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My husband decided that, this year, we were all going to go swimming as a family during our recent holiday. That was all well and good but, being seven months pregnant at the time, it did raise a bit of a dilemma in the clothing department for me! I needed something to cover not only my modesty but my rapidly expanding baby bump too.
Anybody with any first-hand experience of pregnancy will no doubt understand how difficult it is to keep on top of *ahem* 'personal grooming' during the later stages, as a hard bump restricts your abilility to bend over and also limits your vision, so it's incredibly difficult to maintain a bikini line that would pass muster in a traditional swimming costume. Wriggling in and out of restrictive swimwear isn't ideal either, especially once a costume is wet and clingy!
A quick look online at maternity swimming costumes and suchlike wasn't particularly inspiring until I decided that a shorts style tankini was the best option for me. A tankini is essentially a two-piece swimming costume incorporating a vest style top alongside either traditional bikini bottoms or, as in this case, shorts. This is a more conservative option than a bikini (as nobody really needs to see my bump exposed at close quarters after carrying almost three children!) but is easier to take on and off than a traditional one piece, especially when heavily pregnant.
Surprisingly, I didn't find too many shorts style maternity tankinis available but the Zoggs tankini was in stock at one of my favourite online shops, Figleaves. It's not a cheap option (particularly considering its relatively short period in use) with an RRP of £30. I managed to use a 20% discount code alongside an offer for free delivery which brought the price down to a more reasonable £24.
I found ordering this costume online a little difficult with respect to sizing as this is even more difficult during pregnancy than otherwise. Despite being a two-piece, the tankini is sold in one size so there is no option, for instance, to buy a larger vest top and combine with a smaller bottom piece or vice versa. This was a shame as I wasn't convinced that I have grown in equal proportion all over my body. Moreover, the sizing was just a single figure, based on bust size alone with no mention of cup size. As my chest has ballooned from a modest 32B to a mammoth 38C, but my extra body weight has all ended up in an 'up front' bump, I ended up ordering a tankini in a size 36. My reasoning was that, as worse case scenario, I'd rather have a slighty tight top than risk having the bottoms falling down mid-swim because they were too loose!
Fortunately, my educated sizing guess wasn't too far off the mark when my tankini arrived. As it made out of 80% nylon and 20% lycra, there is quite a lot of stretch and flexibility within the fabric so an exact fit isn't too much of an issue. The sides of the vest top are slightly ruched towards the bottom, which also helps with stretchiness and helped to ensure that the top covered my bump completely without any unflattering gaps. The shorts feature an inner drawstring too so, if they are slightly loose these can be adjusted for a more comfortable fit. This also means that this tankini could be bought during the relatively early stages of pregnancy and there will be sufficient flexibility and room for adjustments for this to last throughout the entire pregnancy without becoming too tight, making it much better value for money.
The design of the tankini itself is fairly neutral and likely to appeal to quite a wide audience. It's predominantly black (allegedly a slimming colour!) with a discreet pink trim acround the top and over the chest. This breaks up the mass of single colour and adds a little touch of femininity to the costume - although I suppose there can be nothing more distinctly feminine than pregnancy!
I did feel a little self-conscious when I first entered the pool wearing this tankini. My well-meaning husband did little to improve my confidence with his off-hand comment telling me I looked '...okay, compared to some of the states in here!' Once I was actually in the water, I actually felt very comfortable and was able to move about unrestricted. The fabric is very clingy but feels secure and discreet. It was quite hot in the general pool area and the fabric on this tankini is surprisingly thick, especially as the top features an internal panel so has an additional layer of fabric. I was grateful for this extra layer when we got into the chilly pool though. Neither the top or the shorts rode up at all, even when I was carrying my toddler around the swimming pool, and the discreet coverage provided by the shorts style bottom gave me the confidence that I wasn't exposing anything untoward. As a flexible two piece, it was very easy to get on and off, even when trying to keep a watchful eye on a two year old at the same time.
After use, this costume was very quick to dry because of the nature of the fabrics used and it has survived a couple of wears and washes still looking brand new. As I'm quite late on in my pregnancy, I'm hoping that this will have a respectable resale value as it is in almost new condition and is an ideal swimwear solution for pregnancy.
I would certainly recommend other pregnant women to buy this style of tankini over any over form of swimwear as it is both practical, relatively flattering and, most importantly, extremely comfortable.