Reddit Post Goes Viral With Expectant Parents: 'Being Pregnant Doesn't Make My Body Public Property'

A pregnant Reddit user posts about an unexpected conundrum: Her mother-in-law's penchant for kissing her baby bump. And she makes an important point in the process.

When I was six months pregnant, someone pointed to my belly and said "oh, that makes sense" when I told them I was carrying twins—just a few hours after someone else commented that I was "too small" for that particular point in my pregnancy.

Nearly every pregnant friend of mine has experienced the famous uninvited belly rubs or touches; they almost seem like a rite of passage. And having a stranger at Starbucks ask if they can "feel a kick" right before telling you not to order anything with caffeine? Yup, sounds like a typical preggo encounter. People seem to think pregnancy makes your body fair game for unsolicited commentary, advice, and touching.

But here's one you probably haven't heard before.

Midsection Of Pregnant Woman With Hands On Stomach
Getty Images

"Ever since we told the family I'm pregnant, MIL has been very touchy and affectionate," a pregnant Reddit user posted. "Rubbing my belly all over every single time we see each other and baby talking to her grandchild. Now I really don't mind family touching my belly occasionally but I'm cool with a quick pat, hey little one. Not the straight up gropefest I get from MIL. But I never made her stop, not wanting to rock the boat."

But all that changed when the OP's in-law took it to a new level. According to the post, the in-law wrapped their arms around the baby bump and repeatedly kissed "the baby."

Now, understandably, this made the original poster (OP) incredibly uncomfortable. The OP mentioned this to her spouse, who shrugged it off and blamed his mother's excitement. And when the OP asked him how he would feel if her mother kissed his belly, he said, "Well it's different, you have a baby in there."

But here's the thing: It's not different. Because bodily autonomy doesn't fly out the window just because you're carrying a child. OP left her husband with this mic drop quote: "Just because I'm pregnant doesn't make my body public property."

This is such an important point. Look, we get the overwhelming excitement; after all, pregnancy can bring hopes and promises of a new little person. But we can't forget that it's still the pregnant person's body. It's not just a vessel to carry a child. It's not a piece of public property that you can comment on or touch without permission. And it's certainly not something you should ever put your lips on—unless, of course, the pregnant person invites you to.

Redditors appeared to resonate with the OP's story, sharing plenty of kudos, similar stories, and even advice. User DanBetweenJobs astutely pointed out that boundary setting may be the best course of action because, without it, the OP may be headed on a slippery slope of future problems with the mother-in-law.

"Great spine on ya! Yeah, define this boundary and stick to it," u/DanBetweenJobs wrote. "She sounds like the kind of over the top MIL/grandma who will take a mile for every inch given. Stay strong cuz this will lead to trying to get your baby to call her momma in no time flat."

Other Redditors were even blunter. ScarlettMaeWest wrote, "Your husband needs to get with the program. You are not an incubator for his mommy's doll. You need boundaries stat."

Some folks viewed the issue of pregnant body autonomy from a different perspective. For example, one Redditor pointed out that sometimes there may be a cultural difference, but that shouldn't ever overshadow a person's right to consent before being touched.

"Being from a different culture DOESNT excuse a lack of boundaries," wrote u/desgoestoparis. "I mean, even members of the SAME culture are still different people with different desires. You can not and should not assume that other people have the same boundaries as you."

And even a Reddit grandma chimed in on the debate. Redditor u/everyonesmom2 shared that "as a grandma and a mom it's disgusting when people point, pat, rub, anything a pregnant belly. If you wouldn't normally do it. Then why does pregnancy make any difference."

Still, others shared some practical advice to maintain boundaries. One Redditor offered a quick strategy to keep peace of mind when dealing with people who are crossing a line.

User feat-yaboy wrote, "Honestly just stay calm in moments like this and rather explain what makes you feel uncomfortable, speak about their actions rather than them as a whole person."

But if that diplomatic approach to discussing the issue doesn't work, u/boofmacaroni had a hilariously direct approach that may be worth trying:

"Stop calling it your stomach," u/boofmacaroni suggested. "Start calling it your uterus. I found that got people to stop being overly touchy while I was pregnant. 'MIL, please do not kiss my uterus.'"

And finally, a bit of wisdom from one user who strove to see the situation from a wider angle. User leogrr44 pointed out that it took courage for the OP to set a boundary, but it took respect from the in-law to abide by the OP's wishes.

"I don't think MIL meant any harm or was coming from a place of malice or manipulation though," the Redditor shared. "She is just very affectionate with her love. I'm sure that baby will be well loved, you two might just have to compromise and work on boundaries coming from two different backgrounds, just like you did."

So let's remember that pregnant bodies still belong to their owners and that we need to respect the boundaries of those owners. And if you ever feel uncomfortable with someone's actions? Well, you have every right to speak up for yourself just like this expectant parent did.

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