Without doubt, Christmas is my favourite time of year. To make things even more special, this year will be my son’s first Christmas. With both the birth of my son and Newlife IVF in 2019, it’s been a pretty hectic year on all fronts for my family. I’ll be sure to give my wife and two girls something a little extra special this year to thank them for all their love and support during these busy times.
It’s probably no surprise to you that as an obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist, I get to meet a lot of different women from every stage of life. I have the privilege of watching these women deal with a range of challenges unique to women’s health, infertility and motherhood. Observing how they get on with life while managing their way through and over these hurdles is what inspired me to put the following list of gift ideas together.
I’ve tried to only recommend products that you can source locally, that are sustainable and crap-free. And yes, I admit it, a few good women may have helped me with some (or all!) of these ideas.
For first-time mums
Many a patient has told me that when you spend your days changing nappies and dodging drool, the simple things in life (like taking a shower) can become a real luxury. For these women, I reckon that an amazing hand cream is the go. My sources tell me that the Empire Australia range is a beautiful brand, designed and produced right here in Melbourne.
I also have it on good authority that new mums sometimes need a hand to swap out their professional workwear for more casual wear. If the woman you are buying for needs some help turning her wardrobe from ‘office chic’ to ‘mumsy chic’, my suggestion is a pair of Bared’s ‘Weaver’ sneakers. A little birdie tells me that paired with some jeans and a long sleeve tee, these minimalist sneakers will do the trick in dressing down any old work blazer. And all men know that shoes are the way to a woman’s heart, right? You can find these particular beauties in-store (CBD or Armadale) or online.
For mums who have just popped out Baby #2 or 3 or 4 …
There’s busy, then there’s super-busy. I’m thinking that what these mums really need is an extra pair of hands. I’m not a plastic surgeon, so the next best thing is to help them be hands-free, which is where this Hoopla crossbody box bag comes in (did you like how that just rolled off my tongue?). I’m told that this bag is a busy mum’s perfect companion because it’s small enough to wear while playing at the park, doing the shopping, etc., but also big enough to hold all the essentials (phone, purse, lip balm, sultanas, baby wipes, tissues, random Thomas train …). I’m also told that they come in a great range of colours! You can find them at Coconut Home & Co, a boutique retail store based in Surrey Hills, Melbourne (visit them in store or order online).
For mums-to-be, we’re loving this modern take on a baby memory book from Peachly, a husband and wife duo based on the Sunshine Coast. Billed as ‘the baby book you’ll actually complete’, it’s easy to fill out and is also designed to suit every type of family, so it’s LGBTQ and adoptive-family friendly. For example, instead of saying ‘Mummy and Daddy’s reactions to seeing you for the first time’, the book says: ‘Our reactions to seeing you for the first time’. And if memory books aren’t your thing, Peachly also has a great range of bamboo swaddles – all original designs, so you can be sure your present won’t be a double-up!
For women trying to conceive
Christmas can be an awkward time of year for women trying to get pregnant, especially if they are undergoing fertility treatment. You’ll need to use your judgment to decide what type of gift will be most appreciated.
Women dealing with infertility are often meticulously tracking dates, so a beautifully designed yearly diary or planner can make a nice gift without screaming ‘I know you’re trying to get pregnant’. Try these designs from Bespoke Press.
If your friend is undergoing IVF and is open with you about their experiences, you may like to go for a gift that helps them to be mindful rather than mind-full throughout their IVF journey, like a set of affirmation cards. Robyn Birkin, a Perth-based mum who hosts the award-winning Fertility Warriors podcast (inspired by her own fertility journey), gives some great suggestions for these and other gift ideas here.
Alternatively, I think these watercolour art prints of IVF embryos are amazing and they can be custom designed. While these prints are not Australian made, they are created by a fellow IVF mum, Pamela Gallegos, who lives in Florida.
For working mums
All kudos to these mums who are just trying to fit it all in. There are a few ways you can go here:
- Help them fit more in to their day, e.g. buy them a subscription for Les Mills On-Demand so they can stream video work-outs at-home anytime. And because it’s Les Mills, it has a huge variety of programs (e.g. HIITs, Cardio, Core, BARRE, BODYPUMP, Yoga, Body Balance) so they can choose the work-out style they enjoy most. Classes also come in all kinds of formats so if they only have 15 minutes spare, they’ve still got time to squeeze in one of the super-quick short programs.
- Give them some down time, e.g. tee them up for a massage or facial. Just make sure you choose somewhere local, so they can get there easily.
- Make the everyday a little less ho-hum, e.g. buy her a crazy cool workbag (like this Melbourne tote from Australian brand bellroy) that makes her feel ‘put together’ even as she struggles to clean baby food off her blouse while getting a pram in the door of an already-full train during rush-hour as her child cries because Bluey the soft toy has just fallen into the clutches of a scary-looking … you get the picture.
For single women and same-sex lesbian couples wanting to have children of their own
What these women want most in the world is donor sperm to help them start or build their own family. Victorian legislation means that single women and same-sex couples can now legally access assisted conception techniques like intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and IVF to do so. However, a shortage of donor sperm means that these women often have a very short list of donors to choose from. This can present a real problem if they are looking for a specific nationality or culture to align with their own background. In many cases, these women have to import sperm from an international sperm bank, which can be a much more expensive process.
So, the best Christmas gift you can give these women is a well-stocked local sperm bank that gives them lots of home-grown, Victorian men to choose from. If you know a man who would make a great donor, ask him to consider giving the gift of life this Christmas. Our sperm collection centre in Box Hill makes donating a really simple and seamless process. For all the deets, get your favourite male specimen to check out the Newlife IVF website.
For mums who have ‘lost their mojo’
There is only one way to go here and that’s to buy something fun, frivolous and carefree. My little birdie tells me that a cracker pick-me-up is a bright and cheerful nail polish – like Essie’s ‘play date‘, which judging by its name, aims to put the fun back into play dates! Or if the woman in your life is a lover of all things royal, try Essie’s ‘ballet slippers’ instead, which is the nail colour Meghan Markle supposedly wore on her wedding day (dropping that fun fact is also sure to earn you some extra Brownie points!).
For breastfeeding mums
These mums are living in an alternate universe right now: day becomes night, night becomes day, then all their days and nights seem to meld into one. What I think these women would really appreciate is some super-comfy, super-groovy lounge wear that takes them from day to night to day, and back again. You know, an outfit they can sleep in but, if necessary, also do the school run in. For an ethical, sustainable, organic brand with a great range, try Organic Crew available online or from their store in Malvern.
For every other woman on your list
Okay, so for all the other women in your life, here are a few other suggestions that might tickle your fancy (and theirs):
- Mrs Darcy handcrafted soy candles (the chic crystal collection is a guaranteed winner for husbands looking to impress their wives)
- LyndaIT fine bone china teacup and saucer (my pick for the mum-in-law). What’s more, if you choose this one, $10 will be donated to the Arterie program at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
- Mimco pencil case with monogrammed initials (a good one for the receptionist).
Right, now that we’ve got the Christmas shopping sorted, I’d say it’s time for a refreshing mojito mocktail – it’s low-carb and alcohol free, so suitable for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. Cheers!
Disclaimer: I fully admit that I had an extreme amount of help in putting this article together. As the old adage goes, a woman knows what a woman wants – and I’m not one to argue with that. That said, I hope you enjoyed it!