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How can I discourage people from touching my belly?
Q: I’m only two months along, but I am worried that when I begin to show, family, friends and even strangers will want to touch my belly. How can I politely tell people that I don’t want them to touch my belly now that I am pregnant?
Brianna Driscoll
A: Brianna, it may be that humans are genetically programmed to have a fondness for pregnant women; you are correct in assuming that your growing belly will become a source of attraction to others. I was always amazed how easily strangers initiated conversation with me when I was visibly pregnant. Toward the end of pregnancy, it wasn’t uncommon for acquaintances to reach out to try to feel the baby move. You are only two months pregnant, and it will be several months before your belly significantly protrudes. As pregnancy progresses, your own feelings about being touched may change. When you begin to feel your baby kicking, you may wish to have your family and friends witness this miracle, too.

Of course, it is always your right to decide when and how others touch you. If you prefer them not to, your demeanor and body language can provide a strong message. Even the clothes you wear can have an impact. Loose, flowing clothes are less likely to advertise your growing belly, while tight shirts that expose your lower abdomen will be more inviting. You or your partner can let family and friends know early on whether you prefer not to be touched; this could help you avoid having to repeat yourself later on. If a stranger inquires whether it is okay to feel your belly, a simple “no, thank you” is an appropriate response.

Communicating your wishes to others is a good skill to develop during your pregnancy. After your delivery, you are likely to receive many requests to hold your newborn. Some new parents love enlisting the support of others and readily pass around their new baby to family and friends. Others parents are more cautious, preferring to minimize contact with others during the first weeks of life. Certainly this will cut down on your baby’s exposure to germs and potential infections. It would be good for you and your partner (and your pediatrician) to decide together what your policy will be during the first weeks of your newborn’s life.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist