It’s a given: it seems like people will always want to touch a pregnant woman’s belly. But what if you just don’t want someone in your space? Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with people touching your body, or maybe your belly is sensitive, and having a lot of hands on it can make it feel even more uncomfortable. That’s why you need to know how to get people to stop touching your belly.
For the most part, people want to touch a pregnant woman’s belly because they’re excited about the upcoming baby. “As human beings who are about connection and connecting with others, resisting the curiosity of what a pregnant belly feels like or the kicking response that a baby delivers may be too much for some to resist,” Dr. Geny Zapata, Psy.D, a clinical health psychologist, tells Celebrity Parents. “Although it is most likely that the intentions of reaching out and touching a woman’s pregnant belly may not be coming from a negative place, it doesn’t mean that it may be comfortable or acceptable to a woman.”
So if you want to avoid an attack of the (belly) space invaders, try to follow these tips.
Think About Your Own Needs
You might find that you don’t mind if someone you’re close to (like your BFF or a family member) touches your belly, but you might have a problem with a stranger strolling down the street. “It’s a good idea to think about how you feel about your pregnant belly being touched and also what you feel comfortable with,” advises Dr. Zapata. “Once you have decided how you feel about it, think about being in that situation and begin practicing some phrases that would feel comfortable for you.”
Just because you have a beautiful bump doesn’t mean that anyone (even strangers) can touch it. “Considering that the curiosity related to the experience of a woman being pregnant would be the likely reason for reaching out to teach, I would suggest that if this is something that makes you feel uncomfortable please do not hesitate to make it a teachable moment,” says Dr. Zapata. “It’s absolutely fine to politely set a boundary related to your body and personal space.”
Know What To Say
Telling someone to stop touching you can be completely uncomfortable. That’s why you should have your response at the ready in case a situation arises. Dr. Zapata offers these statements that you can use to convey that you would prefer not to be touched or are uncomfortable:
“It makes me feel uncomfortable when people touch my belly/stomach/bump, I would prefer not to be touched.”
“It is my preference to be asked first if my body/belly/bump could be touched.”
“Please excuse me, I only feel comfortable with my husband/partner/doctor touching my belly/bump.”
“I would have preferred to be asked first if my body/stomach/belly, bump could be touched.”
You can politely say, “Thanks for your well-wishes, but I’d prefer that you don’t touch.”
Watch The Hands
Depending on how fast your reflexes are, you can always try to tackle a touch before it even happens. If someone makes a comment about your burgeoning belly, (and you then see their hand slowly making its way to touch your bump), you can either gently grab their hand and give it a kind squeeze, or step back slightly to avoid contact.
Make a Joke
If you want to make light of the situation, you can always give their belly a rub right back. They might be shocked or surprised, but it will definitely get your point across loud and clear.
Don’t Feel Badly
Ultimately, you’re responsible for yourself and the safety of you and your belly. What you aren’t responsible for: how someone else chooses to interpret and respond to your boundary-setting. If you find that the person’s reaction is negative, try not to take it to heart. “They are responsible for those feelings that arise and for their responses,” says Natalie Mica, MEd, LPC, CDWF, a licensed professional counselor, tells Celebrity Parents. “Let go of the notion that your boundary caused someone else to think, feel or respond in any particular way.” Says Dr. Zapata: “If a woman who is not pregnant is walking down the street, would you reach out and touch her stomach? The answer would most likely be no.”
It can be hard to get people to stop touching your belly. But your personal space (and that of your unborn baby) is something that should be respected by everyone. You have every right to decide who gets to touch your belly —and who doesn’t— without worrying about offending anyone.