Postpartum Swimwear: 10 Tips to Hide the Pooch

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This is an updated version of Shana’s postpartum swimwear post originally published in 2011.

Looking for flattering postpartum swimwear is not easy at all. I think I had never been more afraid of trying swimsuits on. I don’t know why. Even after almost 4 years of being a mom I still have the image of my pre-kids body in my head and when I see a cute bathing suit I picture it in that body and not in my actual postpartum body. So it’s not a surprise that I get discouraged when I try one on and I immediately want to take it off, especially if said swimsuit is a bikini.

I do need to say that I LOVE MY BODY AND MY KIDS. If someone had come to me and told me my skin would stretch to a point where I would think it was going to tear any second. That I wouldn’t be able to count my stretch marks. That my bellybutton would be deformed and that getting dressed would change forever I would do it again. But oh God, that doesn’t take away how traumatic it is.

I’ve been giving sneak peaks of my postpartum stomach here and there since I started blogging but have never actually done it. So I think I’ll just bare it all here for you and start with that. Postpartum pooches come in all sizes and shapes. This is mine: (I wasn’t brave enough to show the side view)

A super soft stomach, extra skin , a diastasis recti of 2-3 fingers and a not so pretty bellybutton. Things that make it hard for me to wear just any bathing suit. I haven’t worn a bikini since I had my first except for pregnancy! I do love big bellies in a bikini!

Now that my belly finally came out let’s dive in to all the swimsuits I tried following Shana’s very subjective tips plus some I discovered along the way.

1. Tankinis are not your friend

Nop, they are not. They are great to cover stretch marks if you want to cover them. But if I didn’t have all that extra skin and weird bellybutton, I would wear a bikini despite the stretch marks. I didn’t even want to try it on because I knew I wouldn’t have any control on my pooch and there are better options.

Top – River Island Clip Front Tankini (size 6)

Bottoms –  River Island tie side (size 4) I sized down because the sides are adjustable.

2. Control swimwear

This is definitely some of the best postpartum swimwear out there when it includes some ruching. Ruching helps to hide all that’s going on in your belly and make it pretty.

shaper postpartum swimwear

Asos Sculpt me Control Gathered waist (size US 6) This is a retro one. Hard to get in it, but it molded my pooch perfectly and I felt very supported not only in my pooch but also my boobs. The best? the gathering on top. You’ll get some “you don’t look like you have kids” comments. It’s tight, but once you have it in it feels great.

3. Try an interesting ruching

ruch postpartum swimwear

Gottex Lattice V-neck (size 6) This one is so pretty! It has soft cups (hides nipple weird nursing shape) and the criss-cross ruch gives the illusion of a smaller waist. Great bum coverage too. Comes in black and pink. This one is the same but with thicker straps.

3. Blouson type one pieces may be your best friend

I had never seen this style and I found it to be very flattering. Boobs are controlled and the blouson helps conceal the pooch. If you ask me what the best swimsuit for postpartum bodies is I would say this one.

blouson swimsuit - postpartum swimwear

Gottex lattice blouson one piece (size 6) I seriously loved this one, and if it weren’t for the full coverage in the bum I would have kept it. I like it a little cheeky.

4. High- waisted bikini bottoms?

Finding a good pair is the hardest thing. I’ve tried on more than ten bottoms and all have gone back. I had all my hopes on this Hapari tummy tuck bottom

But no, I felt no control whatsoever and with my bellybutton exposed like this I’m surprised I left it on enough for a pic. They are definitely not as high-rise as I need and run big too. I’m wearing a S

high waist bikini bottoms - postpartum swimwear

Ann summers gingham bikini top (size 34B) I usually wear 34 C but this one worked perfectly. I loved it. It kept my girls in place and made them look less saggy. The strap is removable which is great for tanning. Large breasted? Try this fuller bust option

Ann Summers High waist bikini bottom – (size 6) A lot better! I actually like how it all looks from the front and side,  I think the side panels are key to visually slim the pooch.The exact pair I’m wearing is sold out but the one I linked to is identical and it doesn’t have the side seam. The side panels and back are one entire piece which makes look a lot better. I’m ordering right now and promise to keep you posted.

5. Distract with prints

This is another of my favorite tips. Prints! They make it more fun and colorful. Sometimes we tend to go with solid colors, especially black to cover our bodies, but a I think a print camouflages even more. Maybe add a very sexy, interesting back?

Mink Pink Shady fronds one piece (size S) – That back is so beautiful. The top part is a little plungy but not a lot. I love the wide straps as I think they offer a little more coverage (compared to the one above) and support.

6. Take the plunge

Bringing the attention to another part of your body is genius and it was a tip and old reader shared with us. But it has to be the right plunge (not like the one above). Tell me if I’m wrong but after nursing my first for 2 1/2 and the baby is going strong 6 months my boobs are great when full but not so nice when not.  I feel like this time my skin is more stretched and my breasts need something to keep them in place.

Lira Floral & Mesh Panel Plunge Swimsuit (size S) This is a gorgeous suit. The print and the mesh do a great job at giving the illusion of a smaller waist. However I didn’t feel too comfortable with how deep and wide the v-neck was. I think I could have pull it off my first postpartum time. 

I just found this one which is part of the  Nordstrom Anniversary sale! It has the side panels and a more supportive plunge. Also this one by J crew with a better plunge and..some waist ruching!!!

7.  A more covered plunge with bikini-looking back

I know, this plunge is deep but the straps are wider which makes it more postpartum friendly. The bikini-looking back is the style I’ve relied on since my first baby and I still love it. I get my pooch covered without a full body coverage swimsuit.

South Beach Plunge tie back (size 4) I tried the 6 but it felt too loose in the top. I immediately took this one to the beach and loved it until I nurse my baby on one side and then I looked so lopsided. Still like it though. Maybe one with more cleavage coverage like this gorgeous one!

La blanca Halter one piece – The back is gorgeous and how about the top? Easy to nurse in while still allowing a high neck look.

8. Try something that you think it won’t work…it might not, but what if it does?

When I mentioned I saw a great bathing suit great for my pre kids body but that I got so horribly discouraged when I tried it on I was talking about this one.

Mink Pink Shady Fronds bikini top (size s)

Mink Pink Shady fronds bikini bottom (size s) – I had some hopes for this one. Loved the print and wanted to see if the high-waisted/cutout feature would help me. I almost cried….and it was one of the first ones I tried so from this one on I was just noticing all the wrong things about my body and all the swimsuits. I know I’m like laughing in most pics but that was my “what the heck am I doing?” laugh.

But this one did!

Mink Pink Floral Mesh swimsuit  (size S) –  So this one, I thought it wouldn’t work but it does. It doesn’t have control but the mix of fabric/mesh and the seams’ locations do a great job at camouflaging my pooch and accentuating a waist. It might be strapless but has cups. It’s not tight on my butt and even though it’s not full bum coverage covers what I need. When I tried this one on, I felt it was meant for me and my lovely pooch. Try this one if you want more breast support. It has the mesh/fabric mix but has cups and a good plunge.

9. Try panels, inserts and seams in the pooch area

The swimsuit above that did work brought me to the conclusion of looking for distracting factors in the pooch area beyond prints and ruching. That one had the mix of mesh with fabric with the seams in the perfect angles to visually slim my pooch and it actually controlled it more with the various seams. postpartum swimwearASOS Spaced Floral Cupped Cut Out Mesh Swimsuit (34C) A really nice suit overall. The cups are great to keep my boobs in place but I felt the bra part didn’t feel very molded to my body. It was as if the bra was sticking out. Don’t know how to explain. I loved the back, the print and the mesh inserts.

10. Just be true to yourself and wear what you like

Bikinis are not in my radar anymore, not because I feel I cannot show my pooch but because I don’t feel comfortable or myself. That’s what’s important, feeling true to yourself and if you feel that way wearing a bikini and flaunting the precious marks of bringing life into this world, go and rock it! You deserve it.

Shop more postpartum swimwear


Chao, chao
Julieta 

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About Author

After my oldest was born, I found myself wearing my old tank tops and yoga pants everyday. I had a ton of unworn clothes in the back of my closet and had a little voice in my head saying "why look nice if you're going to be home nursing a baby around the clock?" Now, after change of mindset, I apply my fashion design studies to my everyday craziness and document the things I try here on The Mom Edit and my own blog The Unbosom.  If you can't find me in the bathroom hiding from my kids, I'll be on Facebook or Instagram @theunbosom begging for bedtime!

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54 Comments

  1. I’ve got nothing about swimsuits, but you must google Steph Rothstein. She’s an elite runner who had two kids and 4 fingers diastasis!! She finally found a doctor who helped her with some simple core (not planks etc–that makes it worse) exercises that helped close the space. Mine was 2-3 and is almost gone.

    • Thank you! I will look it up. So far I’ve been wearing a postpartum girdle for most of the time (hard in summer time) and doing some of the Tupler Technique exercises. It’s definitely gotten better.

      • Ahh thanks for being vulnerable! After 3 kids and being 4 months postpartum right now, I have a 4-5 finger diastasis. It’s so great to hear about someone else wearing a postpartum girdle (I’ve been bad about wearing mine) and doing the exercises. You look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing these great swimsuit options!

      • I had a smaller diastasis, but I also wore a postpartum binder for several months and then started doing the Lindsay Brin Moms into Fitness postpartum workout DVD. It is specifically designed for people with diastasis and works to correct it. I really liked it and definitely saw noticeable results. This is not to say there is ANYTHING wrong with your postpartum body….I just know I felt better when I knew I was actively working to correct my separation. Thanks for your post!

  2. Juliette- You are amazing!! And quite possibly my new fav TME gal!!!! From all of us moms- thanks for the belly shot!!! Rock on!! PS- love the suits, especially the gingham print two piece and the black cutout one piece. 🙂

    • Isn’t she the best???? We’re lucky to have her. I literally stood up and applauded (all alone, at my desk, haha) when I saw the belly shot. YES to REAL.

    • Thank you Rebecca! I figured if I didn’t do it here, where else? This is a great mom community and I kind of feel lighter with my belly out for the world to see. PS- I’m obsessed with the gingham and didn’t stop until I found the right bottoms! Wore it twice already!

  3. I get where you’re coming from, and think those suits look great on you! One thing about ruching – it looks great when dry but sags once wet. As a swimmer, I love athletic one pieces but probably my favorite is a bikini with rashguard.

    • I had (back in the day) the same problem with the blouson swimsuits. They look AMAZING when dry, but once wet….geez.

    • Thank you…and you are right about the sagging. I haven’t tried the rash guard yet, but I’m dying too. This summer I was in the mission to feel a little better about my pooch.

      • I love bikinis with a rashguard and got the idea a handful of years back when Shana talked about her prego friend borrowing Mike’s rashguard during a visit! I love that I can find a supportive bikini top that acts as a bra, and then a sporty rashguard. The whole look is best with string or smaller style bottoms. At first, I was the only mom wearing one and now I notice others. I have a long sleeve one in black from Old Navy, that’s very fitted and it’s very good, but purchased an amazing one from Athleta, the scrunch rashguard. And it’s sleeveless! Here it is: http://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=1&pid=489084002
        I wear mine to show a sliver of skin, but can be worn long. If you’re hot in the rashguard, get it wet! I love how it looks sporty, yet I’m wearing a bikini and I wear black rashguards, but choose fun prints/colors for my bikini separates. Thanks for being real, Julieta! I love this blog!

  4. Great post Juliette! I am a bikini die hard and your post actually made me want to try out some one pieces. So many great picks.

    • I was too!!! but you know…haha. There’s definitely so many great one pieces nowadays. They make it a little easier and fun for us mamas

  5. This is such a classic TME article. It’s why I found this site in the first place and kept coming back for new and archived posts. Thanks for your research and honesty, Julieta!

    • It is, right? When Shana told me she wanted to do a new version of it, I jumped on it even though I knew I would have to get vulnerable. Thank you!

  6. I love this blog, but this has to be my favorite post in a long time!! You rock, and those suits are ridiculously cute!

    My bathing suit comfort level is not very pooch-centric right now (more boob-centric, lol), but I am going to try at least three of these. Thank you!!

    • Lol! I may not have big boobs but I get the boob-centric. While trying on so many swimsuits I noticed post-babies boobs are not easy to keep in place. Sometimes I look at my cleavage and laugh at how they point to different (way different) directions lol. Hope the three you liked work for you!! Thank you

  7. Thanks so much for being so open and sharing this. There are many days (most days, actually) when I feel so discouraged about the state of my stomach post-kids but I love how you wrote that your kids always, absolutely make the swimsuit struggle 100% worth it. I’ll remember that. So glad Shana added you to the team! Thanks for keepin’ it real.

    • Please know that somewhere (actually in NY) there’s another mama who sometimes (most days, as you said) skips the mirror trying to avoid looking at her stomach. I’ll remember that too because honestly I sometimes feel very alone. Thank you so much for reading.

  8. TME team, I would love to see a post like this on lingerie (you don’t have to model). what sexy options are there for mammas who have a pooch????

  9. Julieta pero que bella eres, mujer! And I know I’m a total stranger but here’s the thing about me: I never give a compliment to anyone unless I absolutely 100% mean it. Seriously, you look amazing! Keep on rocking those swimsuits!

    • Que linda! Gracias! I’ll remember this compliment everytime I get discouraged and you actually made it easier when you wrote it in Spanish.

  10. Hi Julieta! I just wanted to say I loved your post. My stomach looks very similar after three pregnancies. I really appreciated all of the options you wrote about and look forward to trying some of them out (I am always hunting for a great one piece)! Thank you so much for writing such a “real” post that everyday mamas like myself can relate to.

  11. Thank you so much for your honesty. I am 51 and my tummy has never recovered from my 2 pregnancies. I work out and am in otherwise good shape but always struggle with this problem. I wish I could just not care and put on a bikini but I can’t. I”ve tried the high waisted bottoms and it has been a good solution. Thank god they are currently in style! One pieces just don’t provide enough support and tankinis just highlight the problem area. You are a beautiful woman and I admire your courage.

  12. Love these posts! I have 2yo twins and a 3mo baby. I’m also nursing, so lots of curves and I’m a 32F right now! My favorite suiting options are my J Crew halter with ruching (think I picked one up after reading Shana’s post!) while nursing, and my Lands End bikini with a racer tank over it after weaning. I have a blouson tankini from Lands End that does flatter post-nursing — the key is to get the high waisted bottoms to put underneath so you don’t need control from the top (dry OR wet).

    My favorites were the gingham bikini and first ruched one on you! You look great, Julieta!

  13. Thank you for this post!!! I have recently been struggling with the bikini or one piece and have bared a one piece the last couple times at the pool. My stomach doesn’t look like it used to at all but the rest of me is in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I too have diastosis and loose skin although I’m down to 1 inch now and the skin is looking better each year ( my youngest is 4) and I’m 41 now. I think I’ve been feeling that I should wear a bikini after all I do look great and have worked hard BUT the thing is I still don’t have that confidence in one I used to. And I’m not sure I ever will. Your words resonated with me so much in this post and I think I’m going back to my one pieces because I shouldn’t be ashamed to hide the one thing I can’t fix on my own (I’m not going the tummy tuck route at my age or with as little fixing as in need-I’ve decided it’s not worth it). Rather I should feel confident in what I wear to the pool the same as I wear anywhere else. I shouldn’t have to feel “proud” to show off my battle wounds as some say if I don’t want to. So I’m not. I am going back to my one pieces. Thank you! And you look amazing by the way!

  14. Thank you for your vulnerability, Julieta! I’m seven months postpartum with my first and am having ALL the feelings about my body right now. I still have a pooch, my hips are wider, and let’s not even get into the pelvic floor issues. It has been really hard to look around at the new moms in my area and think that their bodies just snapped back to normal.

    Your post reminded me that there are things going on with people that we don’t know about. The moms that I think look ah-mazing are most likely pushing through the same insecurities that I am.

    Your post also gave me the courage to just rock my swimsuits next week at the beach with my in-laws. After all, this lumpy, bumpy body of mine produced the greatest blessing ever bestowed upon me – my son – and it should be celebrated.

    And last but certainly not least, you look fab!!

    • I’m six months postpartum!!! Our babies are close.

      I totally get it about all the feelings. If I was brave here was because I’ve been dealing with those feelings for almost 4 years after my first and I’m finally coming to peace with it. I remember avoiding looking at the mirror at all for a long time and if I did tears would always made their way out of my eyes.

      Go and rock that swimsuit! You’ll look gorgeous, I’m sure! and thank you!

  15. I’ve always adored TME- but this post skyrocketed it to one of my all-time favorite blogs. All the love from a mom (with a pooch and a diastasis too after 3 babies!) in MN.

  16. This is the best post I’ve seen on momedit & that goes back a couple years… You look good in all of them, but I especially love the gingham suit.

  17. Mad props for your bravery. My stomach looks just like yours and I’ve been using Shana’s original post about how to camouflage for the last several years. I started with ruched control suits, Miraclesuit makes awesome ones. This year I went all out and combined plunge and crazy pattern. https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B06XHHGDF8/ref=oh_aui_i_d_old_o1_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    A suit that looked totally ugly on the hanger and that I never otherwise would’ve ordered made my saggy boobs look like they did pre-pregnancies! Could not believe it. It isn’t quite as good at controlling the pooch as my earlier ones, but no ones eyes get that far past my perky boobs. So I absolutely second your recommendation to try suits outside your comfort zone. (One caveat on the suit: it looks amazing, but loses practicality points vs my earlier Miraclesuits. It’s strappy tie-back doesn’t hold up nearly as well when my boys are grabbing on to my suit for a piggyback ride in the water. 🙄)

    • Obsessed with that suit!!! WOW! Nobody will look at your pooch in it haha!
      and yes about not holding up so well with the boys…the same happened to me with the black one at the end.

  18. So brave of you, Julieta! My stomach was flat before pregnancy, but I wouldn’t change the way it is now. I love tankinis because I have a long torso and one-pieces are too short on me! But you’re right, they don’t do a ton to shape your stomach… I’m just going with it 🙂 Thank you for your courage and for this killer post.

  19. This was great, I’m wondering if anyone has tips for suits for someone with “saddle bags.” Julieta your legs and butt look awesome! I have the opposite problem, my stomach bounced right back after kids, but my legs are a mess of cellulite and spider veins. Ugh…

    • Hi Holly! Thank you for you compliments. I just came across these boy shorts which in my opinion look awesome especially if you have a nice stomach. There are some short ones in there, but the longer ones are so cute. Please let us know if you try them and how they work. Other moms with the same body type as yours would appreciate it. I truly hope they work!!! http://rstyle.me/n/cqvn2acbrkx

  20. I’m a longtime reader but have never commented and just had to break my silence to say thanks for your honesty and vulnerability in this post! We moms could use more of that. (P.S. You look fab. I need to know your secrets for an awesome butt. Please don’t say it’s being Latina :-))

    • Thank you for breaking your silence. I very much appreciate that….and OMG you made me laugh so much…as much as I would love to say that I work out or at least do a ton of squats, I don’t (starting to) I do know hip thrusts are amazing for it…but yeah this is pretty much the butt I was born with. Sorry

  21. Lisa Everett on

    I also wanted to say that I love this post, it is awesome!! Thank you very much, Julieta, for the many great tips regarding fit, style, and proportion in swimwear, both in the post and in your very helpful responses to reader comments and questions!

  22. Looking great Julieta! I even loved you in the tankini. I agree prints are our friends. I am mom of three and prefer a one piece. I like to play with my kids at the pool. I am short and feel most comfortable and sexy in a one piece. I wear a tankini often though for the ease of running quickly to the bathroom because kids don’t like to wait will I pull up a wet swimsuit. 😂 A rash guard over a tankini is my other go to. Thanks for some realistic options.

  23. You are amazing. I love this post because you are so real. It’s a real body and you are a real mom and you are beautiful! Nice job lady!

    Ruth

  24. Julieta – thank you for this. Your belly shot made my day. I have two kiddos age 7 and 4 and have been so hard on myself for my tummy (even though I tell myself it did something amazing, twice!!, that mean inner voice still creeps in). It’s soooo nice to see you putting yourself out there. It’s important for other mommas to see. Great work!!

  25. I get that you wish your stomach was different but can we please talk about your butt!? Amazing!!!! Love the suits you found. Thanks for showing a real mom body.

    • This comment totally made my day!!!! LOL…that’s why I mentioned I like my bottoms a little cheeky…gotta send the attention to the things I like! Thank you!!!

  26. Great suits. Look up Restore Your Core on fb for a good program to get your DR healed and function restored. There are a lot of free videos you can try and the creator of the program is super body positive and respectful and knowledgeable about the issue.

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