To Be Inclusive of Non-Binary Parents, Hospitals Nix the Terms ‘Breast Milk’ and ‘Father’

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We’re living in the age of inclusion.

To that end, nurses are being asked to think before speaking — about nursing.

As reported by the New York Post, on Monday, two UK hospitals put the kibosh on “breast milk.”

Words matter, and the wrong ones hurt. Hence, medical workers are being asked to reference “human milk” — in order to include transgender and non-binary parents.

In the prenatal units of Sussex and Brighton University Hospitals NHS Trust, staff should eliminate words such as “breastfeeding.”


  • “breast/chest milk”
  • “human milk”
  • “milk from the feeding mother or parent”

The stated goal, as described in a 19-page document: to be more “inclusive of trans and non-binary birthing people without excluding the language of women of motherhood.”

Brighton and Sussex Maternity broke the news via Twitter:

Today, we are launching the UK’s first clinical and language guidelines supporting trans and non-binary birthing people.

Included images announced, “We are celebrating gender inclusion at BSUH Maternity Services.”


Today we are launching the UK’s first clinical and language guidelines supporting trans and non-binary birthing people. To celebrate the launch of our guidelines, we will be posting throughout the week about the work we have been doing to support trans and non-binary birthing people.

At BSUH, we are proud to care for trans and non-binary (including agender, bigender and genderqueer) people as birthing parents and co-parents and to celebrate and affirm their journeys to parenthood.

Onto the private parts:

We acknowledge the additional challenges that gender identity can have on pregnancy, birth and infant feeding.

We recognize the importance of providing inclusive, respectful perinatal care to all pregnant women and people.

It’s been a long time coming, and they want to ensure everyone’s safe:

This launch is the culmination of many years’ work. While we acknowledge that COVID-19 and its impact is a key focus for all NHS services, including maternity, it is also important that we continue our daily work of striving for safe and accessible care for everybody.

A February 9th post followed up:

Our approach has been carefully considered to be inclusive of trans and non-binary birthing people without excluding the language of women or motherhood. For further info about our additive approach to inclusive language, please see our language guide.

The directive lists a host of old terms and their superior replacements:

  • “Her” => May need to use “them” or “their” when replacing “woman” with “woman or person”
  • “Maternal” or “maternity” => “Maternity” or “perinatal” (this acknowledges that “Maternity” sometimes refers to terminology which it is not possible for BSUH to change at present)
  • “Maternal notes” or “maternity notes” => “Hand held notes” or “Antenatal/Labour and Birth Care/Postnatal Care Record”
  • “Mother/s” => “Mother/s or birthing parent/s” or “mothers and birthing parents”
  • “She” => May need to use “they” when replacing “woman” with “woman or person”
  • “Woman” => “Woman or person”
  • “Women” => “Women and people”
  • “Father” => “Parent” or “co- parent”
  • In the context of Antenatal Screening: “Father” => “Father or second biological parent”

Many online were enthused. Others had questions:

As noted by the Post, it all comes down to equality:

“As midwives and birth workers, we focus on improving access and health outcomes for marginalized and disadvantaged groups,” the hospital system said in a statement. “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.”

Our new era is giving birth — to a softer, gentler world.

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