Something about a pregnant woman makes people, including complete strangers, throw all sense of personal space out the window. They just want to touch your belly constantly. I’m never 100% sure what their end goal is, exactly. Feeling baby kicks? Getting some good luck? Having their wish granted? Who knows.
Although I’m happy that they’re acknowledging my pregnancy and grateful to have someone to share my excitement with, the actual moment of rubbing makes me feel a little uncomfortable to say the least, because I’m usually just standing there feeling like Buddha as they rub away and say “awwwwwww” or “oh my goodnesssssssss!”.
Sometimes they will even make comments, like the one I get all the time: “It’s so hard!”… to which I usually want to reply, “What did the hell did you expect it to feel like? Marshmallows? There’s a baby in there pushing ALL of my internal organs out of the way, and my stomach is a gazillion times larger than its normal capacity! Thanks for making me feel like a freak of nature.” But I’m too nice, so I usually just end up saying something along the lines of, “I know, she’s running out of space, *nervous laugh*!”
If you’re lucky, some people will at least ask before they touch. But sometimes they don’t. They just reach out and start rubbing like it’s the most normal thing in the world. And while I usually just let them have their 5 second rub without much comment (because I know they’re happy or just curious and usually only have the best intentions – or again, I’m just too nice)… I know there are some women who would much rather prefer that NO ONE do any touching, under any circumstances. And that’s perfectly acceptable! It’s YOUR body, and you have every right to decide who touches your bump!
So for those of you ladies who fall into this category, here are some alternative options for responding to unsolicited belly rubs. Some are definitely bolder choices than others, so just take your pick of whatever suits your personality best!
- Be sure to let friends and/or family know ahead of time (especially at big gatherings) that you’re not comfortable with belly rubs.
- If you’re lucky enough that someone asks you first, simply respond with “No, sorry, I’m not comfortable with that.” You can also use humor, such as, “The only person who gets to touch is the one who put it there!” Or, “Only if I can touch yours, too, *wink, wink*!”
- If you happen to notice them going in for a rub, try to quickly back up or step sideways while saying, “I’m not really comfortable with people touching me.” You can also add some humor and say, “The last person who did that lost a hand/got punched, so that’s probably not a good idea… *wink wink*!”
- Back up before they get to you and say, “Sorry, but the baby doesn’t like it much when people rub him/her.”
- For the quick-reachers, you might have to resort to physically stopping or removing their hand and saying, “I’d rather you not, but thank you.”
- If someone manages to sneak in an unsolicited rub, ask them if they would please ask first next time.
- If you’re especially miffed, then no explanation required! Just back up and give them a dirty look, especially if you feel it’s warranted.
- Respond with something dramatic and unforgettable so they are less likely to ever do it to someone again, such as: “Whoa, don’t touch me!”. (And if it’s a complete stranger, feel free to insert an expletive or two, followed by dagger eyes and quickly walking away.)
- And one of my personal favorites for people who don’t even bother to ask first: wordlessly reach out and touch their belly at the same time! They are sure to be taken aback by this response from you, and the breach of their own personal space ought to send the message really fast!
- If you’re not a confrontational type, then just get a funny t-shirt that gets the message across for you, like one of these:
How did you deal with unsolicited belly rubs? Share your story in the comments below!
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