This is an updated version of Shana’s postpartum swimwear post originally published in 2011.
Looking for flattering postpartum clothes and 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.
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.
Asos Sculpt me Control Gathered waist (size US 6, limited sizes) 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. Here’s another option by J.Crew that comes in a ton of colors.
3. Try an interesting ruching
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.
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. Not seeing your size? More here.
4. High- waisted bikini bottoms?
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
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 and if you’re not finding your size still, here’s a similar top by Ted Baker.
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. Sold out in your size? Here’s a similar option to go with the striped top linked above.
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. Even more sizes here.
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.
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. That suit has since sold out so you can try this similar style! Or maybe one with more cleavage coverage like this gorgeous one!
La blanca Halter one piece (2018 version) – 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 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. Find a few more similar options here and here.
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. ASOS Spaced Floral Cupped Cut Out Mesh Swimsuit (34C) – sold out! Here’s a similar style to try instead. 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
If you follow me on Instagram (@theunbosom) you may have seen me wearing this one at the beach and I felt good. Still conscious and mourning what it once was but good. 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
You can find even more of our swimwear picks in the 2018 Swim Shop !
Chao, chao. Julieta
Come and follow me and my wrinkly stomach over on Instagram (@theunbosom) I keep finding ways to dress it despite its imperfections. You can also find a raw and real take on motherhood. I’m a fan of being vulnerable and real on social media.