A Slap in the Face of Motherhood As Midwives Told to Stop Using These Terms ASAP

6 min read
A Slap in the Face of Motherhood As Midwives Told to Stop Using These Terms ASAP

In a shocking move, Midwives have been told to stop using terms like “mothers”, “breastfeeding” and “maternal” as part of a new trans-friendly language policy.

Staff at UK hospitals including, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust have been told to substitute the common terms for the phrases “mothers or birthing parents”, “breast/chestfeeding” and “maternal and parental”.

Gender-inclusive language

Instead of saying “breastmilk”, they are encouraged to refer to it as “human milk” or “breast/chestmilk” or “milk from the feeding mother or parent”.

Other changes also 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”

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”.

 Midwives Told to Stop Using These Terms ASAP | Stay At Home Mum

The new policy

The policy reads: “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.

“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 on social media 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.

Australian hospital introduces similar policy

Just a week after the UK policy changes, staff at Australian National University in Canberra have also been asked to stop using the word ‘mother’ and instead say ‘gestational parent’.

They have also requested that fathers be referred to as the ‘non-birthing parent’ and ‘breastfeeding’ to be replaced with ‘chestfeeding’.

‘Mother’s milk’ was also said to be replaced with ‘human or parent milk’.

Staff have been asked to ‘correct’ themselves immediately if they accidentally use the wrong terms.

‘While many students will identify as “mothers” or “fathers”, using these terms alone to describe parenthood excludes those who do not identify with gender-binaries,’ the handbook reads.

Welcome change for some…

The changes have been welcomed by gender-inclusive campaigners saying they hope to see more hospitals follow their lead.

Campaign group TransActual tweeted: “This is fantastic, well done. Let’s hope many more trusts follow suit. Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Not so welcome for others…

 Midwives Told to Stop Using These Terms ASAP | Stay At Home Mum

All mums deserve to be treated individually..

The new policy states that staff should not stop using the word “woman” or other terms describing motherhood, but they should consciously start adding in the word “people” and other more inclusive language.

I hope they do still keep it personalised and suitable language for each patient and their own circumstances. It is getting so ridiculous and so damn tiring with the need to constantly worry about labels and being so PC all the time.

While I understand that the trans-community are welcoming this change, does it have to be a blanket change for everyone?

I feel like this is a case of equality being pushed too far and it ends up becoming inequality.

One of the most precious things about being born a female (Cisgender) and discovering you are pregnant and then having your baby after 9 looong months of pregnancy and 12 looong hours of labour, is when they finally hand over your little bundle of joy and refer to you as “Mum or Mummy”.

A Slap in the Face of Motherhood As Midwives Told to Stop Using These Terms ASAP | Stay At Home Mum

Lots of women have waited their whole life just to be a “Mother”, why take that experience away from them?

As one our SAHM team members, Nic said: “I am pretty sure that when I was pushing out my 9 pound 5 boofa headed boy, I was not concerned about any of that!! And I like being called a mum.”

And don’t get me started on the breast milk thing…. It’s milk. And it comes from a breast. Let’s just call it what it is!!

Other women have shared their similar thoughts on social media in the wake of this announcement saying:

“Erasure of women again. I’m actually glad that this nonsense is being published though. More people will be outraged and despair anyone’s feelings on the daily fail, if they get people up in arms about this utter codswallop.”

“But surely they are intelligent enough to just ask a family what they would prefer and surely even in the woke capital that is Brighton, the majority are still man, woman, woman having the baby.”

“It’s not okay to be hypothetically offensive towards trans or non binary persons but very much okay to be actually dismissive and offensive to women who have been accepting of being women since birth.”

If I was pregnant, this is now the last place in the world I would go. Because I’m a WOMAN. Who wants people taking care of me in pregnancy to understand and believe in biology and science. You guys have lost it.”

A Slap in the Face of Motherhood As Midwives Told to Stop Using These Terms ASAP | Stay At Home Mum

“Yay, erasing motherhood one sparkly tweet at a time.”

“A slap in a face to real women.”

“People born with female reproductive organs give birth. I know it’s easier to cut out a minority of people, but it’s not very nice.”

How do you feel about the policy? Would you like to see it introduced in all Australian hospitals? 


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Tracy Hardy

Tracy has been a digital content writer for over 10 years and a crazy mum of two boys for nearly 17, so be gentle! The teen years are rough! Beach lov...Read Moreer. Terrible housekeeper. Tea drinker. Wine sipper, who sadly can't eat cheese or ice cream. Life is cruel! Read Less

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