Most mums that I know say their bodies have changed quite a bit since having children. Not necessarily in a negative way (I never had hips until I had Rupert, for example), but most women will notice things aren’t quite the same as before. Fear not – below are my ten tried and tested tips to help you feel confident on the beach and around the pool – whether you’re jetting off abroad or braving a wind-swept shore in Britain:
1. Underwired bikinis are a must for most. I cannot stress this enough. Bin your old string thing and choose a supportive separate from Boux Avenue, Bravissimo or Figleaves – all have a great range of tankinis, halter neck bikinis and swimsuits in sizes A to H cup. It’s the only sane way to go. (And, realistically, you’re not going to be relaxing on a sun lounger like you used to, pre-babies. You will be running, you will be bending over and you will be bouncing. Save yourself from constantly tucking the twins in and and give Topshop bikinis a wide berth until further notice).
2. Whilst we are on the subject, don’t neglect your bottoms. Old, saggy swimwear has been known to linger in my wardrobe longer than it should ever have been allowed to. Boux Avenue’s range of retro mix & match peplum bottoms are a stroke of genius. If you are worried about your thighs or tummy these are comfy, stylish and will cover a multitude of lumps, bumps and dreaded stretch marks.
3. Large glasses. There seems to be a direct correlation between the number of sleepless nights I enjoyed/endured and the number of crow’s feet that have appeared around my eyes. In an attempt to avoid exaggerating them a huge pair of sunglasses should do the job. (Posh Spice also claims they make your face look smaller and daintier. I’m not 100% convinced on that but it does prevent the dreaded ‘white squint-line monobrow’ that I developed in Dubai after sitting on my faithful aviators.).
4. Cover up. Now, if you have the confidence to flounce around on the beach in just a bikini then please crack on. I personally feel more comfortable building sandcastles with a kaftan on, but that might be just me. Either way, they are great for getting to/from the beach without drawing over any unwanted pervs, and you really don’t need to break the bank to get one. Primark, H&M and ASOS all have a great range of kaftans and kimonos that will be your best friend on the beach if you’re not quite ready to strip off yet.
5. Tan. Nowadays I don’t have time to make sure my front gets the same amount of tan time as my back, and so on. Sitting in weird positions whilst wrangling a toddler has led to one too many dodgy tan lines for my liking so I now prefer to fake it and stick on the SPF (your Mum would approve of this too). Garnier’s Summer Body is one of my skin essentials; it builds a safe, light, non-streaky tan that doesn’t stain the sheets (I promise).
6. Shoes. Now, I used to swear by my flip flops throughout the summer but recently I have moved onto gladiator sandals. You cannot run in flip flops on sand, and sometimes you may need to (if your little one is about to lick a dog poo, for example. This happens, believe me, and in situations such as this you need to get there fast). Check out New Look’s range: pretty, practical and perfect for summer.
7. Nails. Having time to go for manicures and pedicures is a thing of the past for me, so I try to do my own at home when I get half the chance. You may not be a fan of polish so in this instance just keep it CLEAN. There is nothing worse than having a rank-looking fingernail passing you over a home-made sandwich.
8. Sarongs. As well as being the obvious cover-up it it gets a little chilly (or when someone isn’t talking to your face) they are a life-saver in many situations (including if you need to breastfeed a baby and fancy some privacy). They can act as a temporary sun shade for a buggy, a wrap-around skirt if you have to walk any distance, and I have even witnessed one being used as an emergency nappy. I also never had to bend over much until I had a baby, so this also will save you from any possible camel-toe calamities.
9. A giant bag. Gok Wan claims a massive bag makes you look smaller and thinner. I claim that a massive bag lets you take all the stuff with you that you may (and may not) need. Everything from plasters to spare pants can be found in my giant beach bag and I am proud that I will never be caught short. This huge bulk of a bag is also a useful beach spot marker, as it can be seen from miles around, and anybody mocking me will soon feel the benefit once it single-handedly weighs all our towels down in that pesky sea breeze.
10. Magazines. Remember the time when you used to get through a whole novel on the beach, pre-babies? Well, you can forget it. Leave the Kindle in the room and opt for a magazine instead. You may just be able to read a few brief articles if your little darling naps, and if/when it gets destroyed by ice cream drips it’s a whole lot cheaper to replace. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One final point about beach body confidence after having a baby – my husband says that even though your body may have changed it is still beautiful (he is a wise man indeed). Just look at what your body gave you – the best gift imaginable – and you have been through a lot together. So cut it (and yourself) some slack. There may indeed be a bit more ‘slack’ than there was before, but it really is your badge of honour. Whatever you choose to wear on the beach this summer just make sure you wear it with pride.