The last thing a new mom wants to do is swimsuit shop. I can certainly speak from personal experience—I’ve never liked bathing suit shopping, and although I love the beach and I am a swimmer, I never felt confident or sexy in a swimsuit. Three months postpartum, I found myself at a beach party wishing I was wearing a large potato sac instead of a one-piece that just sucked away my confidence and not my muffin top!
As I dig out of this East Coast blizzard and start prepping for a beach getaway in Miami, I consulted with some professionals about ways moms can shop for bathing suits with a smile.
“Women’s bodies go through lots of changes during pregnancy. After all, we are growing a human being inside of us! And then that human being has to come out of us…So, it is no surprise that our bodies don’t bounce back to looking the way they did pre-baby the day after delivery,” says Dr. Alexis Conason, a Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist. “There’s a lot of pressure on women to ‘get your body back’ after pregnancy. This can be a lot to handle, especially with your hormones rearing in the weeks and months following delivery.”
Additionally, says Conason, postpartum depression (PPD) only intensifies these emotions and leads to our self-esteem taking a major nose-dive. “During this vulnerable and challenging time, swimsuit shopping may feel overwhelming.”
So, fellow moms, let’s remember:
To ignore media pressure
Dr. Conason advises moms to reframe and/or change their perspective. “The truth is, you already have your body back; it went through an incredible feat and it will likely show some evidence of that. Those stretch marks and post-baby pooch are beautiful symbols of your bravery and strength.” Plus, you can’t fit into impossible “perfect mom body” ideals sometimes perpetuated by the media. Challenge the thin “ideal.”
So, you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel post-baby. Who really does, except those 10 or so women?
To embrace acceptance and support
“Acceptance does not mean that you have to like it; it simply means that you accept the reality of your current situation,” explains Dr. Conason. “In this present moment, this is the body that you have. As yourself: How can you care for it as compassionately as possible?”
Also, surround yourself with people who provide you with the support you need, advises Dr. Conason. “This is not just about a friend who will tell you that you look beautiful when you feel anything but. It’s about a person who will listen to your struggle and understand how hard it is to cope with body image postpartum.”
There are great swimsuits out there for you (Really!)
“When shopping, think about top, middle, and bottom. Look for a style that enhances your best assets and don't put too much emphasis on overcompensating for the areas you don't like, as sometimes less is more. Too much fabric can add bulk when you're really trying to do just the opposite,” explains Jen Resnick, founder of Wala Swim, an online shopping experience dedicated to helping women find a fantastic-fitting suit. “Make sure to get the proper top support to lift and flatter your bust line and use hardware, back interest, or other details to attract attention toward your best features.”
You can shop online to avoid dressing rooms
Because many new moms are limited on time, and don’t want to even deal with a dressing room, some apparel companies like Wala Swim, offer free home try-on models of suits, which makes it easy to shop online and send back the ones that don't work.
You’ve still got style, mama—you never lost it
“A bikini or tankini is a great option if your needs (style or size) are different on top and bottom,” says Resnick, whose company offers mix-and-match separates for those seeking one size on top; another on the bottom. If a bikini isn’t your thing, one-piece suits have come a long way and many times, says Resnick, “they can be sexier than a two piece, while providing the coverage that most new moms are looking for.”
Adds Resnick: “The key is finding a style that enhances your natural shape and elongates your figure. Suits with tummy control or tummy ruching can help minimize the post-baby belly and give you the additional confidence needed to get back into a swimsuit. Also, make sure not to buy a bathing suit that’s too big and be sure to properly tighten straps or pull up the suit properly on the sides and back when trying it on.”
Enjoy your beach vacation, mommies! Remember: work that confidence!