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Pregnancy health centre

Don't touch my bump!

Protecting your privacy in pregnancy
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

I bet it's a girl! Are you going to breastfeed? Can I touch your bump? Being pregnant can feel like open season for probing questions and personal space invaders.

Normal boundaries seem to disappear as mums-to-be are quizzed about delicate issues and regaled with labour horror stories, not to mention people wanting to feel your baby belly. Everyone seems to have an opinion or a question about your condition.

You may be fine talking about personal matters with your closest relatives and friends but when colleagues, or even strangers, feel compelled to chat to you when you're with bump it can get a bit weird.

Pregnancy etiquette

So what is permitted for people to ask? Top etiquette expert William Hanson says: "Much caution needs to be taken with pregnant ladies as attitudes, beliefs and stances to things such as inquisitorial questions and feeling the bump, vary."

He believes, "Less is very much more, let the lady who is pregnant or her husband steer the conversation with regards to whether they have asked to find out the baby's gender or current health. Offering heartfelt congratulations is almost always appropriate, however."

If only everyone had the same tact and diplomacy! So how do you deal with unwelcome intrusions without being rude?

Keeping things private

You can't really keep your pregnancy a private matter once you've passed a certain stage as your bump is on show for all to see. People seem to love guessing how many weeks you are gone or passing comment on the shape and size of your baby bump. Some will think nothing of asking if you've been throwing up or whether you're suffering from piles.

"Rather than take on board anyone's opinion or negative comment, try to breathe through it and allow it to be water off a duck's back: their issue, not yours. Think of it as an exercise in building resilience at the start of your mothering journey," says Anya Hayes, author of 'Pregnancy the Naked Truth'.

Touching the bump

It can be disconcerting or just feel plain odd when people feel it's perfectly fine to touch your baby bump unannounced.

You may be OK with close friends and family feeling the baby kicking when you have actually asked them to, but when co-workers or even strangers ask to have a feel it can be really awkward. It's even worse when a hand darts out to touch your bump out of the blue.

"Try to understand that people feel that your bump is not part of you. They would never lunge to feel your tummy if there wasn't a baby inside!" says Anya. "So there is usually never a negative intent behind these touches. Babies make people feel all mushy inside and this is one of the inevitable outcomes."

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