Hands on or off the bump?

When you’re pregnant for the first time, feeling your baby kick is, in the beginning, a bit confusing. “Was that a kick, or was that just my stomach growling?” is a legitimate question. It’s typically not until somewhere around 20-22 weeks, when those kicks start to feel stronger and you even begin to see your tummy move when one happens, that you believe you’re really feeling movement – and not just indigestion. Of course, the really fun moment is when your partner puts his hand on your stomach to feel, and your baby performs on cue. My very favourite moment, however, is when my husband put his cheek against my tummy and the baby immediately kicked him in the head.

What’s not so fun for some pregnant mums is when perfect strangers – and even people you know – ask if they can have a feel. Now, I’ll admit that some pregnant mums love when random people at the supermarket or their coworkers or the courier driver want to touch their bumps. They like to share the miracle of pregnancy with anyone who is interested, and I confess that before I got pregnant with my first child, I was once invited to feel a baby kicking and it was amazing and I felt so privileged. However, during my own pregnancies, I have often wished for a shirt that said “HANDS OFF THE BUMP”.

I don’t know why I’m not comfortable with having my bump touched. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert and bodily contact in general is something reserved for only people close to me? Maybe it’s because the act of bump-touching feels very intimate and I don’t want to share that with the friendly lady in the queue at the post shop? Maybe I’m just shy about my body? Look, I’m not going to see a therapist over this – I just don’t like having my bump touched, and I won’t touch yours unless you specifically invite me to. And I won’t ask if I can touch it. Ever.

So if you’re a bump-toucher, please, please, ASK BEFORE YOU TOUCH. And if the mum-to-be and owner of the bump says no, or looks uncomfortable, then back off gracefully and without offence. Some bumps are off-limits, and that’s okay.

If you don’t mind having your bump touched, then I thank you on behalf of all of the mums-to-be who prefer to keep their bump to themselves.

And if you’re the owner of a bump you’d rather not offer up as public property, I give you permission to politely and firmly refuse when someone comes at you, hand outstretched. You’re allowed to keep those baby kicks to yourself – or share them when your partner is least expecting a tiny boot to the noggin.

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BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.

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