Does Pregnancy Make You Feel Touched Out?

During pregnancy it’s not uncommon for women to feel touched out at some point.

Pregnancy can be a very exciting time and brings many changes, some of which are new, confusing and completely unexpected. 

You might discover you can’t eat your favourite ice cream; you cry at the drop of a hat; or have incredibly vivid dreams. 

There are many wonderful and unexpected changes going on in your body during pregnancy. One of them you might find very surprising is to find you really dislike being touched. 

It can range from not wanting to be touched by strangers to avoiding certain forms of intimacy (like a kiss on the cheek). Some women feel physically ill in the presence of certain people. 

Other pregnant women find they become intolerant to certain people, including their partner. You might find this aversion to touch can heighten your interactions with people, leaving you feeling tense and anxious. 

 The difficulty is people are drawn to pregnant bellies and their desire to touch is often well intentioned. Often pregnant women think they’re being silly or feel guilty about not liking being touched. 

pregnancy touched out

It doesn’t help when people use language that makes you feel you’re public property. Family might say things such as ‘it’s not just your baby in there, it’s our grandchild’. A friend might say ‘but I never minded it when people touched my belly’. Strangers might comment on your size, their own pregnancy experience, or tell you horror stories about birth.

This increases your anxiety about allowing those people into your personal space. It’s ok to not like being touched but many of us never really question what’s behind this aversion during pregnancy.  

Why do I feel touched out during pregnancy? 

It’s believed your amazing pregnancy hormones change the way your brain deals with information. Feeling touched out during pregnancy can last weeks and months. 

Aversion is your primal instinct saying ‘no thanks, I don’t want that, I don’t like it’. It protects you from harm. Even though it doesn’t seem rational a person touching your belly could cause you harm, pregnancy hormones do fascinating things with deep feelings. 

Women are conditioned to accept certain behaviour is normal when they’re pregnant, and feel guilty that they don’t like it. Your response is a signal from a primal level in your body and mind.

Whether it’s a physical or emotional signal being triggered, spend some time honestly exploring your response to being touched. This can help you to connect with yourself on a deeper level, paving the way for more positive interactions. 

Here are 6 of the more common reasons why women feel touched out during pregnancy. 

#1: The lioness instinct

Many women feel very protective of their body and baby when they’re pregnant. You’re creating another human being and while that’s exciting, there’s also a lot of anxiety about doing it ‘right’. 

Should you be eating this? Is it safe to go to that place? Will you make a good mother? Are your needs being met? Do you have underlying fears about pregnancy or birth? You might be overwhelmed by information and advice, or feeling incredibly unsupported by those around you. 

Feeling on guard and anxious can heighten your lion mama heart. Seeing a hand stretching out to touch your belly can trigger a sense of protectiveness towards your baby. 

#2: Unresolved feelings

When there’s one person in particular who makes you recoil, it’s likely there are unresolved deeper issues and feelings with that person. This might be your partner, a close family member or friend. 

In a recent interview, Sarah says “Be observant about what’s happening…If you’re feeling really triggered, think what’s going on behind that reaction — there might be underlying emotional stuff that needs to be addressed.”

Going deeper into those feelings and working through them can benefit you. Carrying negative feelings during pregnancy creates tension in your muscles, disrupts your mind-body connection, and can show up during labour and birth.

#3: Past trauma and aversions

We know there’s a link between past experiences of trauma or abuse and touch aversion. This is something that may have happened long ago and is triggered by feeling vulnerable and anxious about being in control of your body during pregnancy.  

There may also be a buried memory of a personal or observed experience that has been linked to being touched during pregnancy. This can be triggered by a smell, a sound or feeling judged. Some women are body conscious, stemming from their early childhood experiences; which triggers an intense aversion to being touched.  

#4: You are still you

You may feel having your belly touched makes you feel less like a person and more like an incubator. Pregnant women are still women, yet there are people who think body autonomy doesn’t apply when a pregnant belly is involved. 

There is also the sense you’re not being seen for yourself as a pregnant woman. This can have a significant impact on your emotional wellbeing. Many new mamas feel they are forgotten in the excitement around the baby. This can lead to feeling isolated and without support, triggering a protectiveness or physical dislike to being touched. 

#5: Cultural differences

Different cultures have their own beliefs and traditions relating to pregnancy. When someone automatically reaches out to touch a pregnancy belly, they are ignoring the potential cultural differences.

In certain cultures there are customs and traditions about touching a pregnant belly that have negative consequences for the mother or the baby. Or strangers touching your belly can cause disapproval from your community. 

This can leave you feeling incredibly protective about being touched and possibly anxious about having to prevent it happening. 

#6: Sensory overwhelm

Even if this is your first baby and you don’t have other children constantly

 

grabbing you, there’s a baby inside of you and this can lead to feeling touched all the time. 

Often it’s a beautiful feeling, knowing you’re never alone. But pregnancy can make you feel super sensitive to sensations and touch. This is commonly known as feeling touched out. 

Feeling touched out often happens when too much is going on, your senses are overwhelmed. A person rubbing your belly can be the last straw andtrigger a physical feeling of aversion. 

What can I do about feeling touched out?

We’re hardwired to want contact with other human beings. Being pregnant doesn’t make this less so, rather it increases our need to be connected with our community. 

Talking about it to your partner, family and friends can help them to understand it’s not about them. Feeling touched out during pregnancy is usually temporary. Their respectful and sensitive understanding can help you to feel connected and safe. 

If overwhelm is a trigger, bring some awareness on how you can take care of yourself. This can be simply getting enough sleep, eating well and spending some mindful time in the fresh air and sunshine. 

You may need to learn to ask for and accept help when you need it. Self care or self love is a common phrase we hear today, but it’s an important reminder to prioritise meeting our own needs. 

Overwhelm can be a sign of something deeper. Having a trusted support person such as a doula can help you explore and create space for working through concerns, such as fear around birth or anxiety about your baby’s wellbeing. Therapies such as yoga and massage can also help you restore a positive connection with your body. 

You don’t owe strangers free access to your body, under any circumstances. The way you feel about being touched might not change. Being aware of your aversion to touch can empower you to respond to someone’s intention to touch you without feeling guilty or ashamed that you don’t like it. 

Find out more about Nurtured Birth and the services we offer that may support you through pregnancy here.

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth

Top 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Online During Covid-19

Nurtured Birth is now offering our prenatal yoga classes online with Zoom so we can continue to support expectant families during the Covid-19 pandemic. To book your place in our online prenatal yoga class click the button below. 

WHEN: Every Tuesday  6:15pm till 7:30pm

COST: 15+gst

 

2020 is shaping up to be a very different year for all of us. As Covid-19 sweeps through communities across the entire world, we are left feeling apprehensive and uncertain about what the future holds for us. 

These feelings are enhanced for expectant parents. Not only do they worry about keeping themselves safe, but also about their unborn baby and the uncertain future they are bringing a newborn into. 

During this time of the unknown and of isolation it is more important than ever pregnant women have avenues of support, comfort and safety.

It is essential to find ways to draw the focus towards themselves, their pregnancy and the joys it brings, rather than the confusion of the outside world.

Prenatal yoga is a wonderful way for pregnant women to care for themselves and their changing bodies.

There are a variety of changes a woman experiences during her pregnancy; changes to the body, the mind and energy levels. Prenatal yoga is a great way to listen to, cope with, find support and connect positively with these changes.

Top 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Online During Covid-19

Pregnant women can practice yoga within the safety and comfort of their own home. Prenatal yoga online offers a calm and restorative therapy for the physical body and emotional state, supporting the flow towards a happy, healthy, pregnancy and birth. 

  1. Body & mind connection: improve your emotional state in these uncertain times

Taking stock of your current mental health is important when travelling through the trimesters of pregnancy. It helps you to understand what areas of your life are overwhelmed and when you might need support. 

Prenatal yoga brings about a mind-body connection as it includes working the physical body alongside the mental and emotional being. The deep breathing and mindfulness exercises used in prenatal yoga promote calmness and ease the emotional ups and downs pregnancy brings.

Attending regular online classes is a way of forming routines and this in turn helps us to feel in control of our own lives and destiny.

Prenatal yoga helps to release ‘feel good’ endorphins that lifts our mood and energy levels. This improves your state of mind during these uncertain times. 

  1. Physical fitness and strength: happy and healthy, prepared for birth and beyond

Prenatal yoga can not only enhance the mind-body connection but also supports your changing body. You learn how to listen to your body, work within your body limitations, and trust your body. 

We know exercise in general improves your physical fitness. During pregnancy you can continue your normal exercise regime, being guided by your body, your trainers and health professionals, making adjustments as your pregnancy moves forward.  

Even for those who don’t do regular exercise, prenatal yoga is a gentle way to allow you to strengthen your muscles to support your body during pregnancy, prepare for birth, and assist in recovery postnatally.

During pregnancy, changes in your body can happen quickly and your body can need help adjusting and accommodating. Prenatal yoga offers pregnant women optimal ways to stretch and strengthen their muscles to support their growing belly, improve circulation and flexibility.

Prenatal yoga eases common pregnancy complaints such as headaches, back and joint pain, shortness of breath and insomnia. It is important to keep core, abdominal and pelvic muscles strong during pregnancy. Keeping these areas toned and functioning helps support the body, as well as assisting the birth process and recovery after birth.

Even during Covid-19 isolation it is still important to focus on our health and fitness. Our society may be slowing down but pregnancy doesn’t stop or slow down so keeping yourself well is vital. Prenatal yoga is available online so you can continue with your exercise program.

  1. Breathing techniques: what you learn in pregnancy, carries through to birth

Prenatal yoga improves muscle tone and leads you to understand where tension is held in your body. Prenatal yoga teaches you to practice simple breathing techniques to release and let go of tension, especially on days when the current situation seems overwhelming.

Learning and practicing breathing techniques can help assist with reduced lung capacity during pregnancy and in lowering blood pressure.

Breathing techniques practiced during prenatal yoga can be carried through to birth. When in labour, focusing upon your breath cycle and using practiced techniques allow for a smoother and more positive birth experience.

  1. Mum and baby connection: build a bond and prepare to meet your little one

Regularly attending prenatal yoga classes is an act of self-care and a reminder to let go of the stresses of life and focus inward to bond with your developing baby.

Engaging your senses and developing an awareness of this little human living inside your body begins the connection. The pregnant woman can use techniques to visualise their baby and grow this connection.

This is important as the connection will continue between mother and baby during labour and bonding after birth. 

As your belly grows, prenatal yoga helps you learn and appreciate the amazing work your body is doing: growing and nurturing your baby.

  1. Connection with others: building community and support 

Although we are in isolation we do not need to feel isolated. A regular prenatal yoga class creates a sense of community and connects you socially with a support network that continues after your baby is born. 

Nurtured Birth’s prenatal yoga teacher Lanie shared:

I love that we are still able to offer something during this challenging time. It can be so isolating and I worry about expecting mums having to be without all the usual activities that support their growing pregnant bodies. Although it is not my preferred way of teaching, as I do love teaching in the studio and being with people in person getting to know each of the students, I do understand that we all have to be adaptive in this current unprecedented situation.

Prenatal yoga online is a wonderful opportunity to bond with other expectant mums, forming friendships and the beginning of a valuable support network.

To begin enriching your pregnancy journey with prenatal yoga online, please contact us or visit our prenatal yoga page for sign up for yoga classes. 

All prenatal yoga classes during Covid-19 will now be online using Zoom until further notice.

Author: Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth