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Words that Matter

Here is the glossary of terms I have adopted into our shared communication throughout Balanced Breastfeeding to help parents confidently name and embrace how they are feeding their babies.

Glossary of Balanced Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding language can be confusing. Not everyone uses the same language around breastfeeding, which can lead to feelings of being “othered” when breastfeeding in a “non traditional manner.”  For instance, many times I have met lactating parents who pump and bottle feed and ask, “Am I breastfeeding?” Yes, they certainly are.

Here is the glossary of terms I have adopted into our shared communication throughout Balanced Breastfeeding to help parents confidently name and embrace how they are feeding their babies.

I encourage you, members of the Balanced Breastfeeding community, to adopt this language with us and teach others about it too. 

Hard Newborn Work to be done:

Breastfeeding – feeding the baby any breastmilk in anyway.

If your boobs make any milk, you are breastfeeding. If a baby eats any breastmilk, that baby is breastfeeding.

Nursing – directly latching onto the breast. We use this term to describe the “traditional” view of breastfeeding and help clarify that direct latching is one way parents can feed their newborn. 

Stimulation – A stimulation is an effective nursing session or a pump session.

A Feeding cycle may be a direct nursing session or pumping and bottle feeding session. 

Self-Care – the work only the self can do for one’s self

Breast-Care – work only the lactating parent can do

Postpartum Body Care – work only the postpartum parent can do

Newborn Care – about 12 weeks of unique, intense, care of the human you made 

The people doing the work: 

Lactating Parent – The parent that makes milk for the bab(ies).

Breastfeeding Support Partner – The person supporting the lactating parent and the process of breastfeeding. 

Sometimes this is the lactating parent’s partner.

Most assume this a man who uses he/him pronouns and calls himself “Dad.” But, of course it may also be a female who uses she/her pronouns and calls herself “Mom.” It may also be a partner who uses Nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns and calls themself “insert cool parent name here.”

Sometimes there is no partner, but every Lactating Parent needs a Breastfeeding Support Partner, just like every birthing parent needs a birthing support partner.

AND! There can be multiple Breastfeeding Support Partners! 

Breastfeeding family –  Everyone in the lactating parent’s household who will be affected by the life rhythm change that a newborn baby and breastfeeding will bring.

The Breastfeeding Community – the support network that holds the breastfeeding family.

How you are feeding the baby?

We try to avoid language that centers on what is lacking and rather use language that centers how you are able to feed your baby. 

How you feed your baby doesn’t define who you are as a parent. So, we try to avoid nicknames like “I’m a Low Supply Mom” or “I’m an Overproducer.”

We also try to use language that speaks from the “we” of the breastfeeding family, rather than the “I” of the lactating parent. Not only does it include the newborn person, but it includes the breastfeeding support partner, the support family, and the support community.

It is my hope that this also lets lactating parents feel a little less alone in the self-care and breast-care work of lactation only they can do for themselves. The burden of responsibility and intensity of work is too heavy to be carried alone.

“We hybrid feed” rather than “I hybrid feed”

Hybrid Feeding – Combination feeding breastmilk and formula, most often when the lactating parent’s breasts are unable to produce the volume of milk needed to sustain the baby’s growth

“I hybrid feed” rather than “I’m a low supply mom.”

Exclusively Pumping- no nursing, only bottle feeding. This lactating parent only expresses their milk by pumping, not by nursing. 

Bottle feeding- baby is able to drink milk effectively from a bottle, regardless of what milk is in the bottle.

In our realm, if you are exclusively pumping, or pumping instead of latching, you are still holding the possibility of latching. Once a lactating parent has made the decision to let go of latching, we use the term Exclusive Pumper.

The Milk Supply – the milk the boobs are making. How much milk your breasts make does not define your worth as a parent.Worth is not measured in ounces.
You are worthy because you are.

When describing ounces of milk breasts are able to produce:

Under average production – Daily Milk volume is at a deficit to baby’s daily needs to grow appropriately.

Balanced production –  Daily milk volume is equivalent and responsive to what baby’s daily needs to grow appropriately.

Over average production – Daily milk volume exceeds what baby needs to grow appropriately. 

Weaning – the gradual process of decreasing breastfeeding.

We both wean from the frequency and volume of milk the breasts are making and/or the frequency or duration of nursing.

Sometimes wean feels smooth, like the right thing at the right time. Sometimes weaning feels extremely emotionally painful and mentally tumultuous.

Lactating parents who nurse are most often faced with the dilemma of refusing the baby’s request to nurse in order to wean. Lactating parents who do not nurse are most often faced with the dilemma of safely and strategically allowing their milk supply to slow and stop.