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Opinion: Can I Touch Your Baby Bump?

Opinion: Can I Touch Your Baby Bump?

“Can I touch your bump?” Is a question almost every pregnant woman gets asked. We often hear stories of women who are angry at others for touching their precious baby bump. But, here Jayne, a mum of two, asks: is it really a big deal?

“Can I touch your bump?”

Such an innocuous question… or is it?

Being pregnant is exciting, daunting, fulfilling, and purposeful. But let’s face it, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.

As your body begins to change as your little one is growing inside you, the first thing you will need to loosen are the reigns on is your fashion sense; suddenly leggings, slippers and the OH’s t-shirts will become your best friends.

There are so many things taken for granted when you’re not pregnant – like a quick trip to the toilet or tying those bloomin’ shoelaces. Perhaps more surprising, though, is the feeling that all of a sudden, on many levels, their bodies are no longer their own. From regular scans, to examinations and samples, retaining personal space can be a personal battle.

Growing a baby is a strange feeling. Your sense of balance is challenged, what you can or want to eat changes, how you exercise changes. The things that make you ‘you’ are different suddenly. That’s before you’ve even left the house!

Once out the door, there are further challenges. Normally, nobody would dream of coming up to you in the street and touching a body part without asking, but when pregnant, you’ll find plenty of people who think nothing of touching your bump and cooing over your condition, whether you know them or not. Some women are comfortable with this situation and some are not which exemplifies the general flow of pregnancy. Every pregnancy, every woman is different; how you feel, what you can tolerate will change – sometimes at any given moment.

Is It Ok For People To Touch My Baby Bump?

Many women are uncomfortable with other touching their baby bump. And when I say uncomfortable, I mean they have very strong opinions on the matter. There are many stories on the web from women who take deep offense at being touched when pregnant. As a society it is not ok for us to walk around touching other people without permission. It’s not ok to invade other people’s space. So why is it ok when we are pregnant?

Usually, during pregnancy when you’re already feeling uncomfortable, the last thing you want to be, generally, is touched.

And it’s not just people. Space becomes an issue. Tube journeys – hellish before carrying a tiny person inside you – were bad enough before. But when pregnant? Standing on a tube during the rush hour sardine challenge is not fun. When very pregnant, I remember many times just waiting on the platform, letting train after train leave, until I could see a possible opening – somewhere to stand where I didn’t have the embarrassment of a stranger wedged up against my bump. Together with my maternal overheating, I’d have been more comfortable stuck in the middle of the Sahara.

So Is It Ok For You To Endure Personal Space Issues When Pregnant?

Personally, I believe that people touching your bump is a way of people reaching out to share your experience. Having a baby, after all, is exciting news. The old proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ means that the development of happy healthy children is possible only with the efforts of the whole community. Perhaps, innately, we all feel a responsibility to any child born? Maybe that’s where the almost involuntary reaching out of a hand to touch comes from – a connection with an unborn being we all have a responsibility to help make it through. A chance at a new life and new possibilities, of mistakes corrected.

I would imagine that most people see touching your bump as touching a baby, rather than you.

Family member and friends will almost certainly think it a way of being ‘involved’ at a time when there’s not much ‘hands-on’ help to be given.

That said, you have every right to address the issue with a firm but polite “no thank you”.

Overall, there are so many things being pregnant renders unavoidable. Some days you will feel better able to cope with personal space issues than others. Towards the end of your pregnancy you could be forgiven for not having much tolerance with anything.

To help you out, here are some tips for making your battle with personal space a little easier:

  • Try to prepare yourself mentally, for the inevitable physical challenges that will come.
  • What if someone wants to touch your bump? Think it through before this happens in person. Ask yourself; are these people being offensive by touching me or are they genuinely happy for my condition? Remember, in their heads, they are touching your baby, not your body.
  • f you don’t want people to touch your bump, move slightly but purposefully if they put their hand forward. You don’t have to be rude, you can qualify it by saying that you don’t feel comfortable.
  • Think about plans in advance. If you are invited to a bar or a party, how comfortable will you be with the constant flow of people brushing past your bump. If you don’t want to put yourself in this situation, don’t feel like you need to go along with others’ plans to make them happy.
  • Organise your journeys in advance. If work can be more flexible with your hours, take later, less crowded public transport. Maybe start using the car more often for the duration of your pregnancy. If you are catching a plane, make sure that you are seated near the toilet and in an aisle seat.

Most importantly, do whatever feels right on any given day. Go easy on yourself. Once your precious little one comes along, the challenges of pregnancy will be long forgotten.


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