NHS to spend £100,000 on scheme encouraging staff to refer to breastfeeding as 'chest-feeding'

20 December 2022, 14:43

Pregnant being given an ante natal check by a nurse.
Pregnant woman being given an ante natal check by a nurse. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

The NHS is planning to spend £100,000 extending a scheme promoting inclusion that teaches staff how they should speak to pregnant transgender men.

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It will encourage staff to opt for gender-neutral terms such as 'expressing milk' or 'chest-feeding' as opposed to breastfeeding.

An automated system will alert maternity staff to patients' preferred pronouns.

A pilot of the scheme took place at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust, The Sun reported.

The trust said on its website: "We understand the extra challenges that gender identity can have on pregnancy, birth and infant feeding.

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"We will provide inclusive, respectful care to pregnant people and their families.

"Our midwives’ role is to ­support a pregnant person’s journey through each stage of pregnancy, birth, and the early days with their baby."

NHS England have put out a £100k tender with the backing of Health Secretary Steve Barclay
NHS England have put out a £100k tender with the backing of Health Secretary Steve Barclay. Picture: Getty

According to the paper, NHS England, with the backing of Health Secretary Steve Barclay, have put out a £100,000 tender - a process in which businesses are invited to bid for a contact or contracts - to extend the scheme across the country.

Very little data is available on how many trans men have given birth in the UK.

A number of university courses that started this autumn have adopted the inclusive language in course materials or on their websites.

But critics have said the use of this language on midwifery courses runs the risk of 'dehumanising women'.

Northumbria University, which uses the inclusive language, told MailOnline: "While the vast majority of people who are pregnant and give birth will identify as women, we ensure that our programmes acknowledge that students may provide care for those who may not...

"This is in line with information set out in the NMC standards of proficiency for midwives."

But campaign group Woman's Place UK told the outlet: "Pregnancy and birth are experiences that are unique to women.

"Phrases such as "birthing people" and "childbearing people" reduce women to bodies whose sole function is to carry and give birth to babies."