Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine urges use of 'chestfeeding' and 'parent’s milk' in new guidance

A worldwide organization of doctors called the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine urged the use of "gender-inclusive language" such as "chestfeeding," "parent’s milk" and "human milk feeding" in new guidelines.

"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 in a document posted July 29.

Eight doctors and the organization co-authored the document on "infant feeding and lactation-related language and gender," and said that "the use of de-sexed or gender-inclusive language is appropriate in many settings."

One of the co-authors, Dr. Laura Kair of the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, said in a statement that, "language has power."

"The language that we use should be as inclusive as possible when discussing infant feeding," she wrote. "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."

Critics have slammed such language, including actress Kirstie Alley, who said she was "tired" of phrases "nullifying" women and their ability to breastfeed.

"I’m a little tired of the degrading and nullifying of women and their abilities. Breastfeeding is one of our abilities. It’s a beautiful and important ability. Knock off the nullifying of women fir the sake of lunatics. Equal rights does not equal insanity," Alley tweeted Saturday morning.

The guidance comes after President Biden’s administration used the phrase "birthing people" instead of "mothers" in a 2022 budget proposal, and other medical groups, Democratic politicians and universities employ such language.

"The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with an unacceptably high mortality rate for Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and other women of color. To help end this high rate of maternal mortality and race-based disparities in outcomes among birthing people," the 2022 White House fiscal year budget proposal, released in June, stated.


Ahead of Mother’s Day this year, Rep. Cori Bush used the phrase "birthing people" to advocate for the safety of Black mothers and their children.

"Every day, Black birthing people and our babies die because our doctors don’t believe our pain. My children almost became a statistic. I almost became a statistic. I testified about my experience @OversightDems today. Hear us. Believe us. Because for so long, nobody has," Bush wrote.

Bush's comments were lampooned by conservatives, as well as others who feel the term diminishes them.

"Birthing people" – you mean women or moms?," Republican South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace tweeted in response to Bush. "The left is so woke they’re stripping from women the one thing that only we can do."

"The rise of ‘birthing people’ and ‘chestfeeding’ follows a well-established pattern: Universities carry the terminology from once-fringe activist groups to the professional classes during what passes for their education. Graduates bring it with them to hospitals, law firms, big business and, of course, politics. A new consensus about apparently settled questions such as the definition of motherhood is established before ordinary Americans are even aware that new terms exist, much less that the liberal establishment wants to mandate their use," journalist Matthew Walther wrote in a May New York Post op-ed, titled, "Sorry, but they’re called ‘mothers’ — not ‘birthing people.’"

"‘Birthing people’" should be a line in the sand for all decent and rational Americans. It is not a question of so-called "political correctness," which is often a simple matter of politeness," he added.

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