Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

It’s All About Your Personal Space

DEAR NATALIE: I'm almost eight months pregnant and have definitely "popped." While I am used to the cooing and the asking of questions - "When are you due?" "Is it a boy or a girl?" "Have you picked out a name?" etc. - I'm not comfortable with total strangers or even acquaintances coming up to me (men and women!) and feeling as though it is OK to rub my stomach, pat my stomach, talk to my stomach while touching me, etc. How do I politely tell people that my body is not public property just because I am pregnant? -- One Mad Mama

DEAR ONE MAD MAMA: You have every right to feel violated and uncomfortable with anyone assuming it is OK to touch your body. It's like you've become a genie and your belly is a magic lamp or something. Do they think you are going to grant them three wishes? I don't think people mean anything by it, but they are ignorant to the violation of your personal space. The next time someone starts to reach out to touch you without your consent, feel free to put your hand on your stomach and say something like, "While I appreciate your enthusiasm, I don't feel comfortable having anyone touch my body." If they act hurt or confused, remind them that they wouldn't like it if you just randomly started stroking their stomach or cooing into their abs. Also remind them that you are feeling even more protective of yourself due to your current status, and you are sure they would understand. I swear, people forget themselves when they see pregnant women or puppies. 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)