friends touching pregnant woman's stomach
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Responding to unwanted belly rubs

As your belly gets bigger, you may be surprised to see how many people want to touch it. People love babies, and you may run into many people who are fascinated by your bump – sometimes even fascinated enough to forget kindergarten rules like keeping their hands to themselves. Some people might ask first, some people might just reach out and rub. And while you may be open to family, friends, or even strangers rubbing your belly, for many expecting mothers, the belly rub requests can be a hassle at best, immensely intrusive at worst. Whether you’re worried that others may harm Baby or your body, or you’re just uncomfortable with other people touching you, it’s always your right to say “no” to unwanted touching.

Just to be clear: You don’t ever owe anyone an explanation for why you don’t want people touching your body, and sometimes a firm “no” is all it takes to make it stop. You may also be plenty comfortable telling others outright that your body is off limits to unwelcome touch and that they are making you uncomfortable – and you have every right to do so.

But if you don’t feel totally comfortable giving an outright “no” or saying openly that you are uncomfortable – and some people do find this hard or want to handle this situation differently with different kinds of people (for example, a stranger versus a family member) – there are a few different ways you can frame your refusal so that you can still shut down the situation and have people keep their hands off your body.

  • Make an excuse: Most excuses should go over just fine, and most people will hear them and understand the “no” that prompted them. You could say that belly rubs upset your stomach, or that your skin is very sensitive. Once people hear, in one way or another, that you don’t want them to touch you, that should be the end of the story.
  • Tell them Baby’s resting: You can always say that Baby is resting, and that you don’t want them to wake her. It’ll be a perfect reason once she&;s born, so why not start early? You can also say, “she’s not kicking now.” In either case, you’re still saying “no,” while giving a little extra information about Baby, so that the person who’s asking still gets to feel involved. This kind of response can be good for family, friends, or children.
  • Play the healthcare provider card: If you say, “I’m sorry, my healthcare provider says I’m not supposed to let other people touch my belly,” very few people – even really insistent people – are going to argue.
  • Tell the truth: Again, really and truly, you have every right to just let people know that belly rubs make you uncomfortable. Most people will actually understand. And those who don’t? Well, hey, in this situation your comfort level is the only one that matters.

Remember, your body is your body, and that doesn’t change because you’re sharing it with Baby right now. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone touching you outside of pregnancy, there’s no reason you should feel obligated to feel differently now. If you feel like belly touching is a nice way for you to share part of your pregnancy with certain people, that’s wonderful, but you’re the only one who can say how you feel about it. And if you’re uncomfortable with people touching your belly, you have every right to tell people to keep their hands to themselves. Even if folks are well beyond kindergarten, it’s never too late to learn this lesson.

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