Our loved ones don’t mean to offend us, of course, but our nice round bellies inevitably become irresistible. Their hands are drawn to our beautiful bellies like a magnet!
Sometimes that’s OK––we share their excitement and appreciate that they care. Other times, however, especially when strangers want to join in on the touching party, the mother-to-be needs to be able to express her discomfort and ask that the people around her respect it.
A gentle warning goes a long way
The best thing you can do to avoid awkward situations is to give the people closest to you a little bit of a warning. This will allow them to understand your needs better and they will avoid feeling rejected or blindsided.
Obviously, you can’t warn strangers in the same way, so you’ll have to develop some tricks to deal with all those well-meaning wandering hands.
Did you know that in October 2013, the state of Pennsylvania (USA) made it illegal to touch the belly of a pregnant woman without her permission?
Things you can say
You can choose to express your discomfort in a funny way or adopt a gentler approach, or you can decide to go the blunt route and speak your mind. Either way, there are many ways you can react and things you can say if people get touchy and you want them to respect your personal space.
- Back up with a smile and explain the situation gently: "This may be my hormones playing tricks on me, but I get uncomfortable when people touch my belly."
- Some people might not know how it feels to get touched when you’re pregnant. Try this: "My doctor told me it’s normal that my stomach is feeling more sensitive."
- If it’s early in the pregnancy and you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, simply say: "I’m sorry, I would rather wait until the baby has started to move before I let you touch my belly."
- If the situation calls for it, you can also be direct, but polite: "Please, I don’t want you touching my belly."
- If you’re on the goofy side, humour could help you get your point across without causing any tension. If someone is about to touch your belly, jump back theatrically and yell: "Ouch! My uterus!"
- You can also play dumb and wonder out loud "What are you doing?" This will likely cause them to pause so you can explain.
- If you don’t mind having a little fun at people’s expense (of course, you can only use this one with strangers), you can act surprised and say: “Uh, I’m not pregnant!"
- Whatever you do, try to avoid getting angry. If you keep it polite, the other person won’t feel attacked and your message is far more likely to get across.