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  • Call It 'Chestfeeding': A 'Woke' Guide To A Gender-Inclusive Breastfeeding Experience

    We usually say breastfeeding mom, but it could be a lactating parent.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Call It 'Chestfeeding': A 'Woke' Guide To A Gender-Inclusive Breastfeeding Experience
PHOTO BY Shutterstock
  • There is power in words, and to use the right one in this time of “wokeness” and gender inclusivity has never been more critical.

    Recently, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), a worldwide organization of medical doctors dedicated to promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding, issued guidelines for the usage of infant feeding and lactation-related language and gender.

    This is in recognition “that not all people who give birth and lactate identify as female, and that some of these individuals identify as neither female nor male,” ABM wrote in its position paper co-authored by eight doctors.

    From breastfeeding to ‘chestfeeding’

    Words like breastfeeding now have more gender-specific terms such as “chestfeeding, lactating, human milk feeding,” while “breast milk” can have alternative terms that include “father’s milk, mother’s own milk, and human milk.”

    The ABM also wrote it is acting in support of the LGBTQI+ individuals and following the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) 2030 Sustainable Development Goal’ call to”  ‘end violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.”

    ABM said it will use desexed or gender-inclusive language to include those who identify as men, women, intersex, nonbinary, or gender fluid for its written materials.

    “…Our readership should be aware that the intention of our written materials, such as protocols and position statements, is to be inclusive of all breastfeeding/chestfeeding and human milkfeeding individuals. With individual families, it is important to ask about and use the pronouns and words with which they identify.”

    Inclusiveness in the time of COVID


    ABM’s position statement has triggered all sorts of reactions from different sectors. According to The Washington Post, the statement has “earned the ABM a ‘woke Olympics gold’ from The First, a conservative media outlet. There were also more than 300 stunned comments on the Daily Wire, including one that called the gender-inclusive terms’ demeaning and dehumanizing.’”

    If there’s any proof the world is adapting to gender-inclusive terms even in this time of the pandemic, one need not look farther than the Center for Disease Prevention and Control. It recommends COVID-19 vaccines for “people who are pregnant” and “people who are breastfeeding.”

    Gender-inclusive terms

    ABM has provided a table for alternative terms to traditionally used words for breastfeeding and human lactation. Here are some of them:

    Traditional term: mother, father, birth mother 
    Gender-inclusive term: parent, gestational parent

    Traditional term: breast
    Gender-inclusive term: mammary gland breastfeed

    Traditional term: breastfeeding
    Gender-inclusive term: breastfeeding, chestfeeding, lactating, expressing, pumping, human milk feeding

    Traditional term: breast milk
    Gender-inclusive term: milk, human milk, mother’s own milk, parent’s milk, father’s milk

    Traditional term: breastfeeding mother or nursing mother
    Gender-inclusive term: lactating parent, lactating person

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