This is a more recent play on Shana’s postpartum swimwear post originally published in 2011 and refreshed by me in 2017. While some of the swimsuits I tried on are sold out, you can find even better picks specific to each category. Updated for 2022.
Looking for flattering postpartum clothes and swimwear is not easy at all. This was the hardest try-on I’ve ever done. Even after almost four years of being a mom, I still have the image of my pre-kid body in my head. It’s not a surprise that I get discouraged when I try one on, and I want to take it off right away — especially if the said swimsuit is a bikini.
I do need to say that I LOVE MY BODY AND MY KIDS. Even if someone had told me my skin would stretch to a point where I’d think it would 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’d do it again. Yet, that doesn’t take away how traumatic it can be.
The Postpartum Swim Struggle
I’ve been giving sneak peeks of my postpartum stomach here and there on my Instagram, but have never actually shown the whole thing. So I think I’ll just bare it all here for you and start with that. Postpartum bellies 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 hernia, diastasis recti of many 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 during my second pregnancy – I love big bellies in a bikini.
10 Swimwear Styles That REALLY Hide A Postpartum Pooch
Now that my belly is finally out, let’s dive into all the swimsuits I tried following Shana’s very subjective tips, plus some I discovered along the way.
1. Tankinis Are Not Your Friend
Nope, 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 a saggy belly button, I’d wear a bikini despite the stretch marks. I didn’t even want to try it on – I knew I wouldn’t have any control over my tummy and there are better options.
Shop More Tankinis
I accept I didn’t choose the best tankini to try. This is what I would look for in others:
- Tummy control if possible.
- Ruching, I especially love it because it makes the transition from top to bottom less obvious and gives the illusion of a one-piece.
- Higher rise bottoms: I know most tankinis are shown with regular bikini bottoms, however, I’d be more comfortable with a higher rise, so I wouldn’t be showing my tummy when lifting my arms.
2. Look For Control Swimwear
This is definitely some of the best postpartum swimwear out there when it includes some ruching. Ruching helps to camouflage all that’s going on in your belly.
Ruched one-piece swimsuit (similar) This is a retro one. Hard to get in it, but it molded my pooch perfectly. You’ll get some “you don’t look like you have kids” comments. It’s tight, but once you have it on, it feels great. J.crew has the best quality and color options, but anything by Miraclesuit does miracles, so check them out too! You can try Asos “Sculpt me” line for more affordable options.
3. Try A Suit With An Interesting Ruching
Gottex Lattice V-neck (size 6) Stocked in more colors.
This one is so pretty! It has soft cups (hides your nipples’ weird nursing shape) and the criss-cross ruche gives the illusion of a smaller waist. Great bum coverage too. Comes in more colors. This one is the same but with thicker straps.
Tempt me high-neck monokini (under $30) – TTS. The last time I ordered a few suits from Amazon, this was the only one that fit. It’s a lottery, isn’t it.? While I wouldn’t say I liked this one for me because I prefer a higher leg; it’s a good one if you like that. It comes in a ton of colors, and I loved the top part (front and back). Give it a try for sure.
Shop Control & Ruching Swimsuits
What to look for:
- Crisscross or diagonal ruching is more flattering as you’re creating up and down visual lines that slim you.
- Some control suits are tough to get into but are fine once you can put them on.
3. Blouson-Type One Pieces May Be Your Best Friend
This blouson style is new to me but I found it to be very flattering. Boobs are controlled, and the blouson helps conceal the tummy. If you ask me what the best swimsuit for postpartum bodies is, I say this one. However, I’m not sure about it when wet.
Gottex lattice blouson one piece (size 6) Stocked in more beautiful colors. 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, especially when the extra skin goes above the belly button. I’ve tried on more than 10 bottoms and returned them all. I had all my hopes on this Hapari tummy tuck bottom (since sold out..these are similar and better)
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 small. But I found some I loved…keep reading!
My favorite! PRINTS, PRINTS, AND PRINTS. That’s the key! Especially for those of us who have lots of bumps and lumps in that belly. Solid colors show everything.
Shop High-Rise Bikinis
5. Camouflage With Prints & Patterns
Saw that last high-waisted bikini? Well, I loved it because of the print. Prints make everything more fun and colorful. Sometimes we tend to go with solid colors, especially black, to cover our bodies, but I think a print camouflages even more. Maybe add a very sexy, interesting back?
Shop Printed Swimsuits
What to look for: You must keep the scale of your body and features in mind to choose the print and create harmony. I’m petite with small features, so I usually go for smaller prints.
6. Take The Plunge: Go For A Deep V-Neck
Bringing attention to another part of your body is genius, and it was a tip a longtime reader shared with us. But it has to be the right plunge (not like the one below). Tell me if I’m wrong, but after nursing my first for 2 1/2 years, and the baby is going strong at 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.
Not Taking The Plunge? Try A Lace-Up Suit
The lace-up makes things less plungy but still sexy—one of my favorites to wear. You can adjust it to your preference and breast size. It’s perfect to wear playing with the kids and easy to wear as a bodysuit too. I’ve worn it with cut-offs and also wide-leg pants.
7. The Monokini: A Swimsuit With A Bikini-Looking Back
The bikini-looking back or monokini 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 (since sold out) This one on Amazon is very similar. I immediately took this one to the beach and loved it until I nursed my baby on one side; then, I looked so lopsided. But you know, that’s #momlife and let’s remember all women have one boob bigger than the other.
Shop More Monokinis
8. Try A Suit You Think Won’t Work…
(it might not, but what if it does?) When I mentioned I saw a great bathing suit great for my pre-kid body, but that I got discouraged when I tried it on, I was talking about this one.
I had high hopes for this one. I 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 noticed 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 Suit Did!
So I didn’t think this one would 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 tummy 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, it covers what I need. When I tried this one on, I felt it was meant for me and my lovely pooch. Find a few more options after tip 9!
9. Try Panels, Inserts & Seams In The Pooch Area
Even though I didn’t like it for me, this suit brought me to the conclusion of looking for distracting features in the tummy area beyond prints and ruching. That one had the mix of mesh fabric with the seams at the perfect angles to visually slim my pooch, and it actually controlled it more with the various seams.
Swimsuits With Panels & Special Details
10. Just Be True To Yourself & Wear What You Like
I recently wore this one at the beach, and I felt good. Still conscious and mourning what it once was, but good. Small bikinis are not on my radar right now, not because I feel I cannot show my tummy, but because I don’t feel comfortable or like myself. That’s what’s important, feeling true to yourself. 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.
You can find even more of our swimwear picks in the 2022 Swim Shop!
Ps. I wrote this post in 2017 after having my youngest. In late 2018, I decided to have a tummy tuck to repair my abdominal muscles but even post-surgery, I still follow a lot of these tips. I still have my lower belly full of stretch marks and now a very big scar. You can find a raw and real take on motherhood and style on my IG (@julietatorresd)