Belly Etiquette: To Touch or Not to Touch?

Jul, 18, 2012


Pregnant women are beautiful, but pregnancy is also very personal. No one can help but be amazed by the miracle of a pregnant woman’s body, and in our society today, women often seem to want to show off am expanding belly (a far cry from the old days, when women tried to hide the fact that they were pregnant). But just because a woman chooses to reveal or emphasize her pregnancy doesn’t mean she wants strangers, or even friends, to touch her belly or comment in certain ways on the fact that she’s expecting. Here are some hints on interacting with pregnant women:

Do acknowledge the pregnancy, but not with a stare. Say something that will make the mother-to-be feel comfortable, such as, “When are you due? My wife just had twins,” or “Last year at this time I looked just like you!”

Do ask before touching, no matter how well you know the mom-to-be. Strangers should never touch a pregnant woman’s belly under any circumstance. But even if the mom-to-be is your friend, don’t touch her belly without asking. Pregnancy can be an emotional and difficult time, and physical contact can seem invasive. And moms-to-be, there’s nothing wrong with saying you feel uncomfortable being touched. After all, it’s your body!

Don’t ask personal questions, such as, “How much weight has you gained?” For all you know, she could be carrying triplets, have been through five rounds of fertility, or have miscarried twice. Less is more when it comes to questions.

Don’t share nightmare labor stories, such as “I was in labor for 40 hours, and it was horrible.” Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and

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