Women are led to believe that motherhood is wondrous and life fulfilling—and in most cases, this is true. The journey to that mindset, however, isn’t without its hurdles. Indeed, the road to the delivery room and what comes after can be harrowing, and even with the abundance of literature, podcasts, and other tools available, the physical and mental changes that come with birthing new life isn't systematic. It also plays second fiddle to child-rearing.
“The process of becoming a mother, which anthropologists call ‘matrescence,’ has been largely unexplored in the medical community,” read a New York Times story about motherhood in 2017. “Instead of focusing on the woman’s identity transition, more research is focused on how the baby turns out. But a woman’s story, in addition to how her psychology impacts her parenting, is important to examine, too."
There is no predicting how a mother-to-be will react during her trimesters or feel afterward. Everyone has different circumstances that can influence how she will view herself pre- and post-delivery. Working in the fashion industry, in particular, with its focus on ideal standards of beauty, can be especially taxing. And come summer, when swimsuits are de rigueur, the uneasiness of showing flesh postpartum adds to the pressure of being a new mom.
It is a topic that isn’t often discussed—but definitely needs to be. To that end, we’ve culled seven of the most stylish professionals willing to relay their journeys from the birthing center to the beach, along with their postpartum swimsuit recommendations. Each of them, in varying degrees, went through bouts of uncertainty and shame, eventually realizing that it is absolutely okay to feel that way and address it when need be.
Fashion Stylist and Producer
I’ve never been a swimsuit type of girl. I love fashion, and I’ve always been quite thin, but the kind of thin that looks good fully clothed—not in a bikini. I’m not very well endowed, and, secretly, I never minded because I looked pretty okay in tops and dresses. Swimsuits were another thing, and I steered clear from them. With swimwear, you need to have legs for days, wide swimmer shoulders, ample breasts and a short-ish torso. I had the opposite of each of those qualifiers, so I didn’t participate in, say, a beach beauty contest.
So when I got pregnant—after several ectopic pregnancies and five IVF attempts—and then had my blonde-haired baby 18 years ago, I was not too worried about my postpartum body. When you come that close to that enormous failure, the consequence of getting pregnant and fat was a celebration. After so much failure, I didn’t have an ounce of ambivalence about being pregnant. After giving birth, I had no doubt that I would lose weight since I’ve always been slim, and, in reality, I was very focused on my baby. Getting back into a swimsuit was nonnegotiable, because water plus sand equals happiness for me and my family.
Looking back at the few photos I have of my postpartum beach self, I don’t know why I was bent on hiding and covering up. My body seemed to have bounced back quickly to the shape I always had—better in a dress than a swimsuit, but that’s just me.
Post-pregnancy, I went full-on black one-piece, thinking that black was obviously slimming. At that time, cool swimsuit options were limited, but now brands like Hermoza address pregnancy and post-pregnancy bodies without having you look like a dork mom.
Its suits have the interior structure to hold it together, but the shapes and silhouettes are simple yet chic. The colors are sophisticated and more like my everyday palette. The olive-green maillot with hot-pink straps is a fave.