It’s a classic pregnancy pose: a mother stroking her belly, with a Mona Lisa smile on her face.
Surprisingly, a mother rubbing her bump in public can bring on controversial reactions.
People wonder if women do it for attention or if the growing baby can even feel it from the inside.
You might rub your belly for many reasons: protectiveness, communication, or just to push that little foot out of your ribs.
The team at BellyBelly think, whatever the reason and wherever you are, you should go ahead and rub your tummy!
Can my baby feel when I touch my belly?
After a certain point in pregnancy, babies can definitely feel and even enjoy the touch from their mothers.
In the first trimester, the baby is deep inside your abdomen and surrounded by a lot of amniotic fluid. Her body is tiny and still developing, so it’s unlikely she has any awareness of the outside yet.
However, big changes happen in the second trimester, which allows your little one to feel touch and respond to it.
Researchers have discovered babies as early as 21 weeks gestation show a response to their mother’s touch from the outside. In this study, researchers used ultrasound and watched fetal movements and heart rate increase when the belly was rubbed.
The study showed when mothers touched their tummy it produced a range of responses from the fetus inside.
This connection between mother and baby is perhaps the secret behind that Mona Lisa smile in pregnancy. A mother knows all along her baby can feel her touch.
It’s exciting of course to have science prove the things parents already believe to be true.
And it’s confirmation that bonding and connection begin in the womb.
Do babies like it when you rub your belly?
Another study suggests this in utero touch and bonding can have lasting effects on the baby’s temperament. Regular gentle touch means a more easygoing baby.
If that’s not another strong reason to rub your belly during pregnancy, I don’t know what is!
For more ideas on ways to connect with your baby before birth, check out Bonding With Your Unborn Baby – 12 Tips
Can babies in the womb sense their father?
The truth is, an unborn baby can feel a touch from anyone, but babies start to show a preference for touch that’s familiar.
Pregnancy is a time for babies to get to know the people who will be important to them in the outside world.
Your partner might get an exciting reality check just to feel a kick or movement from the outside. The baby suddenly becomes tangible and it’s common to wonder, ‘Does my child know it’s me?’
How can family members bond with baby before birth?
The more your partner touches your tummy during pregnancy, the more familiar that touch becomes. This increases the bond for the whole family.
Dads and siblings can all add their voices and join in. It’s been shown newborns recognize songs, after birth, that were sung to them in the womb.
If you have chosen it already, use your baby’s name when talking to your little one.
Touching while talking or singing to the baby will build a strong sense of familiarity, even before the baby is born.
The baby might even respond with playful pushbacks.
Dads can press a protruding part and see the baby roll to the other side. Older siblings trying to climb on their mother’s disappearing lap may find baby brother or sister kicking back!
Often the opposite happens. When you feel the baby kicking and quickly put your partner’s hand on that spot to feel it, the baby goes quiet.
Why does a baby stop moving when somebody touches your belly?
Only the baby truly knows the answer to this one!
My husband’s hands are always very warm, even in the dead of winter, and my babies seemed to hold very still whenever he touched my belly.
We joked that his body heat made them sleepy. This was useful later when we were dealing with a fussy newborn. I’d hand them to him and he would use his magic warming hands to rock them to sleep.
Can I hurt my baby by pressing on my stomach?
New parents are often concerned about whether pushing or prodding will hurt the baby or damage anything within.
Chances are, rubbing your baby bump is much more likely to create comfort than cause harm. It’s similar to a massage.
Of course, if you’ve experienced a big impact from a fall or an accident, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare professional to make sure everything is okay.
Your body is designed to protect your child from the normal wear and tear of life. Your muscular uterus and the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby will cushion her from impact or injury.
Why does my baby move when I touch my belly?
But what about you? How does your body feel with a new life developing inside?
There might be feet under your ribs, and little fists punching your bladder.
As a growing baby takes up more space, rubbing might be a necessary way to coax the baby out of a painful spot.
Your little one might favor one side of your body or constantly kick the same area until it’s sore.
Your response can have a positive effect on you and baby, gently shifting out of the uncomfortable positions and strengthening the bond.
Does rubbing my belly really matter to baby?
As we’ve learned from studies and from natural instincts, there are lots of good reasons for women to touch their tummy in pregnancy.
Rubbing your belly can:
- Create a special bond
- Start a pattern of playfulness
- Introduce baby to other family members
- Help you get familiar with fetal positioning
- Increase the chances of calm newborn temperament.
Although each child and each situation is different, all parents can connect with their children before birth through the power of touch.
The benefits show us that bellies really are for rubbing.