Hands off my bump: Some workplace etiquette please!

When I was expecting my first child, it took me a while to adjust to that feeling of my body no longer being truly my own. The constant prodding and poking at my OB appointments, the scans and constant blood tests—it can all be a bit overwhelming! But one thing I was most surprised about was when people started lurching at my bump for a feel. A lovely nonna at the local market is one thing, but when it happened in the workplace, I was genuinely shocked.

If you are like me and don’t like your body becoming public property the moment your belly starts to round out, how do you handle it and politely say ‘hands off my bump?’

So, let’s go over some good old-fashioned workplace etiquette for those we work with who are expecting.

Hands off my bump
One of the worst things you can do is touch someone’s bump uninvited. It’s not like you’d generally go around touching people in the workplace. And just because there is a small baby growing inside, doesn’t mean it gives you permission to start. Many women actually don’t mind having their baby bumps touched, but the point is, you should always ask first.

Don’t comment on my size
It’s a lot to get your head around when your body starts to change and it can make many women feel quite self-conscious about how they look. So, don’t ask a woman who is expecting how much weight she’s put on or comment that she ‘looks huge’.

Other comments to also avoid are:

  • Was it planned?
  • Are you having a natural birth or c-section?
  • Are you going to have drugs during the birth?
  • Are you having a boy or a girl?
  • What names have you chosen?

The bottom line is ‘it’s none of your business’. So unless you are giving a fabulous compliment, it’s best to not comment at all.

No judgements please
There are many different opinions on what is right or wrong when you are expecting, so it’s best not to make any judgements. A good example of this is food or alcohol choices. If you are going out for a team lunch, make sure you don’t raise your eyebrows if your pregnant colleague has a glass of wine or orders a salad with soft cheese on it. It’s totally up to her to decide what’s right for her and her growing baby.

So, what can you do if you are pregnant?
If you are expecting, you should be prepared to respond to a few untoward advances from well-meaning colleagues. What can you do if someone lurches at your bump uninvited? You should just say ‘not right now thank you’, which should shut it down pretty quickly. Likewise, have some polite responses prepared to shoot back when colleagues over-step the mark and start offering unwanted advice.

It goes both ways. Conversely, you should not grab for someone’s hand and place it on your bump without asking.

It’s also good to keep in mind that being pregnant doesn’t mean you should overshare all of the intimate details of your pregnancy. So, please don’t talk endlessly about how many times you got up in the night to pee or that your nipples have changed colour. It’s TMI and you should keep it to yourself!

Written by the Circle In team.

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