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Gifts for baby are often top of mind for those with a pregnant person on their gift list, but it can also be nice to gift a mom-to-be something for her own comfort and well-being. To find something that will bring the pregnant person on your list a bit of calm and joy right now, we asked a handful of pregnant (or recently pregnant) people — plus several Strategist staffers, including yours truly — about the gifts they would actually like to receive and items they already swear by. Whether she’s struggling with morning sickness or restless legs syndrome, craving marshmallows or looking for maternity clothing that fits her body and personal style, we’ve rounded up lots of comfortable, stress-reducing gifts — from an electric massager that’s better than a masseuse to a plant-based belly oil made by a Black-owned postpartum-care brand. We’ve noted, as much as possible, that as of the date of publication, most things should arrive in time for Christmas, some via expedited shipping. Remember, you can always give a gift card if you’d rather not cut it too close.
For more gift ideas for everyone on your list, be sure to check out the Strategist’s main holiday-gift-guide hub here.
Self care gifts
A common side effect of pregnancy is morning sickness, which can happen at any time of day. When Hill House Home founder and CEO Nell Diamond was pregnant with twins, she struggled with a more severe form of nausea during pregnancy called hyperemesis and said her only remedy was drinking extremely cold water. For that reason, her “real love” during that time was the biggest possible Yeti tumbler, which “stays ice-cold over a 12-hour pregnancy sleep. It’s better than a Birkin bag,” she told us at the time. Rachelle Mallik, a registered dietician who specializes in reproductive nutrition, also told us that carrying around a Yeti filled with cold water — or ginger tea, which is also known to combat morning sickness — can help pregnant people “stay hydrated and can quell some of that nausea.” As Diamond pointed out, staying hydrated is important for those who choose to breastfeed after birth, so the Yeti is helpful to have on hand postpartum, too.
Some pregnant people experience restless legs syndrome, which often occurs at night and makes it hard to sleep. Sadie Stein, a writer and Strategist contributor, dealt with this when she was pregnant with her son, Hal, and found that “giving my legs a vigorous brush with a stiff-bristle body brush was the only thing that alleviated the feeling. So if someone is having trouble with that, I’ll give them a brush and a nice dry oil for their body. That feels good no matter what.” Nutritionist and mother Daphne Javitch uses this Japanese palm-fiber brush, explaining that it can feel cleansing and healing because it “increases circulation.”
Carpal tunnel — sometimes called mommy thumb during pregnancy — is another condition that some pregnant people experience. At the guidance of her acupuncturist, Strategist contributor Fiorella Valdesolo found that this oddly shaped massager was the only thing that tempered her hand and forearm pain — and postpartum, she has continued to use it to reduce shoulder tension and as a teething toy for her baby.
Editor’s note: This massager should arrive in time for Christmas if you select expedited shipping.
A gift card from the Yinova Center, an acupuncture and Chinese-medicine practice based in New York, tops the wish list of Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo, who is six months pregnant. “I started going to Yinova on a weekly basis for fertility-focused acupuncture, and now that I am pregnant, I go for help with anxiety and all the little aches and pains I have been getting as my body changes,” she says. While she hasn’t had a massage there yet, she’s ready to book one soon, as she’s experiencing an achy back and shoulders. “It is a calm oasis that I look forward to every week,” she adds.
Since pregnant people are constantly experiencing changes, developer Caláh Jones has found it grounding to keep things on hand that “make me feel safe and comfortable.” Bath products that smell like eucalyptus, a scent she has loved since childhood, bring her some calm (and some other scents, like lavender, are even known to alleviate stress). Strategist contributor Rio Viera-Newton says this eucalyptus-scented body wash is beautifully packaged and doesn’t irritate her sensitive skin.
Editor’s note: This body wash should arrive in time for Christmas if you order from Sephora.
“During pregnancy, all the clichés of womanhood are poured on you at once, so I definitely felt that I was meant to escape stretch marks,” says Diamond, who went to great lengths to avoid stretch marks during her first pregnancy but still got them, which, as she puts it, “is totally normal. It’s literally just your body expanding!” During her pregnancy with the twins, Diamond focused on products related to relaxation, not stretch-mark prevention, and she specifically liked the therapeutic, organic belly oil from Ebi, a Black-owned business focused on postpartum care. “Their belly oil is really good for your skin and is superluxurious. I love the ritual of putting it on every night,” she says. “It’s a great way to wind down.”
Editor’s note: This body oil should arrive in time for Christmas if you select expedited shipping from Bluemercury.
For something that’s cheaper by the ounce, consider Everyday Oil’s Mainstay blend, a favorite of Strategist senior editor Winnie Yang, who’s expecting in March. (It’s also beloved by actress Kate Berlant and cook Molly Baz.) Yang has been using it on her belly since the first trimester. “I find the woody, herbaceous scent soothing and relaxing, and I think it might help with sleep,” she says. “I rub it on as the very last thing I do before I turn in. It absorbs well and moisturizes well, but mostly I like the texture, which is not light, and the fragrance.”
Editor’s note: While the Mainstay body oil should arrive in time for Christmas using standard shipping, select expedited shipping if you want to be extra safe.
Between flu season and the pandemic, a couple of women we spoke to told us that keeping things clean is a big priority for them right now. “Making sure my home is a wonderful and clean space is important for making me feel that things are more okay,” explains Jones, who has found herself using more natural, plant-based cleaners during her pregnancy in order to better understand “what I’m putting on my skin and what I’m using around the house.” We’ve rounded up a couple dozen baby-friendly cleaning products, including this vegan, biodegradable multipurpose cleaner from Dr. Bronner’s, which is good for washing everything from dishes to laundry. (When she was pregnant, Elizabeth Graves, editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living, used this soap on her sensitive skin and says it’s now a mainstay for her whole family.)
Both Jones and Taiwo Odusanya, a life-science-solution architect, have had backaches during their pregnancies and say that massages have alleviated some pain and helped them relax. This Strategist-favorite, electric back and neck massager is an at-home alternative that some reviewers say is even better than a professional massage.
Pregnancy cravings can run the gamut from shaved ice to spicy foods (and everything in between). As Jones puts it, having an assortment of snacks to satisfy your current urge “is really nice because it changes so often and is really the most random things, like marshmallows!” Bokksu is a Japanese-snack-subscription company that ships between 20 to 24 snacks, candies, and tea pairings directly from Japan, so you can gift the pregnant people on your list a snack for each of their sweet and salty whims. Every box comes with a little magazine that details each item’s origin, flavors, and potential common allergens, so they’ll know exactly what they’re biting into. Single boxes start at $60, or you can get them a three-, six-, or 12-month subscription.
Editor’s note: Each box ships from Japan a week after your initial order, and while the first will not arrive in time for Christmas, you can let the recipient know that it’s on the way (and that they’ll get a new box each month depending on the length of your gift subscription).
Both Diamond and Stein say an eye mask is a nice gift for pregnant people who need more sleep, especially “to bring to the hospital, because it’s very bright and hard to sleep between the machines and the roommates,” explains Stein. During each of her deliveries, Diamond brought a silk pillowcase and eye mask to the hospital for added comfort, and this travel set, from Strategist-favorite- and dermatologist-recommended- brand Slip, comes with a mini pillow, pillow case, and sleep mask.
Editor’s note: This item should arrive before Christmas from both retailers if you select the expedited-shipping option.
A body pillow to support sleeping on your side is another item that will help a pregnant person get a more comfortable night’s sleep. Yang recently purchased this down-alternative one for herself from Parachute (along with a linen pillowcase) after striking out with other pillows she’d tried during previous pregnancies. “This pillow is exactly what I had hoped for: soft, lofty, airy, and cooling when I feel overly warm; warm and comforting when I feel a little cold; and easy to maneuver into place,” she wrote. The pillowcase (sold separately), which is made from a thick, garment-washed linen and is available in five sophisticated colors, is a nice touch that elevates the experience of having to sleep with an oversize pillow. “I don’t hate how it looks on the bed during the day, either,” added Yang.
Editor’s note: The pillow insert is out of stock until January 15, but the pillow cover should arrive before Christmas if you act now.
Three of the pregnant people we spoke to said that comfortable maternity leggings are among their favorite pieces of maternity clothing. “A lot of maternity stuff is so different from my normal clothing, and you want to look pregnant but you still want to wear things that are your style,” explains Jones, who loves activewear and appreciates the “easy to throw on” bottoms from Girlfriend Collective’s new maternity line — which includes leggings, bras, and a pair of bike shorts. Stein likes the comfortable maternity leggings from Spanx, and Odusanya says Blanqi’s maternity leggings are “a godsend, they’re so comfortable.”
Editor’s note: This item ships via standard shipping and may not arrive in time for Christmas.
Here’s a shirt they’ll wear throughout pregnancy — and once the baby is earthside, too. It’s recommended by Yang, who was looking for an alternative to formfitting tops with ruching on the sides. This roomy, boxy tee has a double layer in the front that hides a vertical slit on the lower layer that provide easy access for breastfeeding. “I have two of these and one of the oversize version that I wear now,” she says. “They are now the shirts I reach for first and wear most often and plan to wear them for nursing.” She adds that the shirt, made of soft cotton jersey, is really great quality. “I’ve always heard good things about Boob, but could never rationalize spending more for clothing I wouldn’t be wearing very long. But after being so annoyed and dissatisfied with my maternity clothes previously, I decided to treat myself.”
Editor’s note: This shirt ships from Europe and may not arrive in time for Christmas.
For something slightly more formal, consider this flowy button-up from Storq that Strategist writer Lauren Ro wore for both pregnancies (and still does). Made of the softest, wrinkle-free, woven modal-blend fabric, it can go from shirt to cover-up and night to day, pairing equally well with leggings or a skirt. For more of her favorite (actually cute) maternity picks, head here.
Editor’s note: This shirt ships via standard shipping and may not arrive in time for Christmas.
Several women we spoke to told us they have been living in dresses throughout their pregnancies. Jones says she has been wearing loose ones to avoid waistbands and buttons — and because it’s easier to pee in a dress, she says, “and you have to pee so much when you’re pregnant!” For a stretchy, breathable dress that maintains her pre-pregnancy style, Christine Chang, co-founder of Glow Recipe, told us she likes the options from Everlane’s Japanese GoWeave line.
Editor’s note: Select express shipping to make sure this arrives in time for Christmas.
According to the women we spoke with, jumpsuits are another popular piece of maternity wear. Strategist contributor Jenny Friedler recommends this aptly named Infinite Stretch Pleated Jumpsuit from maternity brand Nothing Fits But. She says this “pleasantly amorphous” jumpsuit is “the most comfortable thing I own,” and it happens to be an affordable dupe of Issey Miyake’s cool person–approved Pleats Please line.
Editor’s note: This jumpsuit, which ships via DHL international shipping, may not arrive before Christmas.
If the pregnant person on your list would rather wear something formfitting, Odusanya likes the “really thick but stretchy” material of this Jlux jumpsuit. “It’s not an ugly maternity item, and it’s not as expensive as the Hatch jumpsuits, but it can still grow with your belly.”
Editor’s note: Select express shipping to make sure this arrives before for Christmas.
Both Odusanya and Jones say journaling was an important part of their pregnancy self-care routine. “I’m a Black woman, and being pregnant on top of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement has been a lot. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, I’ve found it really helpful to just write down my manifestations. It puts me in a more positive mindset,” explains Odusanya. If you’re looking to give the pregnant person on your list a journal, we tested 100, and this softcover option from Public Supply is our favorite (plus, it looks nice enough to gift without screaming “maternity,” too).
When Ro was pregnant with her first kid, a friend sent her a care package that included ginger chews, anti-nausea pressure bands, and this cheeky activity book that celebrates the absurdity of pregnancy with quizzes, fill-in-the-blanks, and journaling prompts. Instead of peddling the usual hyperpositive, “mama”-centric musings on what it’s like to have a bun in the oven, this pop-culture-reference-filled book lets you laugh at all the unpleasant things about growing a human inside of you, like the constipation, bloating, and epic mood swings that come with it.
Here’s a fun gift that Corsillo recommends for capturing memories during pregnancy. “I want to document this period of time, but I also feel a little self-conscious in photos, so these disposable cameras make it easier to record certain moments or bump evolution without the immediate self-judgment that comes with hormonal shifts,” she says. “Plus, I always think film photos are more flattering.”
Editor’s note: This item should arrive before Christmas from both retailers.
Odusanya also appreciated that one of her friends, the jewelry maker behind Peace of My, gifted her “a necklace with my initial on it, and once we figure out the baby’s name, she’ll add another initial to it. It felt like a nice intention toward me and our child,” she says. We’ve pointed out that Etsy is a good place to shop for affordable but nice-looking initial necklaces, or you can get this letter charm from Mejuri to add to any existing bracelet or necklace chain.
Editor’s note: This ships via free express shipping and should arrive before Christmas.
“I think it’s impossible to ignore the staggering maternal mortality rates for Black women in America, even right in our own backyard in New York City, so I’ve made a particular effort to seek out Black-owned businesses that are supporting mothers during this time and also Black-owned nonprofits,” says Diamond, who found it particularly meaningful when, after hearing about her pregnancy, a friend donated in her name to the Black Mamas Matter Alliance — an organization working to advance Black maternal health before, during, and after pregnancy.
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