November 29, 2005

What To Get The New Mom For Christmas (&c.)

Let me tell ya, new dad, with this subject line-- "christmas, newborn, sexy nursing lingerie"--you're lucky your email got through at all.

Since it did, and since it's a timely, worthwhile question, I'm throwing it out for suggestions. Here's the deal:

elle-macpherson.jpgA new dad [we'll call him Jason, so it could be 20% of the male population of the US born between 1970 and 1980. another story.] has an 8-week-old son and "an extremely amazing wife [who's nursing, apparently, and] needs things to make her happier still. I'm looking for some "things haven't changed forever" lingerie, and apart from the elle mcpherson range, wondered what you and The People might suggest. (I'm open minded about other presents too, but this is
up there)."

First, I suggest not mentioning Elle MacPherson [above, left] around a woman who just gave birth to your child. And that goes double for Heidi Klum.

Second, I'm assuming you've already given her the customary "thanks for birthin' my baby" jewelry. [No? First you've heard of it? No sweat. That just means your wife didn't read "The Girlfriend's Guide." And unless I get corroboration from a credible guy source, that "birth jewelry" thing is less "custom" and more "nice idea."]

But back to lingerie. Reliable sources reminded me that 2-3 months post-partum could be a very tricky time for buying lingerie. Remember to take care of how the new curves are plotted. Nursing? That probably mean a new/different cup size. Great, right? Yeah, unless those enlarged breasts are raw and painful to the slightest touch.

And depending on how the post-pregnancy yoga regimen's going and how much baby weight is still around at 10-12 weeks, you might want to focus on pieces that don't focus on the midriff or booty, depending. "Asymmetrical" "A-line" was a word I was given. Tell it to the lingerie salesperson when you explain your situation. "Tent-like," "caftan," and "Zsa Zsa Gabor," meanwhile, were words I came up with myself. Steer clear.

Just to be safe, I like to throw a bit of money at the problem, so I'd say track down some La Perla. Even if you miss, a piece of La Perla is like a silky gift certificate, which also gets you points for trying.

But one thing to watch for is how lingerie will play at all. A nursing mom can often feel tied down, trapped, and not in control of her own body. In that context, a little old-fashioned throwdown may be exactly what she doesn't want at the moment. So watch for that. If the feeding-every-2-hrs thing is getting her down, maybe the ticket is tickets to something. Get out of the house, do something normal. [and if you can swing by a hotel, sure. Play that one by ear.]

Anyone out there want to help a brother in need?


Jewelry is ALWAYS a "nice idea." I haven't read "The Girlfriend's Guide" but was led to believe there would be something in that realm forthcoming after pushing 8 pounds 10 ounces of baby into the world. HA! I was obviously mistaken.

You are sending Jason in the right direction, with all the appropriate cautions. If I were not now striken with a severe case of "mom ass" La Perla would be very nice. I would definitely award points for the effort.

Jason, you have your heart in the right place, bless you. I suppose it all depends on your "taste". Mine happens to be very pared down, so I love Bodas (, a British line that can be bought in the US. Simple, sculptural, minamalissimo and sexy without being tarty. Agent Provacateur, which has a store in NYC is another high end British line, and known for their "witty"/cheeky lingerie. Myla ( also British (but you can buy from their US site) is also gorgeous. Why all British you ask? That's the last place we were living before babies!

Now, as to whether your wife will want to wear this stuff while she is still nursing is another matter. Frankly, I think she'll be more comfortable wearing one of those tank bras which are great for not exposing a post-partum midriff to the world. I can only go from my experiences (and what I hear from friends), but it takes a lonnnng time before a nursing woman feels both physically and mentally ready to get into lingerie. Your post made me laugh--in a good way. GL!

Before reading the entire post, I had a totally different 'nursing' image in my mind from the title...

[someone has white orthopedic shoes, size 11, on his Christmas list? -ed.]

Dude...As a credible guy, I just want to say that I'm fairly positive that "birth jewelry" has crossed into the category of mandatory custom (or at least it has on the isle of Manhattan.)

It's a far safer bet than going with lingerie anyway. What if you get her something that's a size too big? Why take that risk? You could be in the doghouse for months!

No,, while costlier, is the far safer option.

[see, I STILL say you can trace it all back to "Girlfriend's Guide" and Urbanbaby, where EVERYTHING is an excuse to get yet another piece of jewelry out of the I-banking DH before he has an affair with that tramp from the office. This jewelry thing's been eating at me for, oh, 2 years now, so I guess I'd better elevate it to its own post, if only for the amusement of non-NY'ers. -ed.]

Not sure I'd go the lingerie route personally. If you really want to what I'd do is find a good lingerie store locally, take her there and let her get fitted and buy whatever she feels comfortable with and some matching underwear. Really 8 weeks post partum I didn't want anyone really touching my breasts since I was nursing every 2 hours but getting properly fitted for a nursing bra was heaven. And that's about the time things begin to level off in terms of changes to your body. If you can find a lingerie store that has a color for nursing bras other than virginal white, so much the better. I've never quite understood why after giving birth and probably having sex the lingerie for feeding your kid seems to be limited to bridal colors.

And then send her off to a day spa for some pampering. The little things that make you feel like you have a better grip on your new life and are returning to "normal" (whatever that is) go a long way to making a happy new mother.

Yeah, not from NY or a reader of "The Girlfriend's Guide", but jewelry was a given.

Jewelry is a whole lot easier than lingerie at 8-weeks postpartum. Everything will probably be a bit different next week anyhow...

A trip to the dayspa or a massage is another good way to go. If she's feeling better physically, she'll feel better emotionally. My wife got a massage post-birth and it cheered her up a whole lot, if you get my meaning.

Good luck with holiday shopping.

If I would have gotten lingerie while nursing it would have sent me into a tailsping of crying/rage. But maybe that's just me. Your wife may be a little more emotionally balanced. Also, as others have mentioned, sizing is all off right now, so you would be buying something that only fits for a few months.

I second the dayspa idea, that would have been perfect. A chance to just let your brain and body relax for a while.

PS - I never got jewelry for having babies. But then again, my husband didn't get me an anniversary present this year. *Sniff.*

Feeling better about yourself and lingerie do not go together in my mind after giving birth... I am myself 3 months after delivery and I wonder what would I do with such a gift... Probably start crying if its my old size and cry even more if its my new size... What about a non-size-related item? A beautiful brag book in leather to put pics of that fantastic baby she takes care of so well, a cashmere throw or cashmere gloves and scarf... The spa / masssage thing sounds great also... Coming earlier from work often to be with her and the kid... Take Friday off once in a while (that costs money also, right...) to stay with her. I read the " Girlfriend guide" book and did not receive jewelry when I gave birth. I was hoping she was joking in that book.

Close. You got it almost right.

[hi, honey! you still upset about the jewelry? -ed.]

No jewelry for either baby here in the merry midwest. What a rip! I also was fairly small to start with and had lost all but ten pounds by that point. I think babydolls or a matching camisole and panties would have been okay to me at that point. No thongs! Flirty and cute, not overtly sexy, would be what I'd be shooting for.

I would go with sensual but not necessarily sexual, and not size-based. I'm thinking cashmere robe. Or the spa/massage thing, but she may not be ready to use it yet.

I am not a fan of the baby jewelry -- I find it a bit creepy to get "paid" in a diamonds-are-a-girls-best-friend kind of way for becoming a parent. That said, I do like jewelry, so if your wife does too, and you know her taste, you can get her something that's just for her. But I would personally be offended at a generic "expensive piece".

(btw - I live in Long Island, and in my world, the baby jewelry is far from mandatory)

Personally, 8 weeks post-partum, I would have probably committed a homicide if my DH came home with lingerie!

I think people are on the right track suggesting jewelery, a day at the spa, etc. I would have loved a maid service once a week for a year so I could concentrate on looking after my DD. You could also get her a bottle of her favourite perfume or even a personal chef to cook a meal or two a month for the year to take some of the pressure off her.

I don't know if they have the same thing there as they do here, but there's a company that runs a sort of 'choose your own experience' kind of thing. It's a gift certificate that allows you to use it as a pass to a spa, a day of golf, a wine tasting...pretty much anything you want to do for a day is covered. I think the prices start at $200 (Cdn).

If you're still interested in going the lingerie route, tread carefully, my friend. Not only is she not back to pre-baby sizes yet, her body will change weekly, if not daily for about the first year.

There was no bestowing of jewelry at my house, brother. I'm as chock full of admiration of the birthing process as any father can be, but I don't get the admiration=jewelry connection. Does Debeers really need MORE support?

Maybe that's a little west-coast granola, but I'm sticking to my guns. Jewelry. What the hell? Isn't the BABY the awesome reward? That was my theory, anyway, and I never heard a word of complaint from the lovely.

hmm...the cashmere idea sounds dangerous, b/c one accidental spit up by the kid and the robe/scarf/sweater is ruined. jewelery is nice, but i agree with some of the above postes: it better be personal and not just some generic "you done a good job, hon" kind of thing. i think anything having to do with getting mom out of the house is a winner, whether it's a day at the spa or just a garuanteed hour and a half every sunday afternoon where dad babysits and mom can go do whatever the heck she wants - shopping, coffee, even an uninteruppted nap out in the back yard hammock.

what about 2 sets of washable silk jammies? drawstring waist, of course, nothing lacey or frilly, just comfy but feel oh-so-good and are meant to be oversized. that way when there's some spitting during that 3am feeding, she can whip them off, toss them in the hamper, and still have a fresh pair to put back on :)

[eh, you can throw cashmere in the washing machine. Just not the dryer. block it out flat on a towel instead. -ed.]

Apparently, there's some sort of tradition (Jewish? New York? both? neither?) of giving a "push" present. Considering she did the majority of the work, who am I to argue with tradition?

Oh, yeah, and when she was ready, we went lingerie shopping (3 or 4 months--when we both saw daylight, again).

My mom got jewelery when she gave birth to my sister in '68, and me in '74. We grew up knowing that when we grew up, that piece would be ours. Not when she died, but when we grew up. It was pretty nice to get something on my 20th birthday that my mom got when I was born.

I told my husband that story when I got pregnant, and repeated it weekly until I gave birth. My expectations were for a piece of jewelry that I could pass on to my child. Not diamonds, not expensive, just thoughtful.

If my husband had come home w/lingerie while I was postpartum, feeling bad about myself, nursing, fat-as-all-get-out, etc., I would not have thought it was a nice gift. I would have thought, "Hmmm. He must be desperate to get some."

Jewelry? Nice. Spa day? To me, nicer. Regular babysitter for you-are-a-mom-but-still-a-person once a week? The perfect, perfect gift. One size fits all.

Jewelry=DeBeers? Who knew? I'm as anti-DeBeers as you can get, but my husband bought me custom made jewelry for both kids with the birthstones of each kid. It is my intent to give it to them one day.

If she still hasn't found that perfect nursing bra, Bravado has it ( and has cute matching underwear, but I'm not sure I'd make that the primary gift. I like the spa ... for things like facial, manicure, pedicure, not massage as I felt I was ALWAYS being touched at that point. And tickets are good. Or even possibly a few luxury food items depending on how she is feeling. Remember, you need 300 extra calories a day while pregnant, but 500 extra while breastfeeding.

Do NOT buy lingerie, read "want to return to my old self" in "things haven't changed forever" idea. If lingerie is her idea, she maybe thinking she will feel more like her old self. But trust me as soon as she looks in the mirror, she won't be happy.

Instead, think of a gift that doesn't highlight the concrete body image, go with something more abstract. Evening out with you, day spa, and jewelry is ALWAYS a good choice. Especially if she doesn't have enough energy to stay awake to go out, and the thought of being massaged makes her wince.

At 8wks I was still horrified by the way I looked and felt even worse, only time has fixed that -which it has. What's she's asking for is to feel like her old self again. Because nothing feels or looks the same, give her something that will make her feel like she used to. Or at least take her mind off of how she's feeling now, that's at the heart of what she's wishing for.

Sure, get her a nice piece of jewelry, and I'd also recommend heeding Greg's advice on navigating the minefield that is post-partum sex. But realize this: IMHO the best gift you can give to your wife is your love, your time and your energy. Make the meals. Do the housework. Be her partner. And not just for an hour or so a week.

And ladies, while it's not required to receive jewelry, it sure does feel nice after all that work. It started as a joke between me & my husband. But I felt pretty damn special when he showed up with a little bling for me the next day.

We're coming up on 7 months postpartum, here, and for me lingerie at 2 months would have been the very most depressing possible gift--sweet and hopeful, but woefully unrealistic. Not to mention, implied pressure.

What we got at 4.5 months was much more effective at getting us back in the sack than silky panties. We sucked it up and hired an in-house babysitter to come 4-5 mornings a week for an hour or two. I now have predictable time to take care of myself and the house as well as the baby (exercise, shower, do laundry & dishes). I have more time to play happily with the baby instead of trying to carry him up and down stairs with loads of laundry. I highly recommend it if you have the means. If you don't have the means, get creative--share a sitter with a neighbor, cut out some other luxury you don't need, tolerate an overeager grandparent on a regular basis. We ditched the daily dogwalker we needed when both of us worked full time plus overnights. All of us are much, much happier now, and I couldn't have predicted what a difference this made. Should have done it sooner.

Lingerie at 8-week postpartum is a big NO NO ... unless it is her idea. Jewelry, massages, trip to the spa, cooked meals, someone to help her, a maid service, doing the laundry and putting them away are definitely much better.

Personally, I would have loved to get a professional hair cut, a manicure and pedicure. Better still, get my girlfriends to go with me. In the meantime, DH clean/tidy the house and look after dearest baby. Then have my girlfriends to come over to coo over my baby while I'm looking good with nice hair and nails. Well ... next time, I will know what to ask for. I guess I was too sleepy to ask for anything the first time around.

Enjoy your Christmas!

I told my DH about the jewelry tradition, but then stated I wanted an ipod instead! I don't wear any bling, other than my wedding band. Lingerie seems tacky to me (unless purchased with the intended recipient in tow, preferably somewhere cool like Agent P).

Having said that though, I like the jewelry-you-get-to-pass-on-to-your-kid idea. I just would probably never wear it, so probably not as meaningful to me. . .

Bella Materna makes pretty, sexy nursing stuff if that's what you're thinking. There are matching panties, so I think that counts as 'lingerie.'


Noooo, not lingerie! At 4months p.p., lingerie would be an immediate turn-off and pressure-monger. A day spa would be wonderful, as would a dinner in restaurant of my choice. Perhaps the 'personal touch' would be a good addition - a "cheque book" of personal chore cheques she could cash when she wants? (eg 'i will do laundry for a week', 'i will iron my own shirts for a week', 'i will vacuum the house this week' - you get the idea). The thought of all my daily chores being taken away for a week being more sexy to me than lingerie, well it's pretty tragic but true! Another great gift would be sitting with the kid whilst you send your wife off with your credit card to buy something she wants - that way you get the personal touch (the break), and she gets what she wants without you getting it wrong.

I did get new jewelry (a watch that wouldn't scar the kiddo) but what would have really rocked would have been a dula for a week post c-section, husband buying groceries, baby items, cooking dinner (and delivering to me in bed), all the laundry getting done and the house cleaned.

Things that did go right - buying big comfy fleece shirts (the milk drys fast in these) in cute colors from lands end, getting the eyebrows and hair done asap while bean was watched by husband and the 10 best women at his office, the pre birth pedicure, super comfy matress and the wonderful pink wooby blankie my best friend got us girls to cuddle in. TIVO is also good for the 4 am feeding times. Another goody would have been installing the baby seat for me, and someone installing all the babyproofing stuff would let me know ya cared! (Practical = love in my book)

I finally did go out and by new lingerie last week to celebrate my daughter's birthday and my mommy day.

I whole heartedly agree with all the other mom's that have posted. Lingerie?!? Is this guy looking for a can of whoopAss to be thrown his way? My nursing size still astounds me; being a small girl to start and (unfortunately)a smaller girl at the end of it all, fancy schmancy lingere is a waste of money at this stage of the game. Time is the best gift you can give your lady. Time to shower, or take a nice long bath. Or, maybe, hire a cleaning lady for the next month to take that burden off of her. Jewelry is a nice thought...but the thought shouldn't be a quick one. Let her know that you really THOUGHT about it/her/your new bundle of love, ya dig?

You guys just aren't paying enough attention to the Jewelry/ Lingerie Industrial Complex's mind control. I can see they are going to have to really put the screws to you people this year with a new round of guilt-inducing advertising.

That being said, the Little Woman has threatened me with bodily harm if I ever come home with lingerie for her. Ever.

As for jewelry, I have noticed that here in the South, you see some mind-boggling jewelry on some Moms. Not sure if it is "thanks for the heir" stuff, or what. I have noticed a much more pronounced prediliction for wearing large rocks down here, as opposed to NYC (where I grew up) where it seemed like regular folks were a little more circumspect about the flaunting of their bling. Maybe that means they get more lingerie.

thanks everyone. really good advice. in my defence, DW (is that allowed to be used by me non-sardonically?) suggested the nursing bras - elle mcpherson - I was just seeing if there was any other brand out there that you might recommend (you have and i'll, um, go surf some lingerie sites) and then thought about soliciting other gifts.

You've all been very helpful. But I promise I wouldn't be so insane as to suggest a size 8 string and quarter cup AP set off the cuff. Finally, to weigh in on the push jewelery thing, my mum gave DW an eternity ring which had been given to her when I was born by her mother, who was in turn given it by her husband. We're in the UK, and I've never heard of the girlfriend's guide, until now.

Anyway, I'll share what the final outcome is. Cheers, "J"

The less useful it is the more they will like it. Just the opposite for us men, the more useful it is, ie a tool, the more we like it.

I have an e-boutique for beautiful nursing lingerie - Condessa. Moms and dads love our lingerie. We have 8 colors and matching underpants in 4 styles. And yes, it is tricky to buy lingerie for someone, especially if they're nursing. However, I have gift certificates. So she can get what she wants, when she wants it, in her size, and it won't feel like you came home carrying lingerie with a purpose. Take a look.

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