Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Mind The Bump: The Stranger Debate

A stranger touched my bump! I had heard that this would happen. People; friends, colleagues, our hypnobirthing teacher had all talked about how pregnancy gives strangers a free reign to touch your belly. That's not so say the
bump has been un-touched, my mum now greets me with two hands on the belly, and can regularly be found shouting 'hello it's Nanny' through my skin. Most people that I know have just ploughed on in there if they felt the desire to fondle the bump, as I had expected them to. Planted a hand on there while asking if it's kicking now. Then being surprised when baby gives them a little hello. But a few have been cautious. Felt the need to ask, or said nothing until I say 'feel it kick if you like?'. I get it, some don't like people touching them, but surely they're in the minority? You wouldn't ask before giving someone a little rub on the arm if they were sad, or ask before you shook someone's hand. Maybe it's different. I just worry that we're creating bump awkwardness in the same way that men are scared to offer women a seat, or hold a door open for fear of insulting their strength. 

Few people that I've spoken to that have experience in area think that the bump touching is a nice thing, 'beware the bump touchers', seemed to be the message. I thought I wouldn't mind, it's just friendly, isn't it? But I was waiting for the first strangers outstretched arm to finalise my opinion on the matter. I waited, and I waited, and I waited...at 29 weeks, with a very obvious football up my jumper, not one stranger had reached out for a pat. I started to take it a bit personally. Is my bump not touchable enough? The wrong shape? Am I giving out 'don't touch me' vibes? Then it happened. Last Saturday. I was buying some shoes...with laces. I know, silly! Anyway, I'm standing and the girl is sitting, my bump is literally eye height for her. So I'm talking to her about the shoe and trying the shoe on and she suddenly said 'you're pregnant, I didn't notice!' and with that her hand came towards the bump and gave it something between a pat and a rub. Less than a second, it was over before I knew it was beginning and frankly, it made my day! We shared a few more pleasantries, 'I'm due in December, yes it's lovely to have a Christmas baby, no I don't know what I'm having' and I moved on. Or rather skipped on. Once I'd wrestled with the bump to get my laces tied back up (I just can't find any slip-ons that I like). I was thrilled.

I don't know what all the fuss is about, I thought. But, replace that stranger with the managing director in our office, and it would definitely take a weird turn, so I do think it depends on who the outstretched arm is attached to. I wouldn't have welcomed it before the bump was fully formed and hard to the touch (touching my doughy 14 week pregnant belly would not have been welcomed), and I think with no prelude, perhaps, it would be a little (lot) weird, but generally, it's a friendly thing to do. In fact, I  think it's probably a natural human reaction. I certainly don't think shoe lady thought anything of it. It's impossible to do it with malice. So, finally speaking from experience, after my single stranger-touching-bump experience, I can now conclude that I am totally ok with it. Bring on the bump touchers!

What's your bump touching policy? I'd love to know! 


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