The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has issued guidelines that suggest employing such terms as “chestfeeding,” “human milk feeding,” and “parent’s milk” to promote what it calls “gender-inclusive language.”
The ABM position statement on “infant feeding and lactation-related language and gender,” co-authored by eight doctors and the academy, said that “the use of de-sexed or gender-inclusive language is appropriate in many settings.”
“ABM recognizes that not all people who give birth and lactate identify as female, and that some of these individuals identify as neither female nor male,” said the four-page document posted July 29.
Suggested “gender-inclusive terms” for “breastfeeding” include “chestfeeding, lactating, expressing, pumping, human milk feeding.” Alternatives for “breast milk” include “milk, human milk, mother’s own milk, parent’s milk, father’s milk.”
“Language has power,” said Dr. Laura Kair, one of the authors and medical director of well newborn care at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, in a statement.
“The language that we use should be as inclusive as possible when discussing infant feeding,” she said. “When working with patients it is best to ask them their affirmed terminology. When communicating medical research, language should accurately reflect the population studied so as not to mask research needs.”
The suggestions earned the ABM a “woke Olympics gold” from The First, a conservative media outlet, and more than 300 stunned comments on the Daily Wire, including one that called the gender-inclusive terms “demeaning and dehumanizing.”
The statement comes with the Biden administration doubling down on its preference for the term “pregnant people” instead of “pregnant women.” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday that the administration is now recommending novel coronavirus vaccines for “all pregnant people or people thinking about becoming pregnant.”
The administration was widely mocked on the right in June for using “pregnant people” in its 2022 budget proposal.
The ABM statement included a cautionary note about the use of “birthing people,” warning that it could be misconstrued.
“‘Birthing people’ may be substituted for ‘mothers’ so that nonfemale people are included, but this term would also include gestational carriers, gestational surrogates, and women whose infants are adopted by others, and such people may not fall within an author’s intended meaning,” said the organization.
The academy also said that its ability to use “gender-inclusive language” may be limited in other countries, but that “does not negate our recognition of and support for the diversity and complexities in the human experience of infant feeding and bonding.”