now hanging in our bedroom as I can't bear to be parted from it.

Finally, I dotted a few little baby bits around the house. I had a sweet pair of crochet baby booties and a snuggle toy which were sweet and made the party feel more like a baby shower.

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

FOOD & DRINK

We served a selection of sweet and savoury snacks including a delicious carrot cake, vanilla sugar cookies (which we'd stamped 'hello baby' on roll out icing), chocolate dipped strawberries and plenty of popcorn. To make the sweet treat table look pretty I gathered a selection of glasses and plates to display everything in. Even a simple treat like mini eggs look extra special when put out in martini glasses. 

For drinks, we set up a 'pimp your prosecco' station. I labelled carafes and filled with different juices, and put chopped fruit in bowls. Guests could then grab a jam jam (complete with gold foil straw), pour prosecco and add whatever juice or fruit they fancied. 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog | Mimosa bar
A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog
A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog
A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

DETAILS/ ACTIVITIES

While I didn't relish the idea of traditional baby shower games, I did want to do a couple of things to mark the occasion. I'd seen 'wishes for baby' cards available to download on various blogs before and I wanted something similar. I'm such a stationery fan and this was one of the most special elements of the day so I came up with a loose design concept and then commissioned Quill London to print the cards. I was thrilled with them! The calligraphy element looked so beautiful and then when they were filled in I was left with a pile of sweet messages, hopes and dreams for Tallie. I'm so looking forward to sharing them with her when she's older. 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

The final part was a lovely time of prayer with my dear friends. Needless to say I was pretty apprehensive ahead of having Tallie, so gathering with friends to commit it all to God was so precious and the highlight of the afternoon. I felt so priviliged to be surrounded by such incredible women, knowing they'd each be an important part of Tallie's life. 

It was such a joyful afternoon and I'm so grateful to everyone who came and made it so special. And of course my biggest thank you goes to Ruthie, as she made it all happen! We wouldn't have had anything to eat if it weren't for her amazing baking skills - the biscuits, cakes and pastries were all made by her. Thank you, friend. You're the best! 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

I'll be back with a couple more posts this week - including one on the things we've most used these past six months having Tallie. See you soon.

-x-

All photos shot and styled by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer


Five Reasons To Book A Maternity Shoot

Today's post has me a little nervous. Because, while I wholeheartedly believe what I'm about to say, it means me putting more images on this blog of yours truly. Not something I relish. I tend to prefer to beautiful interiors images, pretty views or more recently photos of my sweet little babe. But that's also kind of the point behind this post. That while you may be like me in your dislike for appearing in photographs, it's actually a really lovely and special thing to do from time to time. Getting pregnant wasn't quite as straight forward as I may have anticipated (you can read more about our journey here) and so it felt right to record this special moment. That while I felt even bigger than usual, it was a precious miracle that was cooking away in my belly and that deserved to be celebrated.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

I'd seen Siobhan Calder on Instagram (here and here) and loved her images so it felt like a natural fit to ask her to take my portraits. Siobhan has a magical way with light which is so different to my usual predilection for bright, white (often overexposed) shots. I knew that she'd capture this quiet moment for us beautifully and we'd be left with images to treasure forever. I wasn't wrong. Usually my first thought upon seeing myself in photos is to zone in straight away on my appearance. Don't we all do that? It can be the most amazing photo and all we see is our flaws. But these photos were different. Instead of seeing flaws and feeling uncomfortable, my initial thought was just how happy I looked and even now looking at them takes me back to that moment of excitement waiting for our little Tallie to arrive. It felt like the most effortless shoot, too. Siobhan and I chatted over cups of tea and she snapped away all the while. There were no cheesy forced grins or awkward poses. I didn't fancy doing any full on belly shots and that was fine because she captured me. The bump is there, just not taking centre stage. She knew where the light was and played to that (on one of the greyest days in January!) and it all felt so easy. A surprisingly fun morning for a camera shy person like me. And now that Tallie is here and B and I are already often found looking at pictures from when she first arrived, I also find myself going back to these photos too. From when she was still safely nestled in my belly. I was full of cold, but felt that strange mixture of calm and excited a month before my due date.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

So, if you're pregnant and sitting on the face debating whether to have some maternity photographs taken here are five good reasons to do it...

IT'S A PRECIOUS MOMENT

Pregnancy is one of those amazing moments in life that makes you go 'wow'. It's probably why perfect strangers see fit to reach out and touch your bump, or stop to chat asking all the usual 'when's it due?' questions. Bringing life into the world really is a miracle. And pregnancy doesn't happen everyday, or more often that a few times in a woman's lifetime, so it's precious. I don't know if I'll be pregnant again and so recording this treasured moment was something that felt really right for us. 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

PREGNANCY IS BEAUTIFUL

Ok so depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy you might be contending with morning sickness, swelling, nausea or feeling super achey. And this might make appearing in photos feel less that appealing. But you still look gorgeous. Trust me, you do. I loved my big bump as for the first time in ages I didn't feel self conscious about my tummy! Looking back at photos of yourself from pregnancy you'll see your lovely bump and remember your little one growing inside you - you honestly won't see your swollen ankles or anything else you might otherwise be hung up on. 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

THE MEMORIES WILL ENDURE

There's something magical about photographs that means that they capture more than just a moment in time. They capture so much more - the smells, the emotions, the sounds... As I said earlier, my own maternity photos remind me of the grey day in January, when I was full of cold and downing copious amounts of warmed honey and lemon. The house was as still as can be, with lights on and candles flickering. Anticipation filled each room as we waited and prepared and imagined what life might soon look like. If feels so special to be able to look at images and have all this conjured up time and again.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

IT'S FUN

Pregnancy can feel a bit like a slog especially towards the end. So taking time out just for you to sit, rest and generally reflect on it all is really lovely. And if you decide to have photos taken with your partner and any other children it'll be a happy moment for you all to enjoy together as you anticipate your new arrival. I found the morning with Siobhan so calming and enjoyable - which totally surprised me as ordinarily I feel so tense having my photo taken. It was just her and me as B was at work and it just felt like hanging out with a lovely friend, I was barely aware of her snapping away.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE IT

Obviously Tallie is still to young right now but I imagine that as she grows she'll be keen to see photos of her as a baby and photos of her as a bump. I think it'll be such a special thing to enjoy looking at together as I tell her stories of how I felt, what labour was like, how we first felt to be parents. I love hearing stories from my own childhood and it makes me happy to think of passing similar memories onto Tallie. Of course, these portraits don't need to just capture you. They could be images of corners of your home, sweet gifts you've been given or particularly treasured items. For us, these other photos included ones of our sitting room, some sweet crochet booties and a precious print with a bible verse on. (You can see the print more here). So not only will Tallie be able to see my bump and me, but she'll get a little peek at what her first home looked like too. (I wonder if it'll seem as weird and outdated as when I look back at our first home and its furnishing way back in the 80s and 90s?!) 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

So, have you had maternity photos? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on Instagram! 

If you're looking for a photographer I'd so happily recommend Siobhan. Go see her amazing work here.

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All photos shot by Siobhan Calder