Maternity swimsuits have come a long way. Today you can find suits that are both fashionable and comfortable for your expanding waistline.
Maternity swimsuits used to be hard to find—and worse, most designs were outdated and dull. Not anymore! With an influx of celebrities touting their rounded tummies, showing off your bump has become fashionable, whether you choose to do it in a more traditional maternity swimsuit or to bare your belly with a flirty bikini.
Yet when it comes to shopping for a maternity swimsuit, you have to throw out some of the rules you may have learned through years of staring at yourself in the mirror trying on regular swimsuits. The key: comfort and support instead of lifting and flattening.
Shopping for a Suit
“The quest for the perfect maternity swimsuit takes into account one major difference from regular swimsuit shopping—celebrating a woman’s blossoming shape and belly rather than minimizing,” explains Amy Atkin, owner of TummyStyle.com, which sells a variety of suits for moms-to-be.
“I think it’s a good thing,” says Rebecca Matthias, the president and creative director for the largest maternity clothing company in the world, Mothers Work, Inc., which offers five brands, including Pea in the Pod, Mimi Maternity, Motherhood Maternity, and exclusive brands for Sears and Kohl’s. “Women should be proud of their shape when they’re pregnant.”
To show off your changing body, accent the positive—your growing breasts and enviable curves. Look for a maternity swimsuit that will be comfortable in your first trimester and your third.
“Comfort and ease of fit are very important factors for the pregnant woman who does not want to feel constricted by her swimsuit,” advises Atkin.
Dr. Helen Salsbury, MD, an OB-GYN at the Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, Florida, agrees, recommending that moms-to-be don’t stretch out their regular suits. “If [pregnant women] are going to try to use the old bathing suits, it may make it more difficult to breathe,” she says.
Finding the Right Support
To prevent discomfort, look for support in three key areas—your bust, hips, and tummy.
For proper breast support, Matthias advises soft, molded-cup bra styles. Women with large breasts may want to consider an underwire bra. But pay attention to the fit. Dr. Salsbury points out that some underwire styles may be too tight for already sensitive, sore breasts.
Atkin adds another option—shelf bras. Shelf bras offer less bust definition but work well for serious swimmers. The style of support you choose depends on the amount of support you need. Remember that your breasts will most likely increase, so don’t choose a style early in your pregnancy that’s already tight.
If you’re concerned about bust support, also consider the type of straps on the suit. Flatter-chested women may be able to pull off halter styles, but for more serious support, Atkin advises tanks or a suit with wide straps (she adds that an empire waist style will add support, too). Whether you choose wide or thin, look for adjustable straps so you can increase the length as needed.
Your hips will also expand during your pregnancy. Test your suit for flexibility. Atkin suggests materials with the most amount of stretch, such as the 20-percent Lycra offered in the Prego line. Beyond fabric, some suits offer adjustable side ties, too.
When it comes to showing off your growing belly, only you can decide what works. The most important point, in terms of support and your tummy, is that your suit can grow comfortably with your pregnancy and the fabric is never tight across your bump.
Popular Styles and Colors
While they still sell plenty of traditional skirted suits, Matthias says that Mothers Work’s bread and butter are tankinis. Why so popular? Matthias points out that women can mix and match the tops and bottoms. If you’re a serious beachgoer, being able to quickly and easily use the bathroom is another plus with a two-piece.
When it comes to fabric, Matthias recommends textured fabrics, which can smooth over lumps and bumps to flatter any figure.
Black is still a hot seller year round, but Atkin notes that chocolate brown solid suits are also gaining in popularity, while brighter colors and prints seem to sell better in warmer months. She also adds that many of her customers like to color coordinate suits to match the gender of their baby-to-be. “The bright pinks and aquas are always popular and usually chosen based upon the gender of the baby the woman is expecting.” Other fun colors? Mango, lavender, and jade for the summer, suggests Atkin, and “funky, light-hearted prints like polka-dots and large, bright floral patterns.”
Finding the Perfect Suit
“The best way to find that perfect suit is to try it on,” says Atkin, who also advises that you check the company’s return policy, whether you’re shopping online or in a store. You don’t want to end up with a suit you don’t like and not be able to return it.
As far as price, Atkin says a well-made maternity fashion swimsuit is going to run in the mid $60s to $70s, while designer brands start in the high $80s to $100. The best deals are often on one-piece suits, which you can find for a reasonable $40.
Once you buy that perfect suit, make sure to take care of it: rinse the suit when you get out of the water, wash gently, preferably by hand with a mild detergent, and air dry. Be sure to follow the instructions for washing your suit so it’ll last your entire pregnancy and any other pregnancies as well.
Have Fun in the Sun!
“There are a few things every woman should have in her maternity wardrobe, and a swimsuit is one of them,” says Matthias. Whether you’re pregnant in the winter or summer months, Matthias says her stores stock suits year-round, because you never know when you might have the chance to get in the water!