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The Public Domain Pregnant Belly

By Amalah

Hello Amy,

I have a question of my own for you.

How do you recommend dealing with people who want to touch your pregnant belly? I certainly don’t mind when my husband does it, but I’ve had friends who try to do it, and assume it is ok. Amy – it’s not ok. I’m certain they wouldn’t touch me if I wasn’t pregnant, so why now? Why, just because I am pregnant, do they feel it is ok to rub or touch or try to kiss (yes, this happened) my stomach? I bet they wouldn’t be too happy if I touched their stomachs, so I’m not sure why they want to touch mine. I have tried to tell people that I am just not into being touched and would prefer they do not, but these people get offended, and say I’m just being grouchy. These are extended family members, and some friends. I’m just not ok with this and I need a polite way to tell them to back off!

Honestly? Screw polite.

If a straightforward “I’d really rather you didn’t touch me, thanks for your understanding.” gets ignored, or hurts people’s wittle feeeeeeelings, you don’t owe them any further consideration. It’s a perfectly reasonable request to ask that people respect your personal space. I don’t know why so many people suddenly feel entitled to get all up in a pregnant woman’s life — be it via unwanted touching, unsolicited advice, judgement over her choices — but THEY’RE the assholes in this situation, not you. You say whatever you damn well please.

I personally didn’t mind people touching my belly…albeit with permission, once the baby was moving/kicking so there was POINT to the touching. I was lucky, I suppose, because most of my friends would wait for permission, or at least ask if it was okay.

Strangers in the grocery store? Older relatives? Perhaps it’s a generational thing? Because seriously, what the hell are you doing? I would usually try to cross my arms, back away, say some nonsense about sensitive skin or the baby “sleeping.” If friends and family members did get too handsy, I would usually just be honest and say that I was feeling super uncomfortable that day and needed my space.

(Although with my first pregnancy, it happened just days before my due date and I was just too stunned/baffled while this little old lady murmured some blessing in a foreign language while laying both hands on my giant belly [OR MAYBE IT WAS A CURSE]. I just sort of stood there with my hands up, glancing around at other shoppers like, “Is this happening? This is really happening.” At least, in that case, I got a pretty funny story out of it because it SO FREAKING WEIRD.)

(Less funny story: The number of total strangers who tried to touch my belly at my FATHER’S FUNERAL.)

Most people understood when I backed away or expressed my discomfort. People that don’t understand…well, they’re really not your problem. It’s important to understand that. You don’t need to be some nice perfect pregnant lady on their behalf.

“I’d really rather you didn’t touch me, thanks for your understanding.”

“Aw, you’re just being grouchy.”

“Yeah, well, you’d be grouchy too if you felt the way I do right now. [Proceed to list all your symptoms in gross, excruciating detail until they walk away]”

If they get offended, still not your problem. No one is entitled to touch your body without your permission, preshus miracle of gestation going on or otherwise. Tell ’em some no-name Internet advice columnist said so and also that they should back off.

I’ve read other articles on this topic and actually HAVE seen the suggestion to just reach over and start touching the offender’s stomach, which sounds DELICIOUS (especially since it’s a body part that 99% of the population feels self-conscious about), but I doubt I’d ever have the guts to try it. If you do, GODSPEED and you will definitely owe us an update on how THAT went over.

 

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Published June 8, 2015. Last updated March 27, 2018.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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