In a growing number of areas in the US, staff at hospitals and other organizations that cater to new mothers ask that words like “chestfeeding” be used — and are frowning on “mother” and “father” in favor of phrases like “birthing people.”
“‘Mother’ is the first word most babies will say and the word is often very similar in all languages [even] with completely different cultures, histories and backgrounds,” said Karleen Gribble, an adjunct associate professor at Western Sydney University. “The word ‘mother’ holds a lot of meaning. Using generic words for parents also makes it hard to advocate for maternity leave and paternity leave.”
A specialist in the study of what she calls“sexed language“and its importance, especially when it comes to new mothers and their babies, Gribble told The Post that the language around pregnancy, birth, lactation, breastfeeding and newborn care is being “desexed” as a result of politically correct policies not only in the US but in the UK and Australia — and it’s hurting poor and vulnerable mothers the most.
“If you can’t name [women or mothers] and if you have to use dehumanizing language like menstruators, uterus-havers and cervix-owners, it is all the more confusing and demoralizing, Gribble said.
The changes — especially in language and attitude — have trickled down to some mothers who are chafing at this new reality.
“We’re inventing all these new phrases for something natural,” Texas mom Elise Full, 34, a mother of three who is currently breastfeeding her 2-month-old, told The Post.
“I’ve been in the hospital and heard them refer to ‘chestfeeding’ and ‘human milk’ rather than breast milk. I’ve been asked by some medical professionals, ‘If words like ‘Mom’ were not used would you come back?’ — and I’ve said no,” Full said. “I am biologically a woman. I don’t understand why that’s up for debate.”