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June 07, 2016

Maternity beach: Not your grandmother’s bathing suit

By embracing the bump, maternity swimsuits are more fun than you may think

Parenting Katie's Baby
Katie_Gagnon_09 Colleen English Barbere/for PhillyVoice

At 24 weeks pregnant, Katie wore her first maternity swimsuit over Memorial Day Weekend in Longport, N.J.

Summer is my favorite season because I am obsessed with the ocean and the beach. I’m perfectly happy spending time down the shore when it’s snowing, but I’m euphoric when basking in the hot sun and swimming in the sea. Now that summer is upon us, I have experienced a new first as an expecting mother: wearing a maternity swimsuit.

When I wake up down the shore in the summer, I immediately put on a bikini and shorts. It’s my summer uniform. My bathing suits are pretty skimpy, and the only time I wear a shirt is if I’m getting too much sun or using a rash guard for water sports. Otherwise, I’m usually wearing next to nothing.

I was expecting one of those old-timey bathing suits that our grandmothers used to wear when skimpy was taboo.

Even if I wanted to continue wearing my favorite barely-there summer essentials, there isn’t a bikini in my drawer that will fit this newly expanded bod. Normally I get very excited to shop for new swimsuits, visiting my uncle’s boutique Knit Wit in Margate, New Jersey for its selection of my favorite Letarte two pieces. But I wasn’t thrilled about buying maternity swimsuits this summer. In fact, I was downright scared.

I’m proud of my baby bump and the weight I’ve gained because it’s a sign that I am growing a beautiful baby boy in my belly. I’ve had no problem embracing larger sizes and buying maternity clothes but I definitely had a hang-up about the swimsuit situation because I wasn’t really sure what to buy since I gained 20 pounds. But one thing was certain: I wouldn’t be wearing sweatpants on the beach this summer.

I started my search at Target in late winter, when my husband and I had a trip to Arizona and my bikinis were already starting to feel a little snug. I’ve been lucky at finding great, reasonably-priced bikinis at Target especially in the offseason when most boutiques are still selling sweaters. But no such luck this time around. So I took my search online to Nordstrom. I ordered a size or two larger than my usual, shopped strictly maternity swimsuits and crossed my fingers.

When a black, one-piece halter by Top Shop arrived in the mail, I timidly took it out of the package. I was scared to even look at it. I guess I was expecting one of those old-timey bathing suits that our grandmothers used to wear when skimpy was taboo. But it was cute. Really cute! And looked like something I would wear even if I wasn’t pregnant. It fit wonderfully and I felt sexy and beautiful in it.

I had similar luck with a navy and white striped bikini by Pez D'Or that I also ordered from Nordstrom. The “La Mer” Three-Piece Maternity Swimsuit Set came with a tank that can be worn over the bikini top or by itself. Every time I see I pregnant woman in a bikini I think she looks gorgeously feminine and confident, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bare my belly this summer. However, once I put that bikini on I knew I would get a little use out of the tank. This swimsuit is equal parts comfortable and cute, and I feel like myself in it.

Colleen English Barbere/for PhillyVoice

Katie loving one of her new maternity swimsuits Memorial Day Weekend.

My pregnant body is my most beautiful body. But it is different and requires new, larger clothing. There are so many maternity swimsuit options out there, for every shape and size and preference. Expecting mothers experience a lot of discomfort during pregnancy but I’ve learned there’s no reason to feel uncomfortable in your swimsuit. 

So with that being said, please feel free to send me your suggestions or recommendations for maternity wear. I am ready and excited to embrace my new, constantly changing look!

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