Midwives told to stop using terms like 'mothers', 'breastfeeding' and 'maternal' 2 years ago

Midwives told to stop using terms like 'mothers', 'breastfeeding' and 'maternal'

They are terms we all think of when we think of pregnancy, birth and motherhood.

However, these days, staff at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK have been told to avoid using phrases such as 'mothers' 'breastfeeding' and 'maternal' – as part of a new trans-friendly language policy.

According to a report in The Mirror, midwives at a hospital trust have been told to use substitute terms such as 'birthing parents' and 'chestfeeding' as part of a gender-inclusive language policy.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is the first in the country to formally implement a gender-inclusive language policy for its maternity services department - which will now be known as "perinatal services".

As well as the above, instead of using the terms "breastmilk" when speaking about nursing a baby, medical staff and midwives at the hospital can now choose from "human milk" or "breast/chestmilk" or "milk from the feeding mother or parent".

Other changes include replacing the use of the word "woman" with the phrase "woman or person", and the term "father" with "parent", "co-parent" or "second biological parent", depending on the circumstances.

"Gender identity can be a source of oppression and health inequality. We are consciously using the words 'women' and 'people' together to make it clear that we are committed to working on addressing health inequalities for all those who use our services," the new gender-inclusive policy said.

"As midwives and birth workers, we focus on improving access and health outcomes for marginalised and disadvantaged groups.


"Women are frequently disadvantaged in healthcare, as are trans and non-binary people... By continuing to use the term 'woman' we commit to working on addressing health inequalities for all who use our services.

"We also recognise that there is currently biological essentialism and transphobia present within elements of mainstream birth narratives and discourse.

"We strive to protect our trans and non-binary service users and healthcare professionals from additional persecution as a consequence of terminology changes, recognising the significant impact this can have on psychological and emotional wellbeing.

"Acknowledging the cultural context in which service development occurs is vital in making trans and non-binary lives safer."

In a statement released on Twitter, BSUH Maternity services said: "We want everybody who uses our services to see themselves reflected in the language that we use. This means not only pregnant women, but also pregnant trans, non-binary and agender people.

"Our chosen approach to inclusive language is additive rather than neutral."

The language changes will be implemented in the trust's webpages, leaflets and communications such as letters and emails, and staff will be asked to use language which reflects people's "own identities and preferences" when talking to patients.