Before we get started, let me say that I LOVE the look of a pregnant belly. I love its satisfying roundness and the promise of new life that accompanies. But there are certainly times when looking pregnant is not so desirable – maybe you’re trying to keep a low profile during your first trimester, perhaps you’ve only recently given birth and your tummy hasn’t shrunk back as quickly as you’d hoped, or possibly you’re sporting a post-Christmas “food baby”.
If you’re pregnant with your first baby you probably won’t need too many of my tips below as your bump will be nice and compact (although a useful heads-up if you’re planning pregnancy: the expanding body part you’ll need to accommodate first is most likely your breasts, not your tummy). If you’re anything like me though, with abdominal muscles that never recovered after the first baby, your body may want to display your pregnancy before you are quite ready. I’m pleased to announce that I’m now 13 weeks pregnant with baby #3, but let me tell you it’s been a challenge to try to disguise my growing belly these last few weeks!
The standard rules still apply – try to stand with good posture (you don’t need to tell me how impossible that is if you’re suffering morning sickness). You might choose to wear a firm fitting (not uncomfortably tight) singlet underneath to smooth out your stomach. Other than that, my main technique for disguising my tummy is to create “explainable volume”. There is no way I can just suck in my tummy at this stage, so instead I try to create an outfit where a casual observer might assume that the little extra volume around the middle is simply due to the way my clothes are sitting. (And possibly a few too many desserts?)
(All photos below taken on the same day at 13 weeks pregnant.)
The jeans I’m wearing here are maternity jeans – you know the ones, with the big stretchy panel instead of a proper waistband. I deliberately chose ones with belt loops so I can still wear a belt, then I tuck the front of a loose top into the belt. This creates the illusion I am wearing jeans with a normal waistband instead of maternity stretchy ones. The tucked top creates a little extra shape around the waist while naturally puffing out slightly at the front – this is my “explainable volume”. (A belt would also be useful if you aren’t at the stage of needing maternity pants but maybe need to leave the top button undone on your regular jeans.)
I tend to grow out of my regular jeans pretty quickly, but can wear some of my skirts for a few extra weeks. Particularly if the skirt is a looser fit normally – if it normally sits closer to your hips, now it will just sit closer to your waist. In this photo, nobody would know that I couldn’t zip my skirt all the way to the top as it’s hidden under my stretchy belt! I also prefer to wear a printed top as it provides some extra distraction, but I’d go for florals or an abstract pattern rather than something geometric like stripes.
Tying your bump in a bright green bow doesn’t seem like the most sensible option to hide it, but in this case the bow becomes “explainable volume”. The bow does stick out, but it always has every other time I’ve worn it too so doesn’t arouse suspicion. In fact it draws attention to itself rather than the tummy behind it. (And it does indeed cover up some of the bumpy bits.)
As always you need to dress for your own body and there are certainly many other clothing options to experiment with. I steer clear of baby doll styles as I feel like these make me look pregnant on a skinny-non-pregnant day, but if they are a style you are comfortable with then go for it. If you have been blessed with a generous bust size then you can probably get away with simply wearing a loose top untucked that flows past your tummy – one of my well-endowed friends managed to hide her second pregnancy until 20 weeks wearing loose tops and a distracting chunky statement necklace. (I personally can’t get away with this as my tummy sticks out further than my chest from early on in pregnancy.)
I’ve struggled to hide my bump through summer time, but it’s definitely easier in the cooler weather. Flowing cardigans, open blazers, and best of all scarves! Use them all to your advantage. Maybe try a monochromatic outfit in dark neutrals (black, grey, navy) then add a pop of colour to pull the eye away from your stomach – bright red shoes, a chunky yellow necklace, or a bright pink purse.
And in case you were wondering, here’s how to proudly showcase your bump once you’re finally ready for the world to see – get rid of the firm fitting singlet, belt above the bump and enjoy :)
Good luck :)