Designer pals' babies set to have an instant impact on Irish fashion
Two Christmas babies are poised to have a major impact on the Irish fashion scene in 2017.
That's because their mums are two of Ireland's leading fashion designers, Heidi Higgins and Niamh O'Neill - who were both inspired during their pregnancies to include bump-friendly pieces in their collections next year.
Heidi led the way on the baby front and while she was due yesterday, she went into labour early and gave birth on Christmas Eve.
"It's the best Christmas present ever," said Heidi, cuddling her daughter Matilda in Portlaoise hospital, watched by her husband Gearoid Maher.
"I'm thrilled that Matilda arrived in time for Christmas. I had a feeling I would go early, we were women on a mission.
"Matilda was born at 16.17 and weighed 8lb 3oz in the wonderful care of the staff at Portlaoise hospital and under the supervision of Dr Miriam Doyle. It is the first grandchild on both sides so there was huge excitement. After drinking orange juice for months, I'm finally going to have a glass of Prosecco to celebrate the new arrival."
Meanwhile, Co Louth native Niamh and her husband, Garrett Greene from Fermanagh, are expecting their first child in Belfast on New Year's Eve.
But Niamh says she thinks the baby will come early - "probably between Christmas and the new year".
Niamh and Heidi met as fashion students and were classmates at NCAD. They were both married in 2014 and discovered that they were expecting babies a week apart at the season launch of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers of which they are leading members.
Both are famous for their tailoring skills and occasion wear.
They agree that recent months have thrown up lots of ideas for new possibilities in bump-friendly dresses.
Stocked in Brown Thomas, Heidi has her own store in Portlaoise and dresses a string of celebrity clients, from Sabina Higgins to Claire Byrne.
Watching TV on her first day of maternity leave, Heidi nearly jumped off the couch when she saw 'Good Morning Britain' presenter Susanna Reid wearing one of her red dresses.
Niamh's collection is stocked at Arnotts and Kilkenny Shop, as well as independent boutiques around the country.