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Touchy Feely

06/24/2011

Once my pregnancy started to show beyond question –  “did she eat too many burritos or is she pregnant?” – I noticed another phenomenon start… the belly encounter. Something that would have been completely inappropriate for someone to do before I was pregnant suddenly became the norm. I even had a man reach out and pat my baby bump at a technical engineering conference I attended at five and a half months pregnant which was most strange indeed. I wasn’t sure how to react so I just slowly backed away while feigning a smile, not unlike how one might act when too close to a wild animal.

I’ve noticed that people have different techniques for this belly encounter, we have:

  • the “pat” – a few short taps on the part of your baby bump most convenient to them
  • the “rub” – a circular genie-summoning motion on the belly
  • the “touchy feely” – a full palm press, with occasionally two hands (one on either side of the belly) which upgrades this technique from “touchy feely” to the “belly hug”
  • the “belly hug” – two-handed grab of the belly in an apparent effort to either stabilize you from toppling forward or receive an actual baby into their arms

I have to say that the belly encounters really do not faze me (except in a professional setting), but I can understand how some women would really not like it. I just try to keep it in perspective that the person doing it means well and that they are participating in their own way in my pregnancy. That being said, I do not think it will ever feel normal to have a stranger reach out and touch my stomach, and I suspect I’ll become a bit more sensitive to strangers reaching out and touching my baby when the baby ventures outside the womb.

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