I've often found myself wondering, at what point in a woman's pregnancy (including my own) does it seem to become okay to just touch her? (Or remark on her size for that matter). It seems as though once there is a visible bump, there is no more personal bubble. Just because you're sharing your body with a tiny (sometimes energy sucking) human does not mean everyone else gets a free pass to touch you. Enough of your personal space is being taken up by baby, we don't need you feeling touched out before baby even arrives!
It can be difficult to say no to well meaning strangers, however I am here to tell you that you can! Once baby comes you will likely find yourself in similar situations with people wanting to touch him/her, so why not get some practice in politely saying no now?
Over three pregnancies myself, I have found myself brainstorming ideas on how to say no to the belly touching.
Sometimes the simple movement of just moving your belly away from the outreached hand is enough to let them know that you're uncomfortable with the touch. It saves you from out rightly saying no (which by the way- is totally okay too!), by using your body language to say it for you.
Hold Your Bump
Body language truly can speak volumes, similar to the idea of stepping away, simply holding your hands on your belly may be a good way to alert someone to the fact that you'd prefer they not touch.
Rub Their Belly Back
Okay, maybe I'm joking a little with this one, but I have to admit I've truly wondered what it would be like to just reach out and rub the other person's belly as they touch mine. Maybe they would gather more of an understanding of how weird it feels, no?
Just Say No
As I've said a few times now, it's totally okay to just say no. I know it may be daunting, and you may feel rude. But, lets be real, who's the one being rude? Someone just reached out and touched you, or tried to touch you, without asking. Saying no is totally called for! You can be polite about it and sincerely explain that you prefer not to be touched, and value your personal space. Or, you can straight out just tell them not to touch you. It's your body, after all.
I wish I had more suggestions and creative ways to prevent people from touching a growing bump, however the truth of it is, its mostly a matter of letting your wishes be known. As I said, it may be tough to speak up, however its the first of many times you'll find yourself speaking up for your baby, and doing it while they're still inside you is a great time to practice!
We live in a society where personal space is valued, we're typically always arm's length away from each other. Even in the doctor's office, most people will leave a chair between themselves and a stranger. However, put a baby in your belly and BAM! Arm's length no longer exists and it seems your belly is a hand magnet. Maybe it's that being pregnant, or having babies makes it easier to break the ice with a stranger? If that's the case- I want to urge everyone out there, when you see a woman sporting a bump, or even with a new baby, rather than reaching out to touch, maybe just let them know how beautiful they look instead.
Also, it's your body, you know what you're comfortable with. It's okay to say no!
(Have I said that enough times? It's because it bears repeating).