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Belly Buster

I have been reading your site for a couple of years now and I really enjoy it. I have learned so many great ways to handle awkward situations.

Quite a while ago, there was a post about people touching others without permission. One of the main points of discussion was how people seem to do this to pregnant women. Once you start showing, it’s like you are fair game for anyone who wants to touch your belly. I don’t know who started the idea that pregnant women enjoy this, but I hope that they get schooled on why that is not true.

I am pregnant with my third child. I experienced people touching or trying to touch me without permission during my first and second pregnancies and now that I am showing, it is happening again. This time however, it seems to be happening more frequently and it’s not just “little old ladies”, like it was before. I wanted to share two of the most recent encounters I had with “touchers” and get the Dame and the E-hellions opinions on how I handled them.

First encounter: I was out running errands and shopping. I had already told one person who asked to touch my belly no. They were ok with it. After that, I was thinking about how one of the commenters in the post I referred to earlier saying her sister started rubbing the bellies of people who would rub hers when she was pregnant. I thought how great an idea that was and that I would do that to next person who touched me, or tried to, to see how they would respond.

I had to go to Wal-Mart to pick up something I had ordered online. As I was standing in line at the pickup counter a woman, who appeared to be maybe in her early 40’s, walked up to me with her arms extended and I knew what she was going to do. When she stopped in front and just to the side of me and started reaching for my belly and asking how far along I was, I quickly raised and extended my arms and managed to rub her belly first. She gasped, stepped back and yelled, “What do you think you are doing?!”   I calmly replied, “You were going to touch my belly without asking, so I decided to see how you would like it if a complete stranger just started touching you”   She yelled, “No one has ever minded before!”,  and a few other things I couldn’t quite hear as she was stomping off. I thought,  “Good for her but I do mind and I don’t want to be touched.”

The second encounter happened just a few hours ago, as I was standing in the check-out line at the grocery store. I heard a child in the next line talking to someone who turned out to be his mother. It sounded like he was asking her something, but I couldn’t make out the words. I heard the mother say, “Sure honey, go ahead.” A split second later, a small boy appeared in front of me and started forcefully, painfully rubbing my belly. As I instinctively reached out to grasp his hands to stop him, I heard his mom telling another lady in line how little “Johnny” loved to feel babies kicking.

The instant she realized I had grasped his hands to make him stop she raced over saying, “What are you doing? Why are you holding his hands?”   I replied, “I don’t like strangers touching me without permission and your son was hurting me.”  She said, “He’s not a stranger, he’s a child! He was just trying to get the baby to kick! He’s not hurting you!”   I said,”He is a stranger to me and he was hurting me. You really should not encourage or give him permission to touch strangers, pregnant or not, as some people might accidentally hurt him if he just walks up and puts his hands on people.” She sneered at me and said,  “You think you are special because you’re pregnant? My husband is a police officer! I’m going to call him and tell him you threatened to hit our baby and he will have you arrested!”  Her son said, “Daddy’s not a policeman.”

Then, the woman in line behind me said,  “Maybe I should call my husband, County Sheriff  “Smith” and tell him that your son is assaulting a pregnant woman and you are threatening her. Then both of you can get arrested.”   She pulled out her cell phone and said, “Shall I?”  The woman and her kid went back to their line, fast, and the woman never said another word. Her son kept asking her why she said daddy was a policeman, but she never answered him.

I profusely thanked the sheriff’s wife. She said she was glad to help because she got tired of hearing parents threaten to call the police on someone because people would not let others’ children “run over them.”

I don’t think I was wrong to stop the child from touching me or the woman at Wal-Mart. What does the E-Hell community think?   0110-15

I don’t think I would have touched Woman #1 first. If one believes touching by strangers is a violation of personal space, why compound the problem by doing the very thing to someone else?   In other words, one loses credibility in regards to how offensive stranger touching is if you also engage in the same practice.   If bellies are off limits, they are off limits to everyone.  I much prefer the firm removal of the hand off my body accompanied with, “What do you think you are doing?”, in an appropriately indignant and stunned tone of voice.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • koolchicken January 13, 2015, 5:04 am

    Oddly enough the only time any stranger has ever asked permission before touching me was when I was pregnant. But I personally wouldn’t have had an issue with stroking a strangers cheek or hair if they just came up to me and started feeling me up. After all, rubbing a pregnant woman’s belly is an intimate thing (why don’t people get that?). So surely if you’re doing that you’re looking to “have a moment”. I’d never touch first, but I would still do it. Maybe call them darling or sweetheart to really send the message home this is not something you should be doing to a stranger in Wal-Mart.

    As for the woman and her child. Oh my. That “mother” sounds like a piece of work. And what horrifies me the most is that she knew the kid was hurting you- just so he could get the baby to kick! What the heck is wrong with her? I’m so glad that the sheriffs wife was in line behind her. And it’s a good reminder that we should all be looking out for those in need. And you needn’t be a sheriffs wife to offer to call the police if you see someone vulnerable who’s being violated/threatened. If I ever find myself in a similar situation where a pregnant woman is being harmed for the amusement of others I’d be only too happy to loudly announce I’m phoning the police and will happily stand as a witness.

  • Marozia January 13, 2015, 5:08 am

    Admin is quite correct ‘What do you think you are doing?’ basically says it all, as the tone of your voice and the look on your face.
    No way would I have let anybody touch me when I was expecting.

    • Enna January 16, 2015, 12:43 pm

      I can see where the OP is coming from though. If the “belly-rubbers” don’t like their bellies being rubbed, why are they doing it to pregnant women? Its along the lines of “do unto others that they would do unto you”. I remember talking to one parent whose child went though a pinching phase: so the mother would pinch him back to show that it hurt and it wasn’t a nice thing to do and he stopped pinching. Simillar princpal. Sometimes people need a taste of their own medicene to make them re think their behaviour.

  • Lex January 13, 2015, 6:13 am

    I am genuinely staggered that this happens so much. It’s crazy. Perhaps it’s because I’m a brit and we’re more reserved (stiff upper lip and all that) but I can’t say I’ve ever seen it happen here in the UK (although perhaps other brits have different experiences?). It genuinely confuses me that people think it’s okay to touch a pregnant woman. As for the woman in the check out queue I WOULD have had Sheriffs wife call the sheriff, but that is just me – I feel very strongly about violation of my body.

    As a woman trying for a baby, these stories really scare me a lot as the thought of being assaulted (well meaning or no) by ‘belly touchers’ is terrifying. The sooner people get the message that it’s inappropriate the better.

    I saw a story on here a while ago that divided opinion quite strongly: It was about a pregnant woman wearing a t shirt that basically said ‘no, you can’t touch my belly’ (paraphrasing) and many people felt it was rude and presumptuous. Personally, I think it’s appalling that such a thing is even needed!

    OP, I think you ‘getting in first’ on the woman coming at you with her arms out was probably a little knee-jerk but I understand the sentiment. I would probably have pre-empted the event by saying ‘Please don’t touch’ me when she was close enough to hear you, then turned my back. If she THEN violated you, I would THEN have ‘touched her back’. I did chuckle a bit at her indignation – hypocrisy at its finest.

    • lakey January 13, 2015, 12:27 pm

      [i]As a woman trying for a baby, these stories really scare me a lot as the thought of being assaulted (well meaning or no) by ‘belly touchers’ is terrifying.
      I saw a story on here a while ago that divided opinion quite strongly: It was about a pregnant woman wearing a t shirt that basically said ‘no, you can’t touch my belly’ (paraphrasing) and many people felt it was rude and presumptuous. Personally, I think it’s appalling that such a thing is even needed![/i]
      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the t-shirt. When you’re pregnant get one made. It will save you the awkwardness of having to correct people on their inappropriate behavior. It’s better than having to push people’s hands away.

      • lakey January 13, 2015, 12:28 pm

        Sorry, trying to make italics here. The quote tool wasn’t available.

        • Kat January 19, 2015, 5:17 pm

          The [ ] square brackets need to be replaced with pointy brackets

    • mechtilde January 13, 2015, 3:11 pm

      I’m in the UK and although I never experienced it myself, friends of mine did have problems with complete strangers coming up and touching them whilst pregnant.

    • Jett Jaguar January 13, 2015, 7:23 pm

      Lex, I’m a fellow Brit and this happened to a friend of mine several years ago, but to a lesser extent. When she was about 7 months along she and BF went to a big party where they knew maybe 50% of the crowd. All evening people were coming up to her, acquaintances and strangers alike, touching her stomach and exclaiming “Look at you, you’re positively glowing!”, “My, how far along you are!” and the like. Luckily, she and BF were bemused by this behaviour. But she was never touched by complete strangers in the street. She said to me “I don’t get it, no one touches me when I’m not pregnant. Why do they feel they can do it now?”. So it does happen, but like good and proper British subjects, we keep it behind closed doors!

    • Rowan January 14, 2015, 4:07 am

      I’m a Brit and I had the belly-touching thing quite a bit. Worst one was at a work do when a vague acquaintance of my then-husband came up, laid his hand on my 7-month-bump and then chatted away at me WITH HIS HAND STILL RESTING ON MY BELLY. I had never met the guy before, but I was so utterly gobsmacked that I didn’t say anything.

    • Tracy W January 14, 2015, 12:38 pm

      Two pregnancies in the UK, no strangers trying to touch my belly. Several nice occasions of people going out of the way to get me a seat though.

      • Sara January 15, 2015, 12:54 pm

        I live in the US (midwest) and have had two kids in the past 5 years. No one ever tried to touch my belly while pregnant!

    • Elladen January 15, 2015, 11:51 pm

      Brit here, mother of one [very tiring] 4-year-old, and never had strangers attempt to grope me at random. Maybe it’s the area that makes a difference? (I’m in Hampshire, for reference)

  • cicero January 13, 2015, 6:50 am

    my sympathies to the OP – it’s very annoying when people do that!

    I do, however, agree with the Admin here: you can’t touch the other person. at most, i would’ve raised my arm to protect myself when i saw her reaching out.

  • Squashed frog January 13, 2015, 6:51 am

    I’ve never really had a problem with strangers grabbing a feel of my belly. The only annoying one was at my husbands birthday (I was DD) and his best friend, who often gets loud and belligerent when drunk, decided to grab my belly and rub quite roughly whilst yelling to the whole pub the it was lucky to rub the fat preggers belly , look she’s budda! Everyone have a go! Fortunately, everyone looked embarrassed and pulled him away. Thanks, cheers, everyone’s looking, now get in the car please I’m dropping you home.

  • DGS January 13, 2015, 7:37 am

    I experienced similar violations of personal space when pregnant, and the way I dealt with them was by loudly and indignantly stating, “Do not touch me!” or “What do you think you are doing?” That seemed to work…

  • Jett Jaguar January 13, 2015, 8:02 am

    I’ve never had children, by choice, and now I have one more reason to be thankful I made that decision years ago because I cannot imagine a more infuriating affront to one’s dignity and personal space than having complete strangers putting their hands on your body with this sense of entitlement. It’s worse when a child is doing the touching, with the parents’ encouragement no less, because any attempts made by the expectant mother to remove the child’s hands could be misconstrued by an irate Mum or Dad (as happened to the OP).

    You can buy a variety of maternity shirts with variations of the message “Hands Off!” Printed on them. I’m thinking OB/GYNS should be handing these shirts out for free to all their pregnant patients.

  • Cat January 13, 2015, 8:04 am

    I have been amazed by high school students, male and female, that will touch a pregnant teacher’s body without thought or permission. One secretary in a school grabbed my hand and tried to force me to touch another employee to “feel the baby kick”. I pulled my hand away and said, ” No one has the right to put her hands on another person without being invited to do so. Who raised you?”

    With strangers, I think that stepping out of their reach and saying, “Do not put your hands on me” will fend them off. If they grab you before you see it coming, it’s time to use your loud voice and exclaim, “Get your hands off me! I don’t know you!”

    • Marozia January 13, 2015, 3:48 pm

      Very well said. That school secretary had no right to force you to touch a pregnant woman.
      Some people are so vulgar!

  • Jewel January 13, 2015, 8:07 am

    Brilliantly handled. Bet woman #1 will never do it again without permission. I tend to think woman #2 is more than a little dense, but this encounter will at least make her think twice.

  • Stephanie January 13, 2015, 8:07 am

    I’m currently 6 months pregnant and this is my 4th pregnancy. I’ve never had a stranger touch my stomach. I’m very introverted and shy so the mere thought of someone coming up to me and putting their hands on me makes me very uncomfortable. I agree with admin in that I don’t think it’s acceptable for the pregnant woman to react by touching the stranger on the stomach. A “please don’t touch me” and pushing their hands away or stepping back is a clear enough message. I have had strangers (fortunately only a few number of times) touch my children as newborns which I do not like. I smile but turn my body so they can’t reach my baby which sends out a clear message. I’ve noticed that people are more likely to touch my babies when my partner is holding them but as soon as I look at the person touching/about to touch, they apologise and walk away. I guess I just have that look, lol.

    • Huh January 13, 2015, 10:21 am

      I must have that look too, Stephanie, I’ve had similar experiences as you – no one touched me when I was pregnant, and they would try to touch the baby if partner was holding it, but not try with me, and would back off the moment I looked at them. Maybe us introverts put off a “no, don’t touch” vibe or something.

      I’m afraid my reaction to someone trying to touch my stomach would be to slap their hand. Probably not good, etiquette-wise, but its one of those automatic reactions. I don’t want people touching me unless they have permission. BF always has permission, no need to ask. 😉

      • Amanda H. January 13, 2015, 2:05 pm

        Another introvert here, and I’m guessing there must be something to it. In my case, no one ever tried to touch without asking; all had the presence of mind to either ask first or just leave me alone.

        Oddly enough, the only time someone has ever touched my belly without asking was when I was NOT pregnant.

        I was home for the Christmas break from college, and shopping in a store in my small town with my mother. While I was looking at some decorations, a woman I didn’t know came up to me and started up a conversation, asking about how school was going so far and all that. I didn’t know her, but this being a small town, I figured she was someone who knew my mother and had heard about me that way.

        At least, until she patted my belly and asked when I was due. Bear in mind, I was at a perfectly normal BMI at the time, flat as a board in the midsection, not to mention single with no chance of actually being pregnant at the time. I just gave her a dumbfounded look and replied, “I’m not pregnant.”

        That’s when she took a good look at my face, and this expression of horror crossed her features. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I thought you were someone else!” she exclaimed, and scurried away as quickly as she could in embarrassment.

        It still baffles me to this day, because as far as I know, the only other people in town who looked like me were my siblings, none of whom would’ve been the person this woman mistook me for.

    • veggiefan05 January 13, 2015, 8:12 pm

      Another introvert here–I was fully expecting to have to deal with boors attempting to touch my belly during my pregnancy, but no one ever did. I guess I also have that “don’t you dare touch me” vibe!

    • kylynara January 14, 2015, 11:16 am

      Another introvert here. I didn’t have an issue with either belly touching or baby touching with either of my two.

      Also my mom had warned me about everyone and their brother deciding to tell birth horror stories to the pregnant woman. I was all ready with a decidedly non-ehell approved response, but I never got to use it.

      For the curious, “OH my gosh, why did no one tell me? I have to go.” “Where?” “To get an abortion, of course. “

  • Jinx January 13, 2015, 8:26 am

    Someone please do me a favour. Next time someone asks to rub your belly, please ask them why. It seems to be a thing. I’ve personally never touched a pregnant belly, so I’m curious how they feel (I assume firm); which I suppose seems like a legitimate reason to want to do it (you know, bucket list stuff). Either that, or “It’s my only hobby”.

    I think the 1st scenario was hilarious… but also probably not the best bet since she didn’t actually touch you first. Next time, after someone has put their hands on you, then put your hands on them whilst staring deeply into their eyes.

    The part I never enjoyed is that etiquette insists we maintain composure while surrounded by offensive, aggressive clods. So unfortunately, you shouldn’t touch others without their permission if you don’t want them to do it to you. However, this does open up another hilarious situation if someone does ask to touch your belly, you can say, only if I may touch your first?

    Your last scenario you handled perfectly. I’m glad the sheriff’s wife was there to fully diffuse that situation.

    I’d like to end on one last thought, if someone tries to touch your belly, look at them sand and angry and say “I’m not pregnant, I’m fat!” I bet that works wonders 🙂

    • Devin January 13, 2015, 9:48 am

      This had me cracking up at my desk. “Stare deep into their eyes”!!! I’m dying!!

    • Eva January 13, 2015, 10:46 am

      To answer that question: Curiosity. When my sister was pregnant and close to her term, I once asked permission. I really really wanted to feel baby move and I doubt I will have another chance unless I turn into one of those bellygrabbers.

      Mind, I was polite and would have accepted a “No”. But I sure was glad, when she said “yes” and it felt sort of special to know, that my nephew was moving invisibly beneath my hand.

      Never with a stranger. Never unoffered, unless with close family. But I do remember feeling that curiosity with other pregnant women. Again: I would never ever touched. But such a new life has a certain attraction, I suppose?

    • mark January 13, 2015, 10:52 am

      That’s me, why? I don’t want to touch some strangers belly just because she is pregnant?!? I didn’t even think to do that with my sisters when they were pregnant. I may have done this with my mom but I quite frankly don’t remember since I was so young.

      I wouldn’t want to touch even if invited to.

      • Kimstu January 13, 2015, 1:50 pm

        Same here. I’ve never been pregnant myself and have never, that I can remember, felt even the smallest inclination to experience a pregnant belly from the outside. If a pregnant friend says “The baby’s kicking! Do you want to feel it?”, I’m all like “No thanks, I’ll just watch from over here.”

        Nonetheless, I think the OP slightly overdid her noncooperation movement with her preemptive-bellyrub policy. It’s rude (and under some circumstances, illegal) to rub strangers’ bellies, even if you’re only doing it to discourage them from their imminent attempt to rub your belly.

        I wouldn’t even have grasped the hands of the belly-rubbing child: as a rule, you should never put your hands on someone else’s kid without permission unless it’s urgently necessary for your own or somebody else’s physical safety. Putting your arms over your tummy, stepping back, giving the child a fiercely disapproving look and saying loudly in your best schoolmarm voice, “What are you doing? You mustn’t hit people! No! No! Keep your hands to yourself!” should stop the kid in his tracks while making it very clear that he’s the one out of line.

        • L.J. January 14, 2015, 1:35 pm

          It was necessary for her safety. He was hurting her.

    • Jenn50 January 13, 2015, 11:14 am

      I’m not sure why, but I have a very strong urge to touch pregnant bellies. I don’t indulge, but often, that is in spite of feeling hugely compelled. I’ve had three children of my own, and wouldn’t like someone to touch my belly either, which makes it easier to resist, but the compulsion remains. I have no clue why that is, but I suspect others have similar feelings.

    • Miss-E January 13, 2015, 6:41 pm

      It’s pretty cool to touch a pregnant belly, especially if the baby is kicking. The feeling is indescribable (I have no kids so I can only imagine what it feels like to be kicked). That said, I can’t really understand why you would want to touch a total stranger’s belly. I want to touch my pregnant friends/relatives (always, always with permission of course) because I am connected to those babies.

      I love your idea though! I’m going to recommend it to all my pregnant friends!

  • Weaver January 13, 2015, 8:36 am

    She yelled, “No one has ever minded before!” Huh. She doesn’t know that though, does she? All she knows is that people she’s done it to before that have minded have felt too taken aback or awkward to tell her off. Ugh.

    I agree with admin’s comment though. I don’t blame you at all for your reaction in either case, especially as these incursions must get very frustrating as they pile up, but I do think she’s right in recommending a firm response once the touching actually occurs, rather than a pre-emptive strike.

    Just a side note: It’s not always just strangers that people mind. When my best friend was first pregnant, eight or nine years ago, she came to stay overnight at my house. She was about five or six months along I think, clearly showing, and this was the first time I’d seen her since she was pregnant. She was over-the-moon about it. I asked her if I could touch her belly and she replied “I’d rather you didn’t.” Guess what, no problem. I just said “okay” and we moved on with our visit. This is the person whom I’m closer to than anyone else with the exception of my husband, godmother to one of her daughters, and we’ve been best friends for seventeen years. I doubt I’d mind her touching my belly if I got pregnant, but the fact she didn’t want me touching hers is of no concern to me. Different people have different boundaries, and it’s clearly something she just doesn’t like. I’ll have to ask her next time I speak to her how she dealt with any strangers trying to do the same thing during her pregnancies. She’s a teacher and can be quite surprisingly impressive when roused, so I’ll bet she’s got a few good stories 🙂

  • LadyV January 13, 2015, 8:37 am

    I’d love to see the mom in example 2 when her son is a little older. Say the kid does something wrong and then lies about it. She won’t have a leg to stand on as far as punishing him. She raised him to think he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it, regardless of other people’s feelings – AND she taught him by example that lying is okay. (I do love that the little boy completely busted her!) As far as example one – I agree with the admin that it might not have been the best way to handle it – but I can’t help wanting to cheer a little for the OP.

    • Miss-E January 13, 2015, 6:46 pm

      She’s also raising a son who thinks it is okay to touch random strangers…that is something that will not go over so well once that boy becomes a man! That is the kind of behavior that can really get a guy in trouble

      Random sidebar: I was once yanked a little girl back onto the curb on a busy street while standing at the corner with a male coworker (the girl was with her mom and two siblings). Mom thanked me, everyone went on their way, and my coworker confessed that he would have been too afraid of some accusation to grab the girl. Extreme? Probably. But still, boys need to be cautious and that kid is on a dangerous path!

  • Weaver January 13, 2015, 8:41 am

    Oh, I meant that I’m godmother to one of my best friend’s daughters, not that I’m closer to one of the godmothers than I am to my best friend! Another spectacular case of rubbish sentence construction – I seem to be prone to them lately.

    • Amber January 14, 2015, 1:02 pm

      Oh, people do touch babies without asking. Embarrassingly, when I was a teenager I was such a toucher. Luckily for me, after touching a baby at a park, the dad, with a thin-lipped frown, said “frankly, I’d prefer if you didn’t put a hand on my child. She gets sick easily.” I apologized profusely and red-faced, and certainly learned a lesson that day!

      Always tell a toucher that their touching is unacceptable, because they need a knock in the head to realign them with society.

      • Amber January 14, 2015, 1:03 pm

        Oops, responded to the wrong one! Admin, I’m going to post this on the thread below. Sorry!

  • Shannan January 13, 2015, 8:51 am

    OP, I’m with ya!!! I’ve seen C- section videos and they have to cut through several layers of fat and muscle to get to the baby. It’s just wierd to me that people want to touch pregnant bellies. No one would ever think to just reach out and touch a baby in a stroller so why do they want to touch them inside the mother????

    • LadyV January 13, 2015, 10:15 am

      Actually, there’s also people who think nothing of touching – or at least trying to touch – babies in strollers. It’s as if once you have your child in a stroller, he/she is on display and open for public contact.

    • NatGrl January 13, 2015, 10:39 am

      You’d be surprised how many people I’ve seen try to touch a stranger’s baby in a stroller. Or open the top of a closed stroller to get a peek at a strangers baby. Life would be better if more people lived by…if it ain’t yours…don’t touch it.

    • Jones January 13, 2015, 12:01 pm

      Actually strangers do go for baby face touching. It was a major pet peeve of mine as my kids were younger. Grandpa-age men would tickle my son under the chin or smooth his hair at the grocery, any variety of women attempted to touch both son and daughter at any event we went to, whether I was baby wearing or pushing in the stroller. I felt it was ridiculous, and would bring “flu season” and “germs” up as an excuse, though now I feel I didn’t need an excuse.

      I only had one person try to touch my pregnant belly uninvited. My husband spoke in a loud firm voice “Hey you! Hands off my baby!” And she scuttled away. I assume to never touch another pregnant belly…

    • Hey Nonny Nonny January 13, 2015, 12:59 pm

      It’s funny you say that, because while I’ve never had a stranger touch my pregnant belly without asking, I have had MANY people (usually older ladies) touch my kids without asking. Just reach out and rub their hands or cheeks. Not usually in a stroller (I’m guessing because it would force them to stoop) but all the time if I’ve got a baby on my lap while sitting somewhere like a waiting room.

      • AnaMaria January 13, 2015, 2:12 pm

        I was walking with my mom somewhere when I was 12, and an elderly lady suddenly cornered us and started stroking my cheek and gushing about how cute I was. I tried to politely step away and she told me to stop being so shy. Maybe she was right, instead of being shy I should have flat-out said, “Stop touching me, and stop patronizing me.”

    • Shannan January 13, 2015, 3:12 pm

      So glad no one ever tried to touch my baby without permission!!!! I cannot imagine!!!!!

    • Amber January 14, 2015, 1:04 pm

      Oh, people do touch babies without asking. Embarrassingly, when I was a teenager I was such a toucher. Luckily for me, after touching a baby at a park, the dad, with a thin-lipped frown, said “frankly, I’d prefer if you didn’t put a hand on my child. She gets sick easily.” I apologized profusely and red-faced, and certainly learned a lesson that day!

      Always tell a toucher that their touching is unacceptable, because they need a knock in the head to realign them with society.

  • knitwicca January 13, 2015, 9:13 am

    Shannan, people do try to reach out and touch a baby in a stroller.
    In fact, when my daughter was a baby, she was in her car seat inside a shopping cart.
    I was waiting to check out and an elderly lady walked over and tried to pick my daughter up.
    I stopped her by putting my arm between the woman and my baby asking “What do you think you are doing?”
    “I just wanted to hold her” was the reply.
    “The term for taking a child without permission is ‘kidnapping’. Do you really want to go to jail?”

    She huffed away.

    As for touching my belly when I was pregnant…I must have had “that” expression. Few reached out, none actually completed the action.

  • B January 13, 2015, 9:16 am

    I’m now thinking of a recent poster whose daughter’s teacher let the children take turns feeling her bump, but who clearly never thought to tell them that not everyone likes it, because the daughter tried to feel someone else’s. The mother in this story – giving her son permission to touch a stranger! Unbelievable!

    When one of my friends was heavily pregnant, we were in a sports club when a woman we slightly knew ran up to her, **pulled up her T-shirt to expose her naked bump**, and cried, “I want one of these for Christmas!” My friend was horrified, embarrassed, then livid. She yanked her T-shirt down, saying, “FGS, what the hell are you doing?” but the other woman just laughed.

    I’m pregnant and just getting a bump. Touch my bump without asking, I’ll be two feet away politely asking you not to do that again because I don’t like it. Pull my top up, I’ll probably slap you before I’ve even realized.

    • kidzx5 January 13, 2015, 3:21 pm

      Years ago I was grocery shopping with my five young children – reaching for an item – when the baby started to cry… A nearby male shopper looked over and said “Ah, sounds like someone wants their bottle” – before I could answer one of my other kids pulled my shirt up and explained “Mommy doesn’t use bottles”….

      (we both turned red, laughed and I got out if there as quick as I could)

    • Ergala January 13, 2015, 8:15 pm

      At my class reunion I was pregnant with our son and barely showing, I had just entered the 2nd trimester so I had a little bit of a visible bump. These women whom I went to school with and didn’t even really speak to them then came running over squealing with their arms outstretched. I had no idea what they were doing or that they were even coming to ME…imagine my shock when I had several sets of hands suddenly rubbing my belly. I was wearing a jumper, I’m thankful I was, it prevented my stomach from being exposed. Turns out the class president whom organized the whole thing, her mom is friends with my mother and my mother had mentioned that I was expecting her first grandchild. The word was passed on. These are women whom barely acknowledged me when we went to school together and whom I haven’t seen since graduation. I sincerely hope when it’s their turn if it hasn’t happened already that they get a rude awakening to how violated they made me feel. I was too shocked to say or do anything.

    • Cat January 14, 2015, 7:31 pm

      I would have been so tempted to tell the woman who wanted “one of those for Christmas”, “Give me your address. I’ll send my boyfriend/husband over tonight” just to see her face.
      I have thought of a reply for those who want to grab baby bumps, “Touching me will be regarded as a contract to change the first one-thousand diapers.” See if that discourages them.

  • Susan January 13, 2015, 9:18 am

    Many moons ago I had a secretary who became pregnant with her first. I told her that if she didn’t mind I would like to feel the baby kick sometime. She didn’t mind. Sadly there was a flight of stairs between us. She would call on the intercom, I would charge down the stairs, it never worked.

    • Kim January 13, 2015, 4:46 pm

      Hilarious! I wanted to share with my husband. In bed, baby would kick, I would grab his hand and place it where the kick was, no, it’s here, it moved, hold on, s/he’ll kick again, wait for it, there!, no, wait, over here, and on and on.

      He would just fall asleep and I would keep manipulating his hand to give him a kick.

      • Enna January 16, 2015, 12:50 pm

        @ Susan – you had the right idea to ask her first.

  • Lisa January 13, 2015, 9:19 am

    I’m really skeeved out by the story about the little boy. Someone told him that it’s ok to grope someone to “try to get the baby to kick.” He didn’t come up with that on his own.

    Maybe his mother has a younger child and it was ok for him to do that to her when she was pregnant (and I can’t imagine why) but for the mother to encourage him to grope a strange woman? Gross.

    • Doris January 13, 2015, 5:52 pm

      That’s exactly what I thought! It was rather obvious that the boy wasn’t gently placing his hand on the baby bump. Sounded like he was poking and probing to make the baby move. Who taught him that hitting a pregnant woman (and baby) is a good thing? Also, allowing him to touch a stranger may be sending him the wrong message about strangers touching him.

      I don’t understand the fascination with feeling the baby of a stranger move or touching a stranger. Sure, when a relative has encouraged me to feel a kick or just a baby bump, I have. That is because the relative has wanted to share her experience and her joy or, rarely, was concerned. As in, “Is it normal for his foot to be sticking out this far?” However, I have never touched a pregnant belly without being asked to and could not imagine touching a stranger’s even if she asked.

      I had some scary experiences growing up in which someone would try to touch me or succeed in doing so. Unfortunately, when I was pregnant I used to just freeze when a stranger reached for me. In my experience, unwanted touching led to worse things. These days, I am much stronger emotionally and would react differently. Touch me once, I may be able to excuse your ignorance, but you will receive an education about touching strangers. Try to touch me again, I WILL defend myself.

      • Enna January 16, 2015, 12:53 pm

        But what happens when he is older? Like a teenager or an adult. Will he know how to respect a woman’s space then? Maybe he was allowed to push his mother’s tummy when she was pregnant but just because she was alright with that she shouldn’t assume everyone else would like it or find it comfortable.

  • Shoebox January 13, 2015, 9:25 am

    OK, I’ll admit I have, on occasion, caught myself with a fascinated hand extended towards heavily pregnant friends and relatives. Luckily I usually have the presence of mind to pull up and say “Uh… you don’t mind, right?” and the answer is usually no (which I now realise is probably an effort to save *me* discomfort, and feel retroactively guilty accordingly).

    But just wandering up and poking at total strangers? Hell no, can’t even understand that mentality. “Hi, I’ve randomly decided to insert myself into one of the most personal, intimate events of your life! And maybe haul over my small children to make it a real learning experience for everyone!” Yeesh.

    I guess what I’m saying, OP, is that while Admin is 100% correct–the preemptive strike, however justified, means you concede a bit of the high ground–I totally understand the impulse behind Incident #1, and am most inappropriately glad you have the satisfaction of being able to chuckle over the memory. As for incident #2… you can perhaps take comfort from the fact that you’ve probably saved many other women from this kid, and hopefully (albeit I doubt it) taught Mom that her darling isn’t quite the untouchable snowflake she’s been envisioning.

  • PWH January 13, 2015, 9:27 am

    OP, I can’t believe how forward people would be. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight over the last year, but previously carried a pouch in the belly region. I had a couple people assume because of the belly weight, that I was expecting. I can’t imagine if they had tried to put their hands on me. I would have beeen utterly embarrassed and also extremely angry.
    I think you handled yourself very well. Hopefully the first lady will think twice about doing that again. The child could be another thing. If the mother is encouraging the child to roughly handle a stranger and then lying in front of him “My husband is a police officer” , I don’t think things bode well for him.

  • cleosia January 13, 2015, 9:30 am

    Not sure why anyone who isn’t closely connected with the mother-to-be would want to touch her.

    And while we’re at it, let’s save the pregnancy horror stories for another time. Right now, she doesn’t need to hear how you were in bloody labor for 7 days!

    • Lera99 January 13, 2015, 3:40 pm

      This! What is it that drives people to pull out every terrible, horrible, awful pregnancy experience to tell pregnant women?

      A woman in my department is pregnant with her first kid. And people seem to go out of their way to drop by and tell her horror stories about their pregnancies.

    • Ergala January 13, 2015, 8:16 pm

      Or how about being told that the rate of SIDS in boys is higher when they hear you are having a son…..

    • B January 14, 2015, 8:18 am

      Yes!!! What is that about parents who just HAVE to destroy someone else’s joy with their horror stories, and the sneering at any birth plans the expectant mother has? “Ha ha, that’ll last 5 seconds until the pain kicks in, you’ll be screaming for drugs!” and so on.

      It’s not funny, it’s not cute, it’s not bonding. It just comes across as mean and spiteful every time I hear it. It isn’t helpful for an expectant mother to approach giving birth in fear because parents thought it was so hilarious to put the frighteners onto her. Whatever she does experience, she is trying to be positive as she approaches this huge event in her life. I truly don’t understand why people think doing this is ok.

      • Lucretia January 14, 2015, 3:43 pm

        I wish people didn’t tell the pregnancy horror story in question to the resulting child, either. No, mom, the story isn’t fun, YOU don’t think it’s fun, and now you’re wondering why I don’t want to birth any children?

    • Elladen January 16, 2015, 12:05 am

      Definitely this! My father’s new girlfriend, when finding out how far gone I was, decided it would be a good idea to tell me in great detail how a friend of hers had miscarried late into term, and had to give birth to her stillborn child! I was so stunned I just stuttered something and made a hasty exit (as hasty as someone looking like she’d ingested an over-inflated beach ball could, anyway).

  • AnaMaria January 13, 2015, 9:43 am

    I’m wondering if these people who will grab a stranger’s “pregnant” belly have ever accidently gone for a woman who was actually having health issues that caused abdominal swelling. My high-school youth pastor told us about a girl in his previous youth group who was diagnosed with stomach cancer and the treatments caused her stomach to swell so that she looked pregnant- she was very resilient and did the best she could to keep living a normal life despite feeling miserable and embarrassed by her appearance. I do hope she could make a Wal-Mart run without strangers grabbing her and trying to “feel the baby kick” when she was already in a world of physical and emotional discomfort!

    • NotCinderell January 14, 2015, 7:09 am

      Good point. I know a woman with stage IV cancer that has metastasized to her liver, and she sometimes looks pregnant. She is also very ill and extremely frail. Touching her “pregnant” belly would be very much untoward.

  • Saucygirl January 13, 2015, 9:49 am

    Good for you, op! I would have touched the first woman’s stomach too, although I would have waited for her to touch first, just in case I was wrong.

    As for the second scenario, it actually sounds like the boy was trying to do the right thing by asking his mom for permission. He just didn’t realize it wasn’t his moms permission to give. And then combine that with fact that he busted the mom for lying, to me shows that he’s trying. So while I still would have removed his hands from my stomach, I would have talked to him about how it was inappropriate and that his mom doesn’t have the ability to give permission for anything that involves other people. And I would have complimented him loudly for not lying to get his way, and then pointed out that lies are almost always revealed and it makes you look VERY bad and untrustworthy when that happens.

  • LonelyHound January 13, 2015, 10:05 am

    I must have a “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging out on me somewhere 24/7. I have never had a person touch my belly with either of my pregnancies. Oh, I have had the people come by with the longing in their eyes, but something about my demenor really prevents them from touching. Even so I agree with the Admin, you don’t want someone touching you, don’t touch them. However, OP, you handled the mother and child a good sight better than I would have.

    I have seen the “modified” bubbles for pregnant women. Basically, it is a defense for touching a pregnant stranger by saying the fact that your belly extends beyond the initimate space bubble it is fair game, which IMO is not true. The intimate bubble, and really any bubble, extends from the skin out the set distance the person feels comfortable (generally, the initimate bubble is 18 inches from the skin). That means ALL the skin, including that on my pregnant belly. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_space#). And I guard my bubbles fiercely!

    • Moralia January 13, 2015, 2:11 pm

      I was skimming and when I first looked at post and the picture of a “Do Not Disturb” sign on a T-shirt popped into my head. 🙂

      • Syn January 19, 2015, 3:09 pm

        That would actually be a really good pregnant shirt. Less passive aggressive than the “no you can’t touch!” ones but still sending a clear message with a hint of humour.

  • CJ January 13, 2015, 10:47 am

    Shannan – You said “No one would ever think to just reach out and touch a baby in a stroller”. Unfortunately, that was the problem that I had. No one ever tried to touch my belly when I was pregnant that I recall (probably because I didn’t show until about 7 months along and by then I was in a bulky winter coat when out and about). But when my daughter was an infant, I had to tell several strangers not to touch her. Never any men, and the whole age range of women.

  • Yet Another Laura January 13, 2015, 10:51 am

    Do these people think you’re a statue of Buddha? Rub a pregnant woman’s belly and good luck will follow?

    I think you did fine, especially with Woman #2. With Woman #1, do you think she might have been headed off by a firm no? In any case, her reaction says it all.

  • Goldie January 13, 2015, 10:56 am

    What is this madness with the belly-touching? Both my children were born in my home country. No stranger ever touched or tried to touch any part of my body while I was pregnant. This is so bizarre and unsafe. I guess in my home country, people were always afraid that you’d miscarry or something otherwise bad would happen to the baby, so no one would dare to even think about touching a pregnant woman’s stomach.

    I really like that sheriff’s wife, OP! Good on her to stand up for you.

    • Dee January 13, 2015, 3:47 pm

      I don’t see it in my country, either. Or of strangers touching babies. But we do have a large minority (almost a majority!) immigrant population that is, uh, free-spirited, and the children tend to be let loose in public a lot more compared to the “home” population. I do see them touching things they really shouldn’t, and I wonder if this issue of belly/baby touching is a cultural one, rather than just manners. Still, it’s never a good idea to infringe on others’ boundaries, and one’s belly and baby are definitely within their boundary.

  • MichelleP January 13, 2015, 11:08 am

    I couldn’t stand anyone touching my belly while I was pregnant, and couldn’t stand people touching my baby after she was born. I’ve had strangers put their hands on her everywhere! I wasn’t and still aren’t a helicopter mom, but she was a preemie and I have no idea what people have been touching. I would firmly state “Please don’t touch her”. People, including my own parents, couldn’t understand why I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t go up to your husband and grab him, so why are you touching my kid??
    Once, I had her in the stroller and a woman strolled right up and reached in. I instinctively pulled her back, and she said, “Her hat fell off” or something to that effect. I told her thanks, we’ll fix it. I know people don’t mean anything by it, but I don’t like it.

    Any advice for people touching babies without permission?

    • Anonymouse January 13, 2015, 6:20 pm

      I don’t have kids yet, so this is just a guess. I can’t think of any other “etiquette approved” reactions though.

      I think the best you can really do is CONSTANT VIGILANCE, and stop them (with a firm “Do not touch my child”) before they complete the action. Moving them away or shielding them with your body also seems to be a common tactic. That, or never leave the house again until you’re child is grown up.

      I would suggest the first option. 🙂

    • JAN January 16, 2015, 2:37 pm

      I’ve found fewer people try to touch my babies when I’m baby wearing than in a stroller. The stroller thing is only an issue until I make eye contact. I’ve never had the pregnant belly rub from a stranger but I also have no problems giving people “The Look” which is the same one I give my five year old when he is behaving inappropriately, Another useful tool is to extend your arm and hold your hand up in a “stop” position. People react to that physical gesture almost without thinking.

  • Lisa H. January 13, 2015, 11:17 am

    While I have never touched a pregnant woman’s belly without asking first, I did make the mistake of asking if someone was pregnant only to find out they were not. And I did this as an adult. A complete lack of brain cells.

    • RC January 13, 2015, 4:10 pm

      Oh Lisa, I have both been on the receiving end of that (the only time it ever happened, it was TWICE in one day – never wore that dress again!), and just a week ago, I asked a colleague… and the answer was no. I had ummed and ahhhed and thought about asking, before eventually having a brain-lapse and asking her quietly. It was a ‘Christmas food baby’. She’s a dear friend, and assured me she didn’t mind and was amused, but I must have apologised twenty times.

  • JD January 13, 2015, 11:29 am

    Shannan, they DO sometimes want to touch the baby in the stroller — it was so frustrating to me when my kids were tiny. The worst was a woman who asked, “May I kiss your baby? She’s so cute!” Um, thanks for the compliment, but lady you have COLD SORES all over your mouth! No, you may not kiss her. I wouldn’t have believed that one myself, if it hadn’t happened to me.
    OP, I agree with admin about touching first on your first example, but at the same time, I’m with you all the way. If I’d been there with you, I’d probably have cheered you on — even though I think you shouldn’t have touched her first. Second example was done perfectly, and perfectly showed up Entitlement Mom.

  • Katie January 13, 2015, 11:33 am

    @Shannan, unfortunately they DO reach out and touch babies in strollers or carseats. All the time! I never know how to respond since they touch my son while saying complimentary things, such as how cute or we’ll behaved he is. I usually give a polite but firm thank you to shut down further conversation, and move my baby out of reach. No one ever touched me while I was pregnant, so why is my baby now up for grabs??

  • jazzgirl205 January 13, 2015, 12:11 pm

    I guess I’m a bit different. I really didn’t mind when strangers touched my pregnant belly. It was never anything rough – they would just rest their hand there for a second and smile shyly. It was evident that these people felt joy for me, someone they didn’t know.

    However, I did get annoyed when strangers asked me personal questions. One woman asked a bout my stool frequency.

    Here’s something that really annoys me but doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. Nothing to do with pregnancy, but I really really hate it when people use profanity around me. It seems to erase any pleasantness that the conversation may have held.

    • Kimstu January 13, 2015, 2:08 pm

      @jazzgirl, I’m not crazy about people cussing when talking to me either (though my internet persona is often somewhat more foul-mouthed than my real-life one).

      Know how you can (sometimes) get cussers to stop? Look politely repulsed. Not horrified and “OMG what did you just say?!”, because that makes them feel all edgy and daring so they cuss even more in order to keep shocking you. But just sort of momentarily taken aback and awkward, as though you’d seen them dripping ketchup down their chin and you feel embarrassed for them but are trying to ignore their uncouth behavior.

    • Cat January 13, 2015, 2:53 pm

      I think I would have had to ask the woman who asked that very personal question, “Why? Are you planning to have me fertilize your garden?”

    • CaliGirl January 13, 2015, 10:00 pm

      Your stool? Holy Cow! Just when I thought I’d heard it all, that beats any question I got, except maybe the one about hemherroids. What is it with some people and pregnant women? Does seeing the baby belly short circuit the brain? I suppose the OP was rude in the first instance, but oh to have been a fly on that wall.

  • lnelson1218 January 13, 2015, 12:16 pm

    Did get a chuckle out of scenerio one. Love the fact that people can “touch” the pregnant ladies, but think it rude if someone touches them.

    On the humorous side of this, a friend who was pregnant love to see the little feet kicking. When we were having dinner at her place, she kept lifting her blouse up to see the baby’s feet.

    Don’t know how it felt. I didn’t ask to feel. Certainly saw enough.

  • Ashley January 13, 2015, 12:17 pm

    I’ve never in my life understood why anyone thinks this is okay, and it is going to wind up making me guard my belly like a hawk whenever I get pregnant.

    It doesn’t happen very often, but if someone ever does touch me without my permission, my go to reaction is to loudly ask “Did I say you could touch me?” and to take a large step backwards. It’s quite effective. Draws attention to the situation so in case it escalates I’ve got witnesses. Again, this does not happen very often at all, but it is very effective the few times I’ve had to use it.

    I hope lady number one in this story learned a real lesson. “Well no one else minded”…pffft, lady, they probably all minded, they were just too dumbfounded at the fact that you thought it was okay to touch a stranger without permission to actually say anything.

    As for lady number two and her son, she needs to teach her son better. For him to be causing OP pain is ridiculous, and for his mother to just give him permission to go touch you, wow. Just wow. I hope he also keeps asking why she said that daddy was a police man, and I hope he asks her any other time she tries to pull that lie out.

  • Wendy B. January 13, 2015, 12:17 pm

    Actually, Shannan, people often DO reach out and touch random babies. Of course, these are probably the same people touching bellies.

    I’ve only done this once, recently, and it was my cousin and I knew she wouldn’t mind. But even with close friends I wouldn’t…it’s just weird.

    Even if it might be eHell unapproved, I would have LOVED to have seen the reaction of the first woman. I mean…talk about turning the tables on someone! 😀

  • JO January 13, 2015, 12:25 pm

    Yup, my sister used to do the whole reach-out-and-rub-back thing. And while I won’t deny that it provided us plenty of amusement, I’m afraid I must admit that it probably wasn’t the best thing she could have done. She did have the good luck to have this happen mainly with people she was aquainted with, not strangers. In the future, perhaps simply crossing your arms over your belly and saying “please don’t” in a firm voice would be better. As for the kid and mother, sounds like a case of special snowflake syndrome to me.

  • Lindsay January 13, 2015, 12:26 pm

    I’m sure I’m an outlier here, but I’ve never thought a “Polite Spine” and “Admonishing and embarrassing the offender” went hand in hand. Yes, these people shouldn’t be touching you. But as this is an etiquette site, wouldn’t the proper reaction be to simply say, “Please don’t touch my belly” instead of going out of your way to embarrass the offender?

    • crebj January 13, 2015, 3:37 pm

      I agree that embarrassing people doesn’t help them get the message. To what end? They focus on how bad they feel, and don’t hear you.

      Unless you’re up against a *really* hard case who refuses to hear “Please don’t (***).”

    • Karen L January 13, 2015, 4:01 pm

      Groping a stranger is assault, and we owe no etiquette duty to criminals. Would you say, “Excuse me, please, Mr. Rapist, could you please stop?” or would you scream your head off?

      Frankly, if it were me, and someone touched my pregnant belly, I would scream as loud as I could “Keep your hands off me, you pervert!” same as I would if a stranger groped me on the subway.

      • Lindsay January 14, 2015, 10:48 am

        But rape and touching a pregnant belly are not the same thing- And quite frankly, by infering they are, aren’t you trivializing rape? I also feel there is quite a difference between groping and touching- Most notably intent. A simple “Please don’t” should suffice to keep unwanted hands away from bellies. If that doesn’t work, by all means escalate, but my. These are hardly criminals, more like socially challenged, yes?

        • BekkaW January 20, 2015, 7:04 am

          I agree they’re not the same thing, but they are on the same spectrum of failure to respect a woman’s agency over her own body. No one has any right to touch your body, whether they think its fine/hamless/well intentioned is not their decision to make.

          Behaviours like this contribute to a culture in which women freeze or are too frightened to protest or fight back because we are conditioned to be polite and not make a fuss.

        • Lawgeek January 24, 2015, 11:01 pm

          That depends on the state. In many places in the US it is indeed a crime to touch someone without their consent.

      • admin January 14, 2015, 11:00 am

        It’s comments like this, Karen L, that are likely to get you banned from the site. You obviously have no interest in gauging your response to the situation but expect to escalate to drama queen reaction on the belief that everyone and every situation contains a rapist or pervert.

  • EllenS January 13, 2015, 12:37 pm

    In the second instance with the child, I think the LW was fine – she stopped the child and returned him to his mother.
    In the first instance, she recognized what the woman was going to do, and then decided to allow her to keep approaching, so that she could try her “move” – she basically set this woman up, in order to see how she would react.
    This was rude. The polite thing to do, if you believe someone is going to hug/touch you in a way you do not wish, is to not let it happen – she could easily have moved, gotten behind her cart, or simply put her hand up in a “stop” gesture and said, “Please don’t touch me.”

    • iwadasn January 13, 2015, 9:34 pm

      I agree that the first example was mishandled. She thinks someone is about to be rude, so she beats them to it by being rude first? That’s ridiculous and childish, and it could easily backfire if she does it to someone who actually had no intention of touching her.

  • burgerking January 13, 2015, 12:49 pm

    I blame movies, and TV. 🙂 it seems like everytime I turn around and there’s a pregnant woman on a TV or movie show, people are really touching her belly and everyone is smiling and loving the warm fuzzy moment.

  • CW January 13, 2015, 1:27 pm

    I am so very thankful that no stranger has tried to touch my belly in my 38 weeks of pregnancy. I had a possible close encounter but I’m sure the look on my face as she got closer fended her off. I was concerned it was going to be an issue and I had an arsenal of “How dare you” type statements ready if some random person attempted the belly rub. Maybe I come across as unapproachable, but the only people who’ve rubbed my belly are friends and family and they’ve all asked before reaching out to touch. (Thank goodness! )

  • Yarnspinner January 13, 2015, 1:39 pm

    While I have had pregnant friends grab my hand and slap it on their clothed pregnant bellies, it would never in a hundred million years occur to me that it is appropriate for me to touch a perfect stranger (or even a close friend) without permission. When exactly did this become an okay thing to do?

    And encouraging small children to push on someone’s pregnancy to get the baby to kick? Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, lady! Let’s dig our fists into your intestines to see if we can get you to release gas or something. WHAT is wrong with people?

  • chipmunky January 13, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Not necessarily ehell approved….but some years ago, I had a friend who announced her 2nd pregnancy. During a girls day (lunch, light shopping), I gave her a gift consisting of a gender neutral onesie and a beribboned fly swatter. When asked what the swatter was for, I responded “to whack hands trying to touch your belly without asking!”

    She got a huge laugh out of it….and then let me know later in her pregnancy that she actually took the swatter with her when she went out, tucked in her bag, as so many people just felt her belly was communal property! She said the worst was at the park with her older child- other mothers/grandmothers/aunts/etc were coming up to put their hands on her belly. She started pulling out the fly swatter and using it as a guard across her belly- at that point, her swatter also had fake jewels on it saying “Anti Belly Touch.” While she never used it on strangers (though had to whap some hands of grown cousins who ignored the “please don’t/no/you don’t have permission” lines repeatedly), they got the message and some even wanted their own.

    Regarding trying to pick up children/touch infants- when I was about 4 years old, I had cherubic blonde curls to go with my blue eyes. My mother and I were in the grocery store, and a total stranger walked up to me and started talking to me. I was quiet, and said nothing in response. The lady finally got mad, saying “what’s wrong with your little girl, doesn’t she talk?” My mother responded “yes, but not to strangers.” The lady replied “But I’m a TEACHER!!” My mother, puzzled, asked her how on earth a 4 year old was supposed to know a stranger was a teacher, and how did that have bearing on the fact that she was a total stranger?

    Some people need a clue by four sometimes…

    • Elladen January 16, 2015, 12:15 am

      @chipmunky – “Get a clue by four” may be the best thing I have read today!

  • NostalgicGal January 13, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Bravo on #2 encounter for OP where the lady sent the other two packing. I only defend the first incident the OP mentions as she may have cured the other woman of doing it to anyone else, but I agree I wouldn’t have touched the other woman FIRST.

    I have medical issues and I carry my weight in front like I am several months along. It has come and gone over the past 20 plus years but, I currently look ‘toting’ again (normal thin arms and legs and thick stomach out front). Those that KNOW me don’t mess with me. At some shows I used to do I had a big pin on button made that said “I am *NOT* due” and wore that, and the merchants/dealers around me were told same before we ever got the event underway, so. Those that come up to touch, I will insert my hand between myself and their hand or hands before they can, and tell them “It’s not a baby, please don’t touch.” indignancy gets “I am telling the truth, I’ve been pregnant for twenty years, please leave me alone.” I wear clothes that don’t look like maternity stuff. When I moved the last time I had a few months of educating everyone that I’m ‘just fat’ and after no baby appeared, I’m not bothered by the locals and neighbors. If asked when I am due, I say (about two years hence, so right now the response would be) “2017”. That makes most stop and go huh? so I can tell them I’m not pregnant. I wish we could educate everyone about KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF …..

  • Melissa H. January 13, 2015, 2:46 pm

    If there is one thing I have learned in this world, it is to never, EVER assume a woman is pregnant until I see a baby coming out of her body!! It just saves you (and the woman involved) a lot of embarrassment if it turns out she is not.

  • Angeldrac January 13, 2015, 2:46 pm

    I’m wondering if I should start stroking people’s faces every time they try to stroke my kids? I HATE it, and simply pulling them away and saying “please don’t touch” doesn’t seem to get the message through.

  • Shoegal January 13, 2015, 3:36 pm

    I have never been pregnant and based on stories like these it scares me from it. I don’t want random strangers (even ones with the best and friendliest of intentions) touching me. I’m not sure I’d even want family members touching me uninvited. Even if I had a tanned and toned, flat stomach and I’m standing there in a bikini on a beach would I want somebody thinking it was ok. Just saying – pregnant or not – everybody needs to keep their hands to themselves. I have never reached out my hand to my sister’s stomach and touched her when she was pregnant with each of her 4 children. There were a couple times she put my hand there so I could feel but I can’t recall a single time when I just went ahead and did it. Who are these people?!?!

  • PM January 13, 2015, 4:19 pm

    The belly touching is an obvious gaffe and I think the OP is handling it in a pretty direct manner.

    I am also glad the sheriff’s wife called that woman on claiming she was married to a cop. I’m married to a police officer and 1) I don’t use that fact as a club to bludgeon people in to giving me my way and 2) I see way too many people try to fake a claim to a police officer to get their way or get out of trouble. It’s insulting to cops and their families, most of whom DON’T use their connections to law enforcement to get special favors.

    A few Christmases ago, I was standing in line at customer service at a toy store and a guy cut line two spots in front of me. When the woman he cut in front of objected, he flashed his wallet open, waaaay too fast to see anything, and then said, “You’re going to want to shut up, I’m a cop with (Local PD).” in this loud, authoritative command tone.

    I did not recognize this guy. And my husband works at a department where all of the officers know each other and their families know each other. So I took out my cell phone and called my husband, who was not at work, and said loudly, “Hi, sweetheart, there’s a man here who says he works for your department and is using his pretend badge to try to cut in line at a toy store. Why yes, it IS illegal to impersonate a police officer. Hold on, for a second- excuse me, sir, what did you say your name and pretend badge number is?”

    The man made a rude gesture and stomped off. (Management stopped him and had a conversation about line-cutting.) My husband told me to stop causing scenes in toy stores. Totally worth it.

    • NostalgicGal January 14, 2015, 11:33 pm


  • Kim January 13, 2015, 4:38 pm

    I have 3 kids and my family is done. But I still love pregnant bellies and feeling babies move. That said, I ALWAYS ask before touching. Always. And only people I know, at work or personally. Never strangers. Even to ask to touch a stranger’s pregnant belly is weird. They’re strangers, for goodness sake. It’s awkward. And I come from a part of the country (in Canada) that is very friendly.

    I touched a co-worker’s belly a few months ago – but I asked first and she consented happily. And we both played “what is that baby part”? LOL. Even to a jaded mom of 3, a pregnant belly is an awesome thing, but that’s my problem, not the pregnant lady’s problem. I rein in my love of pregnant bellies in public.

    I can’t believe that this is even a problem. Shouldn’t even come up with strangers.

    I don’t seem to recall this happening that often when I was pregnant. I don’t think any strangers went reaching for my stomach… friends and family, sure, but not strangers.

    • B January 14, 2015, 8:32 am

      I have to say that I would be deeply uncomfortable if a work colleague asked to feel my bump. For me, it is not appropriate for someone in the workplace to ask to do something that physically intimate just because I’m pregnant, whether they are a parent or not. I’d refuse, but it would be awkward.

      I actually find even asking to touch the bump weird. Really, if a pregnant woman wants you to feel her belly, she’ll offer!

      • Kim January 14, 2015, 12:51 pm

        Then she would have said no. No problem. But she didn’t have an issue with it. She was smiling and pointing out where the baby was.

        It was not inappropriate at all. It was once, it was at her office baby shower and I asked first. I had also worked closely with her and sat next to her for a year and a half. Once again, I would not ask a co-worker who I was not familiar with. Again, that would be a stranger.

        But don’t worry; I won’t ask to touch your belly. None of this has anything to do with already being a parent.

  • lizza January 13, 2015, 4:50 pm

    I feel bad for the little boy – he asked for permission and he probably didn’t realize he was hurting you. Granted he asked the wrong person for permission, but I sort of feel like at least he was trying? The mom’s reaction was completely out of line, though! Glad the sheriff’s wife was behind her.

    Sometimes I feel odd when I don’t want to touch pregnant women’s stomachs. No, I don’t want to feel the baby kicking or having the hiccups, thanks. I don’t want to feel how hard or whatnot your stomach is. I’m sure it’ll change if I have kids, but right now it freaks me out!

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