Hands off the Bump! Are pregnant women public property?

By Karen | August 28 2012 | 50 Comments

A FRIEND of mine is seriously considering buying an oversized sweater with the words ‘Hands off the Bump’ on it to protect herself from annoying strangers rubbing her baby belly.  It seems once you become pregnant you become public property and people are allowed to assault you whenever they wish.

My friend’s most recent incident was last Friday, in the bank. There she was in the queue, minding her own business when a total stranger turned around and grabbed her bump, stroking it feverishly.

‘Ah Jaysus, you must be ready to drop!’ sez the oul wan, grinning like a loon.

‘Er, no’ spluttered my friend, a beautiful, slim, size eight girl, who is only about 20 weeks pregnant. She is nowhere near ‘ready to drop’ – vile expression – and this gobshite had no business putting her hands anywhere near the bump.

Yet she thought nothing of it, and according to my pal, it wasn’t the first time and neither will it be the last.

It’s not just the bump that comes in for attention when you’re pregnant though. I remember my sister-in-law telling me about queuing up for a coffee in Bewley’s while about seven months pregnant with my niece and being harassed by a woman in the queue telling her not to have the coffee.

Needless to say my sister-in-law got her coffee much to the disgust of the woman shooting daggers at her across the room. Why was it any of her business?

Similarly, there was a discussion on the TV3 panel show Midday recently where the issue of pregnant women smoking came up. One of the panelists said that whenever she saw a pregnant woman smoking she approached her and voiced her disgust, telling the pregnant woman to stop smoking.

Regardless of the fact that this panelist didn’t know the pregnant woman and that it was none of her business whatsoever, she still felt the need to voice her opinion. Why?


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50 Replies to "Hands off the Bump! Are pregnant women public property?"

  • le smurf says:

    Oh God why do people do this. it’s such a case of space invasion when I see people manhandle pregnant ladies! I have never felt someones baby bump and nor would I want to….
    Leave them alone I say!

  • niamhygiggles says:

    I think I’d stroke the other persons belly and ask them have they had a bowel movement today yet. Just for funs like……

  • EmmaCat says:

    There is absolutely no excuse to manhandle pregnant women! And it’s rather irrelevant what your opinion on women having a coffee or a smoke is to them, they’ll carry on regardless (btw, no problem with the odd coffee when you’re preggers. really isn’t.)

  • LynnieDoll says:

    When I was expecting with LittleDoll, friends had a touch of the bump and to be honest I didn’t mind because they were friends and were loving sharing the experience with me. It didn’t happen often!!
    However; I would have objected to a total stranger coming up to me and touching me! That would scared the bejesus out of me. Not on, and as for people commenting at them. Mind your own beeswax!!! Nothing to do with them.

  • Sooz says:

    I don’t know why people feel the need to pat your bump or pass comment? I do think it is mostly well meant though? I didnt get the stroking my bump much, thank goodness, but the comments; oh youre so big/small/neat/high/low etc

    It got to the stage that peole no longer looked at my face, when I walked into a room or took off my coat the daily comments would begin!

    I had to keep reminding myself people meant well….. but sometimes I would love to tell people to shut up and mind their own business!

  • Ems says:

    Am 7 months myself and everyone has an opinion ..that they really want to share with you. At length. Like ‘ Oh you’re huge’. What can you say to that? ‘umm, thanks. Can I pass comment on your weight while I am here?’ or ‘ OMG, I’m pregnant, thanks for pointing that out, never would have known’. Some people have bump induced memory loss and say things like ‘ Oh you are so much bigger than I was’. Err, thanks but no, you put on 4 stone by this stage. The random bump touchers are pretty bad though.

  • Diz says:

    I must say nobody did this to me for either of my pregnancies. Maybe I exude ‘touch me and you get a slap’ vibes. The only time I got ‘helpful’ comments was on how to handle a tantruming toddler (I opted to ignore) which I rapidly responded with ‘Mind your own business’.

    I think people are far too polite at such invasion of personal space. ‘Don’t touch me’ is usually a good response.

  • Dervla says:

    Oh no!

    Why oh why do people do this?! You don’t have the right to touch anyone, ever. I never touch a bump unless asked to, like to feel a kick or something. Also never, I repeat NEVER, tell a hormonal woman what she can or cannot put in her body

    Some people are grabby in general, I have had my boobs grabbed on many a night out from random strangers who “want to know if they were real or fake”

  • Niamhygiggles – I told my friend next time to grab the person’s arse and ask how they like it? Then just walk away, preferably after giving said arse a good squeeze!

    People are just weird when it comes to pregnant women and even babies. I remember being out with my niece in the buggy when she was quite young and a woman in the queue in front of us in Tesco turned around and said ‘Oh she is so cute!’ and then grabbed the child by the head and kissed her full on the mouth. I was horrified and shrieked ‘Don’t do that!’ and the woman got all insulted. This is how cold sores are passed! But apart from that it was a real invasion of the child’s privacy and disregard for me as her guardian. Personally I love babies and if a neighbour is out with their newborn or whatever I’ll go and say hello, but I NEVER touch without permission and if I do touch the child it’s always their little hand or foot. People just have no boundaries.

  • Lisa says:

    I must say nobody did this to me for either of my pregnancies. Maybe I exude ‘touch me and you get a slap’ vibes.

    Heh, me neither, mercifully. I think if any stranger started touching my belly there’d be violence. Though I have had randomers say things like “that’s a lovely bump”. Er, thanks, I grew it myself?

    Also thankfully haven’t been subject to the Pregnancy Diet Police (again I think because I possibly project “you will take this coffee/wine/sushi from my cold dead hands” vibes), but I have friends who have and it’s incredibly irritating. Not least because it’s often based on entirely inaccurate or half understood beliefs about what preggy ladies can consume: I’ve heard of someone being refused parmesan on a salad because “it’s an unpasteurized cheese and so it’s not safe for pregnant women”, despite the fact that parmesan is so hard and salty that there is absolutely no way it could give you pregnancy-endangering food poisoning.

  • papillon says:

    I’ve never done anything to a pregnant stranger nor has anything been done to me. I have to admit that whilst I wouldn’t say anything, pregnant smokers fill me with fury. It’s so harmful. And I’m very laid back about all the rest, coffee, even a pink steak once it’s not bloody.

  • Naomi says:

    When I was pregnant with the little fella, one of my husbands friends became annoyingly obsessed with my bump. literally as soon as we broke the news to him and his girlfriend that I was pregnant he immediately proceeded to paw at my stomach. I say stomach because I was only 8 weeks pregnant and not showing at all!! I was horrified and very uncomfortable with it and immediately asked him not to do that ever again. However as the weeks and months passed, he completely ignored my protests and me swatting his hands away. I finally bought I maternity t-shirt in New Look that stated in big bold letters ‘ HANDS OFF THE BUMP!’ He STILL ‘ thought I was joking’! So finally my husband and I decided that whenever he mauled my belly, my husband would immediately go over and do the same to his non-pregnant girlfriend. Needless to say after both of them freaked out at my husband personal and physical intrusion, I stopped getting manhandled every time they saw me!!
    I have had a feel of 4 pregnant bumps in my life including my own, the other 3 were immediately related to me and invited me to do so, I would never ever just walk up to a stranger in the street and fondle their midriff, its a complete invasion of personal space, and to be honest if the person wasnt pregnant, could be considered assault!

  • fififinx says:

    I had it done a lot too (in NZ not Ireland, so I guess it’s an international phenomenon). Very quickly learned the best response was “When are YOU due?”. Really confused the feck outta the fellas…

  • gobo says:

    My mother recently said she remembers being small and hearing my grandmother and her friends talking about how you should smoke during pregnency so as to keep the baby nice and small. O_o This would have been in the sixties but clearly they knew the effect it was having. Mental. Also, what is it with the banks? A pregnant friend was recently in one and a woman wouldn’t leave her alone, touching the bump and saying she could give readings and the like- security had to speak to her!

  • Beth TV says:

    Ugh, ugh, ugh!! People, this is freaking me out; how on earth can strangers justify fiddling with a person’s mid riff? You don’t know the person for a start; you don’t know if they have complications; if they are sick or anything. Brrrrr, it’s not nice!

  • MilkyMoo says:

    I was feeling a bit sensitive about my sister constantly grabbing my bump the second she’d see me, so I started fondling her little pot belly in return and she never did it again without asking. It’s the fastest, most effective solution.

  • Edelmc says:

    I am due next week and although I haven’t had my bump touched by strangers I have had lots of comments about the size of my bump and my weight which drives me bonkers. Why do people feel that just cause you are pregnant they can randomly come over and tell you you are massive!

  • *Aisling* says:

    Eeeek please don’t hate me! I have never touched a bump, but I do congratulate people on theirs and tell them they look great. Not total strangers though of course – in bank queues and the like – I don’t know, it’s just such a happy thing and people are usually pleased when you do say it! OR SO I THOUGHT!

    *slinks off in shame*

  • Lisa says:

    even a pink steak once it’s not bloody

    Meh, even very bloody is fine if you trust your butcher/whoever handled your meat to wash their hands, pretty much anything will get killed off on the outside anyway when it hits the pan (why yes, I have indulged cravings for very rare steak with salad, I figure it’s my body telling me it needs iron or something). Hamburgers are much more dangerous if undercooked because any bacteria on the outside of the meat gets mixed through the burger. Really, if you follow the usual sensible guidelines about not getting food poisoning when you’re not pregnant you’re grand, ludicrous advice about microwaving the germs out of your ham sandwiches notwithstanding: I’ll eat soft cheese from Sheridans, I won’t eat soft cheese that’s been sitting round on a “deli” counter in Spar all day, etc.

    Smoking is a different issue because it’s *definitely* dangerous, not just a “might be a bit risky under these rare circumstances”. Ditto eating too much liver (vitamin A) or drinking litres of vodka…

  • I am casting my mind back over every second of my friend’s recent pregnancy and cringing at all of the times that I touched her tummy. I am a bad bad person.

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