Beach maternity wear: Don't hide the bump

Written by melissa hunter
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How expectant mums can feel sexy and stylish in swimsuits

Beach maternity wear: Don't hide the bump
Expose your tummy with confidence in a teeny bikini. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

My theory is if they didn't need to cover their bellies before, they don't need to do it during their pregnancy.

— Mayra Jimenez, co-founder of the Orchid Boutique

Pregnancy is a beautiful moment in any woman's life. But when it comes to trying on a bathing suit, a pregnant woman may not think that beauty will shine in a bikini. It will, indeed. While a mum-to-be may not have abs of steel during pregnancy -- in fact, that sounds dangerous -- she can look gorgeous, stylish and yes, even sexy in a swimsuit. But just like when shopping for a regular swimsuit, you need to choose the right fit, go for a great style and, of course, show off your assets like the yummy mummy you know you are.

Belly dance

Pregnant women are feeling more and more confident to show off their bellies during pregnancy. Kathleen Mudd, buyer for Canyon Beachwear, a swimsuit store chain, says that most expectant mothers who come to the shops buy two piece suits they would wear even if they weren't pregnant. She said she often sees a change in customers in the third trimester when things take a turn -- the popped belly button is a big turning point. But if you still want the comfort of a two-piece, Mudd recommends a tankini top that matches or complements the suit bottom. The best kind of bottom is a low-cut one that doesn't constrain your belly. She recommends finding one that lands right above your bikini line.

Mayra Jimenez, co-founder of the online swimwear shop, agrees. "My theory is if they didn't need to cover their bellies before, they don't need to do it during their pregnancy. I think showing off a pregnant belly is beautiful." And while you may not feel jazzed about your body, the rest of the world sees you as a gorgeous, glowy, soon-to-be mother.

One-piece options

Beach maternity wear: Don't hide the bump
(Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

So maybe you don't feel on your A-game while you're pregnant. No one will judge. If you do go for a one-piece swimsuit, Mudd recommends opting for a style that gives more support to your bust area since you're probably a bit bigger-chested than normal. A suit with more chest support and even a little push-up is a great way to feel sexy with a baby bump. You might as well flaunt that extra cup size while you have it. Jimenez suggests the one-piece bandeau for expectant moms since it's almost a tube top and brings attention to your neck, shoulders and chest.

Mudd says she doesn't think buying a maternity suit is necessary. They can be more expensive than normal suits and won't offer as many stylish varieties. Instead, go with a suit that's two sizes larger than normal, and it should last you through your pregnancy. Swimsuits are made to stretch, so most suits should accommodate a growing belly.

The three piece

Yes, there are more than two options for a swimsuit. Jimenez says she loves the new trend of a three-piece set, which consists of a bikini bottom, a bikini top in various styles and a blouson -- a blousy swimsuit top that cuts off at the hips. Major designers such as Badgley Mischka are offering three-piece options in 2011, and Jimenez said she thinks the trend will carry into 2012. The blousons come in a variety of cuts, but Jimenez recommends one with a plunging neckline paired with a triangle top underneath. This way you have a sexy, two-piece bathing suit in your first two trimesters and then a matching blouson in your third -- or on a day you ate a grilled cheese with a side of Ben & Jerry's for breakfast. This look is a viable option for stylish women who want a chic, sexy look with a bit more coverage when they're pregnant. "Being pregnant shouldn't be something that stops you from maintaining your normal level of style," Jimenez said.

Bottoms up

The key bathing suit fit element for pregnant women to be wary of, Mudd said, is the leg eye, or the leg openings in bathing suit. You should avoid any cuts that are high because as your stomach grows, the leg eye will cut higher and higher, especially with a one-piece. This will not only be uncomfortable, but will also cut higher into your derriere than you had intended. Opt for something with a lower-cut leg than you're used to, and if you're going for a two-piece, try some boy shorts on for size.

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