DILEMMA: "My MIL won't stop rubbing my pregnant belly and I hate it. What do I do?"

It’s a dilemma that most women who’ve been pregnant have experienced: unsolicited touching of their pregnant bellies.

Whilst some women enj0y it, and others tolerate it, some find it extremely…problematic. On such woman, Chantelle*, called into to Mamamia‘s parenting podcast This Glorious Mess, to tell her story:

“My mother-in-law is a very emotional person, to the point that my husband and I feel like she is very child-like in some ways,” she tells podcast hosts Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo.

“But my problem is this: she loves to touch my stomach when I’m pregnant and I hate it. if someone asks me, that’s different. I’m in my third pregnancy and it happens every time.”

Chantelle explains that it’s become a huge issue between her and her husband.

“My husband says he will say something the next time he sees it, but it always happens when he’s not looking.”

“I have high anxiety towards this issue and we can’t agree on which way to tackle it. He wants to pull her aside when she next visits and tell her before she does it, but that could be really offensive, and lets her know we’ve been talking about her.”

This Glorious Mess discuss what a listener should do when her mother-in-law rubs her belly. Post continues after…

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But Chantelle is torn, because she genuinely dislikes and dreads the experience.

“It’s been so bad that one time we knocked tummies. She turned it into a belly-on-belly rubbing session. This time, she rubbed my belly when I was only 8 weeks along.”


Chantelle wants her husband to be subtle in approaching his mother, and would prefer him to wait for it to happen, and then then talk to her quietly. Clearly not sure about what to do, Chantelle asks TGM what their advice is.

Wainwright’s take on the situation is that it’s never OK to touch someone without asking their permission.

“I do ask, if someone’s a close friend of mine, and they’re pregnant,” she says. “I’d never touch someone I didn’t know well, or a colleague.”

The co-host also asks whether there is an assumed level of intimacy between mother and daughter in laws. Daddo says that the responsibility is clearly on the husband to address the situation with his mother.

“He needs to say, ‘Mum, stop.’ ”

Wainwright asks whether, realistically, he would be comfortable saying that to his own mother on behalf of his wife.

“If she asked why, I would just say, ‘because she’s pregnant and she just doesn’t like it’,” Daddo says. He also suggests saying, “She loves you mum, but it’s not you, it’s her.”

As Wainwright notes, it’s a delicate situation, and a difficult one. Her final advice is that the husband should be proactive and deal with the situation pre-emptively – even if it means the mother-in-law is offended.

“If it’s not addressed, it will build up the resentment, so it needs to be dealt with directly.”

What do you think? Has this happened to you? Or do you love to rub a pregnant belly of someone you care about? Tell us in the comments section below. 

* Name has been changed to protect privacy.