My best friend made a terrible mistake last week.
You see, her daughter is 2 months old . . . actually, 9 weeks and 2 days, but who’s counting. Little Baby A and her mama are really enjoying life these days. They use cloth diapers and nursing pads, breastfeed like pros, enjoy tummy time, walk around the house together, and are generally thriving in this wonderful, newborn stage.
And in spite of all this sweet wonderfulness, let us not forget that while Baby A is discovering the world around her, mama is discovering all the changes that come with life post-baby. And my best friend – let’s call her Rose – made a classic newbie mistake in her first time experiencing postpartum life.
She went swimsuit shopping.
Now let me remind you – Rose is working with a body that literally pushed 8 pounds of human being out just 2 months ago. Baby A spent close to forty weeks swimming around and growing in Rose . . . and stretching out every last little space of Rose’s tiny tummy so she could have some elbow room. Rude. And then, it’s just starting to warm up and the sun has starting shining more. Our sisters (still in college) are posting about their plans for spring break, and all the ads in the newspapers are starting to show the newest styles of swimwear for the season. Really, you can’t not start thinking about a new suit for summer.
So she went. And while the idea of shopping for a new swimsuit seems appealing and exciting and a great-way-to-welcome-spring, the reality of shopping for a new swimsuit is never fun. We’ve all been there – taking one suit after another into the dressing room, only to put it on and be horrified at what we see. I personally have found rolls of fat I didn’t even know existed, tan lines in places they shouldn’t be, and any number of extra hairs poking out from all over while standing in front of those dreaded dressing room mirrors. And Rose. . . this sweet new mama with a beautiful new baby . . . called me in tears. “I didn’t realize my body had changed so much,” she sobbed, as she tried to talk on the phone, soothe the baby, and rehang all the rejected swimsuits.
After reminding her how great she looked, helping her regain some confidence, and mutually bashing the swimsuit industry together, I hung up the phone and hopped on my computer to save the day. Because really – there has to be a swimsuit out there that is specifically designed to help with postpartum “problem areas”, right?
Wrong. Maternity swimsuits exist, but they are way too big and stretchy in the belly for postpartum (plus, the goal is to NOT look like you’re still pregnant). And most of the “nursing bra” style suits have body styles that look like Grandma. Grandmas don’t breastfeed, so I have no idea who is in control of that design, but they are doing it all wrong.
We decided to tackle this problem together, and come up with some RIGHT ways to shop for postpartum swimsuits. The reality is, your body does change. And rather than end up sobbing in a dressing room about it, you should be able to feel empowered and beautiful and strong about the changes – you made a baby with that body! Now let’s talk about how to dress it in a way that flatters you and embraces those changes.
First, get online and figure out what style elements you love about swimsuits. Are you a fan of ruffles? Do you like the cut-out style or the crochet look? What are you favorite colors and what colors compliment your skin? Gather inspiration so you can help narrow down your options when you head out shopping. What you love matters just as much as what looks good on you!
Next, find a girl-friend and start trying things on! Take someone who will be honest with their opinions, and loving about how they deliver them. Use the following tips to guide you:
- While the tankini style is great for covering up, the shape you choose is essential! Many style flare out at the bottom, creating a maternity look (not what we are going for!). Others might be too fitted, and show every little lump and bump. What worked best for us? High-waisted, control bikini bottoms with a ruched-side top. The high-waist hides under the tankini, while the ruching on the sides draws the eyes away from the middle of your tummy. Choose a strap style that flatters your body-type. For broad-shoulders, choose tank-top style straps. Narrow shoulders and smaller bust, go with the halter.
Kohl’s, Halterkini Top
- Beware of the blouson top style, like this one from Land’s End. It can be great for hiding your tummy, but if it’s not flow-y enough, I think it makes you end up looking chubbier than you are!
- Another great tip for both tankinis and one-piece suits is color-blocking. This is a common principle used in fashion (and it’s even in style right now!). . . choose a dark color bottom and light color top. Creating a distinct line across the narrowest part of your waist draws attention there, while the dark color on bottom minimizes the “postpartum pouch”.
- Embrace the deep-V neck. If you are choose a one-piece, try finding something that plunges at the neckline. This style on top distracts from the tummy area, and draws the eye in a line up to the face!
- Avoid strapless – again, this all depends on your own body shape, but strapless suits tend to make everything scrunched up in the middle, which makes your waistline look short and stout. Plus, if your bust has increased a lot with breastfeeding, strapless normally doesn’t provide a lot of support!
- Invest in a great coverup. Here are some of my favorite styles:
Target, coverup crochet dress
Kohl’s, Coverup Top
- Patterns are your friend. You don’t have to only wear black! So many of the “mom-styles”, with better coverage and skirts are in black. Sometimes just choosing a pattern or bright color can help you feel better about how you look! So if you do go with a skirt-style, choose a pattern you love.
You can do it. Just like Rose, you are beautiful postpartum. Use these tips to rock a swimsuit this summer and don’t you dare stay inside. You are beautiful!
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