Are you pregnant, love swimming and confused about what you could possibly wear when going to the pool or beach? Well don’t worry any more. Pregnant women have the same rights as anyone else when it comes to enjoying their favourite water activities so don’t feel you need to be excluded.
Fortunately maternity swimwear, like most other maternity clothing, has undergone a revolution in both design and manufacture. This has been helped enormously by changes in the stretchability and inherent strength of certain fibres such as Spandex, Elastene and Lycra. These fibres are what give swimwear its stretch and quick drying features. This combination of qualities as well as recoil resilience and quick drying is essential when it comes to swimwear.
Obviously, the seasons play a big role in whether you are going to need to buy a maternity swimsuit. If the latter stages of your pregnancy are going to occur in the cooler, winter months then you’re probably not going to be as interested in buying maternity swimwear as those mums whose baby is due in summer.
But then again, pregnancy aqua sports have become very popular. The heating of indoor and outdoor pools has meant that there is an extension of months when water activities can still be done in relative comfort.
But I’m so hot!
Many pregnant women feel constantly hot, due to a normal rise in body temperature during gestation. Swimming can provide a great deal of relief and comfort, even for those women who are not generally water enthusiasts. There is also the added bonus of feeling buoyant in water, which brings much needed relief and a sense of weightlessness. This is particularly beneficial for mothers who are very pregnant and experiencing back pain.
I haven’t got a thing to wear!
Whatever swimwear you usually wear is likely to still be suitable for at least your first trimester. Most women don’t “show” until their second trimester (from three-six months) of pregnancy, so even if you are used to wearing a bikini to swim in, this will probably still be fine for the early months. But what you choose to wear is entirely up to you.
Some women love to show off their pregnant belly and wear a bikini until well into their third trimester. But others feel they want to be more discrete and at least have some covering layer, no matter how thin the fabric.
What can be and often is the determining factor in maternity swimwear choices is a mother’s stretch marks. Although these are a very common development during pregnancy, many mothers still feel self conscious about them. So wearing a bikini or a swimsuit which covers more or less skin is really a very individual matter of choice.
What are my options when it comes to choosing maternity swimwear?
The swimwear that you choose will be influenced by how much actual swimming you’re likely to do, or if you plan to just sit in the water and cool off. Some women choose to wear their more athletic, one piece swimsuits for the duration of their pregnancy, especially if they are swimming laps or doing aqua aerobics.
- You can wear what you normally wear and not buy any pregnancy specific swimwear. If you don’t feel you’ll get sufficient wear to justify the expense, then you would perhaps be better off investing the money elsewhere.
- One piece and two piece swimsuits are commonly available, either from maternity speciality stores, department and chain stores. Check out on-line store options as well.
- Halter neck, strap, bandeau and strapless swimsuit tops are all available.
- If you’re interested in saving money, buying second hand may also be an option for you but be mindful of the hygiene issue of doing this.
- A bikini. You may find you need to buy a bigger size than you normally do to accommodate the increase in your breast and bottom size. Some retailers sell separate tops and bottoms, rather than as one sized set. If you are not the same size top and bottom, this could be a more sensible approach.
- A tankini. This is a very popular style during pregnancy, as it has a longer top which covers the belly but also has a separate, bikini style bottom.
- If you are self conscious about your upper thighs, consider wearing a swimsuit which has a short skirt option.
- Some swimsuits come with optional extras such as jersey dresses which can be worn once out of the water.
- A pareo or sarong is another good option for coverage out of the water. If you’re happy to swim in a bikini but feel you want your skin covered when out, then these are a good idea.
- Some women like wearing board shorts or their partner’s sports shorts to swim in during their pregnancy, with just a bikini top. You will need to position the waistband of the shorts underneath your bump as your pregnancy advances.
- If you have a pool at home, it doesn’t really matter what you wear in the privacy of your own yard.
- If you are self conscious about your appearance, remember to go for dark colours, smaller “busy” prints and vertical central panels in a contrasting, darker colour. These all give the illusion of being smaller.
- Many maternity swimsuits feature shirring across the midsection. As the pregnant belly expands, the elasticised portion of the swimsuit stretches.
- Stay focused, positive and upbeat when you are buying a swimsuit. This is not an exercise in self sabotage. If you really can’t stand the idea of scrutinising yourself in a changing room mirror, then do some research online and do your trying on at home.
What’s important to know about maternity swimsuits
- Avoid wearing a swimsuit with tummy control panels. These will just make you feel uncomfortable during what should be a relaxing time.
- Avoid sitting around for long periods in wet swimsuit bottoms. This can lead to vaginal yeast infections (thrush) and skin rashes.
- Tugless swimsuit bottoms which are designed to sit firmly underneath the bottom will be less irritating for you to wear.
- If your breasts are large and heavy, look for a swimsuit top which has a built in, reinforced bust.
- If your breasts are leaking colostrum, you will need a swimsuit top which has more fabric in it than just a thin layer of Lycra. Look for a swimsuit which could discretely cover breast pads if you need to wear them.
- Don’t forget to wear a sun protection cover-up if you’re going to be in the sun for any period of time. Pregnancy hormones can make women more susceptible to skin pigment changes which are exacerbated by exposure to ultraviolet rays.
- If you look after your swimsuit, it will last for longer. Rinse out any chlorine/salt after you’ve finished in it for the day. Avoid hanging it in the direct sunlight and using chlorine based detergents. The Elastene fibres can break down and without these holding the swimsuit together, it will all go rather saggy and won’t make you feel very good about yourself at all.