Setting Healthy Boundaries

Sep 2 , 2023
By Eden Sahle

I am taken aback by the unwanted physical contact during pregnancy with people freely touching the bump without consent.

From family members to friends to distant acquaintances, they feel entitled to pat my baby bump which is uncomfortable. Personal boundaries seemed to melt away with what would have been considered assault if I was not pregnant became normalised as some boldly request to lift up my shirt.

I started to cover my belly with my bag to distract attention when I go out in public and would try to get my hands on my belly first trying to gently intercept their extended hand. Rarely was I successful though.

While I have learnt that these uncomfortable moments are typical when one is carrying a child, the unsolicited advice started rolling endlessly.

The assumptions about birth plans or parenting can be hurtful and demoralising, making one feel self-conscious.

The insensitive words about changing bodies and weight gain are hurtful and unnecessary. I am entitled to feel good about my body, even when it is changing, and to focus on my own needs and well-being during this critical time in my life.

Although comments about pregnancy and parenting can be well-intentioned, they can be inaccurate or outdated. People are quick to judge decisions and make others feel like they are unprepared.

I understand many people touch pregnant women out of excitement or curiosity, but they may not realise their actions can be unwelcome or even violate personal space. However, this behaviour is not acceptable. Healthy boundaries should be maintained.

Most people who ask intrusive pregnancy questions and give advice are doing so out of genuine concern and excitement, without knowing their questions or advice might be inappropriate and untruthful. People do not think tummy-grabbing and terrifying pregnancy stories can make expecting parents uncomfortable and scared.

The cons of pregnancy and childbirth are often heightened: losing my social life, the inseparable lifestyle with my husband and my former body and state of mind. Comments were made that childbirth and breastfeeding would be experiences I would not enjoy.

These negative predictions are hurtful and undue. They are based on the experiences of other people, which may not be the same as mine.

In all these, my husband and I are surprised that only a few people tell us about the joy of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Encouraging and uplifting advice is rare. We hear so much cynicism than optimism that could inspire and encourage new parents.

Every delivery is a unique and individual experience, but there are some things mothers can do to improve their chances of having smooth labour. Doctors suggest that mothers who frequently exercise, maintain healthy eating habits, and are mentally prepared are more likely to handle labour challenges smoothly.

Despite the varying opinions, women have been courageously giving birth for centuries. As the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easily, and bringing new life into the world is no exception.

Ultimately, setting boundaries and communicating needs can prevent unwanted attention and intrusive questions. It is okay to avoid uncomfortable situations.

As a mother-to-be, I am allowed to create my own journey of motherhood and focus on the positive aspects of becoming a parent.

I firmly believe that giving birth is a remarkable experience that will profoundly impact me for the rest of my life. I am determined to provide other expectant mothers with positive and empowering experiences to uplift them.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 02,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1218]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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