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Ep 21: Chestfeeding, Bodyfeeding, Breastfeeding and a New Identity

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Oh, God, it’s good to be back. Oh, hold on. All right, we’re good. We’re going to do that again. Bring it on back. Let’s try something just a little fresher. Yeah. Let’s see what it sounds like.

Yeah. So if that wasn’t a clue for all of you, we are rebranding. Oh yeah. So we, Heather and I took a little vacay and it was glorious. It wasn’t really much of a vacation. Really wasn’t at all. We took a vacation from this so we could do a little thinking, couple of little phone calls and, you know, we had been really thinking, we kind of, as much as breast friends was funny, punny.

We like it. I don’t think it was quite where we wanted to keep going. Yeah. I mean, as we started to notice the collective average of all of the work that we were putting out, we noticed a theme and it really is in line with how we feel as teachers and just morally as people. And I think that we just really wanted a brand that came across as inclusive of everybody.

Right. And I think, you know, we also talked about making a little bit more of a conservative effort to continue to and expand upon the inclusive language that we use in episodes, in our marketing, things like that. So welcome to the newly branded Milk Minute! Milk Minute yeah. And a special thanks to Lindsey Brett Carothers for recording that intro for us, which we love.

And my brother did a little bit of beatboxing and bongo playing on the backend and we’ll post a little video of that dream team couple working together. They’re so adorable and in love. And yeah, and she’s actually been on Broadway and she was really great to do this for us. I mean, I was like, oh, by the way, would you mind if I exploited all of your God-given talents and come down here in the alcove and just sing about milk for just a few?

If she ever decides to have a baby, we can give her all of our help for nothing. I don’t know. I did make her watch a home birth video while she was down here and she grabbed my shoulder and like dug her nails into my shoulders. She’s like, oh, this makes me want to never have a baby. And I was like, oh really?

Hold on. I’ve got more videos. You’re like, did you say you needed birth control? I can provide that in so many ways. Like, I’m sorry. I was trying to be helpful, but apparently not everyone feels the same way about birth videos. Anyway. So thank you very much to our musical collaboration and keep an eye out on our social media.

Pretty much when this episode drops, we are going to drop it all. New logo, new name, new look, all of that. New merch. So good. Oh yeah. New merch. New merch. Which we don’t actually really have merch. I mean, we do have merch right now for our patrons only, but we are also going to have merch available to the public.

Yes, soon. It’s, we’re coming in hot with this new Milk Minute. Breast Friends was cute, you know, but as it turns out, it’s so cute that a lot of people like to use it all the time. And we also don’t want people to get confused. We want it to stand out. We wanted to do something that just felt a little bit more like us.

Yeah. And I do feel like it feels like we feel like it. So we want to ask you to take a minute today and talk about milk with us. Yes. Inclusively. On that note, I thought this would be a good opportunity to do an episode I’ve been really, really, really, really itching to do. And I wanted to talk about lactation in the LGBTQ community.

Yes. Let’s give a shout out to them. And I also have to say, even though I am pretty conscious about things that I say and language that I use, I still screw up all the time. And actually, Maureen is one of my go-to’ s when I’m like I think I’m screwing up in this way when it comes to using this language, how can I be better?

So like, we’re not perfect, but I know it’s a journey. You know, this is something I think about a lot cause it’s, you know, I’m a member of that community. It’s something I grew up as a part of it. But I get it. Not everybody’s thinking about that all the time. Not everybody’s surrounded by other people who are thinking about that all the time and that’s okay.

I’m really like all I ever ask and most people, all they’re asking is like, when you make a mistake, you’re like, okay, sorry, you move on. You change it. Yeah. You told me one time when I, when I said, you know what happens if I accidentally used the wrong pronoun in front of someone and you were like, well, what happens when you use the incorrect name with somebody?

You know, we were like, oh, Hey Bob, how’s it going? And then they’re like, my name’s Peter. And you’re like, oh gosh, Peter, you know what? I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. But, sorry. Yeah. And then you just move on and then you try not to make that mistake again. Yeah. We all just do the best we can.

But you know, considering that I did not grow up around a lot of LGBTQ, I had to really seek out this information for myself. And I think a lot of people are in that place where they’re just really looking for more information and they’re a little bit too insecure in the information to actually apply it in their life. Well, we can’t all go to Oberlin like I did.

Yeah. We can’t all go to Oberlin like Maureen, you know, some of us went to state school and just like did the best we could to not drink ourselves to death. We all did that. But you know, I did not really fully understand what chest feeding was when I first became a lactation consultant. So we are going to talk a little bit about that today too.

And I actually have a new one for you. Recently, and this was pointed out to me, some folks in the community prefer the term body feeding, and I love that. So that makes sense. Yeah, it makes, it makes a lot of sense. And you know, I have a lot of friends who are healthcare providers and, you know, they’ve asked like, should I always use the word chest feeding?

Should I always use the word body feeding? And my answer is no, no, of course not. Unless every one of your clients feels most comfortable with that term, you know? And it makes sense in your publications where you’re trying to reach all your clients to mention those terms to make sure your clients know that you know what they are, you’re comfortable using it.

But no, like if Heather’s my client and she’s saying, I want help breastfeeding, I’m not going to go and be like, well, when we chest feed, no, no, no. But yeah, because then you’re putting it on me and I’m like, oh God, I’ve been saying it wrong about my own body. Right. So that, and that’s not my job as a healthcare provider.

It’s not to tell you what language you should use to describe your body. You know, my job is to mirror the language that you feel comfortable using. Yeah. Yeah. I call them my, my boobies, my titties, right. My breasts. And I honestly I’ve had clients who are more comfortable with the word tit than breast. And that’s fine.

I had a client one time, that, this isn’t about breast, but she insisted on calling her vagina, her cookie. I mean, we could not not call it a cookie. And I was like, all right, whatever great. So, you know, in that vein, some people are more comfortable with the words chest feeding or body feeding or lactation, and kind of, most of that community would be the transgender community.

Right? And we have trans men and women, non-binary individuals, gender queer individuals, people for whom, you know, they might not feel comfortable with the word breast. It might trigger some dysphoria. They might not feel comfortable with the word breast because they don’t feel like what is on their chest, are breasts for them.

You know whether that means that is a new decision for them. It’s something they’ve always felt that doesn’t matter. That’s where they’re at now and we want to meet them there. Let’s just real quick sum up what transgender man and transgender woman means cause some people, I think don’t have that. All right.

We’ll do a little dictionary corner here. Oh, dictionary corner. Cute. Okay. So I’m just going to start with transgender. So this would be a person whose gender identity or expression does not match what the typical societal expectations of their birth assigned gender are. Whether or not these people want to change their bodies, that doesn’t matter. It’s how they identify.

Then we also have the word trans and that’s kind of an umbrella term to include all transgender, gender fluid people. It’s a little bit broader. And then we have trans women who we would refer to as people who now want to identify as a women. That’s how they identify, regardless of what their quote like birth assigned gender was.

And then trans men, people who now identify as men, regardless of what their birth assigned gender was. Sometimes we see this described as female to male transition, male to female transition. I don’t love that though, because like not everybody is fully transitioned, not at, yeah. The, the spectrum of transition is really large and it’s, it’s like if that’s how you’re most comfortable identifying, awesome.

But I don’t want to make any assumptions about where you came from, what you were before, your identity that you’re presenting to me now. And I don’t necessarily need you to justify or explain that. You tell me who you are right now, and we’re going to go with that. Yeah. And usually when you’re asking somebody for this information it’s information that’s going to be used in a healthcare setting, right, or to help them specifically with something that they need. It, we’re not labeling people because just because. You know, this is, you know, I’ve always said, I think labels are for soup cans. Right. You know, unless you really need to know this information, it’s really none of anybody’s business, but we’re healthcare professionals so that’s why we’re explaining this to everybody.

Yeah. And so, you know, the terms, chest feeding or body feeding are probably most commonly used for people who identify in the masculine spectrum, who are still going to feed their baby from their body. Who are still gonna lactate. So regardless of what kind of surgeries they’ve had, which FYI is none of your business.

So don’t ask and you know, but also some trans people still prefer the term breastfeeding or nursing. And that’s cool too. So the point with this isn’t that this is a new label you have to apply to everybody in a certain category. The point is that you need to be flexible and you need to respond to each patient as an individual and each friend as an individual, each family member.

Right. And if you see somebody post a picture on Facebook and they identify themselves as chest feeding, please do not make all kinds of comments like, oh, I guess this is just what we’re going to have to use now. We have to include everybody. It’s not, that’s really rude. And you know, consider the fact that that person is really proud of themselves in that moment and really, really strongly identifying with who they actually are. And by you making a comment like that, you’re basically saying, you know, I don’t appreciate who you are as a person, and I’m making fun of you and that makes you bad. And we’re not cool with that here.

No. See yourself out of the Milk Minute, please. Yeah. Like, you know what we like our whole thing is how, how can we be the most supportive that we can and help you through with the choices that you want to make? You know, and in that vein too, I want to say, if you are a trans person who has decided not to use your body to feed your baby, for whatever reason, you know, a lot of people make that choice because the experience of feeling their mammary glands change and feeling that milk is way too dysphoric for them.

It, it really can mess with you mentally if you’ve been expressing, say a masculine identity and all of the sudden you have these things happening to your body that are very, well considered very feminine by the society you live in. Like that can feel fucked up as hell. So if you choose to suppress lactation and bottle feed your baby, good for you. You know, that’s okay.

You know, and we also have people who might be trans women who are going to choose to induce lactation because FYI, every human has the ability somewhere deep inside to lactate. It’s amazing. It’s really cool. You know, if you’ve got nipples, you can probably get some milk out of them. However, that might require some hormone therapy.

Probably, yeah, and definitely a lot of hard work, but it’s totally possible. Some people have completely wowed us at their ability to produce like way more milk than we expected. You know, typically when we try to support trans women in lactation, we’re, we’re kind of like, we don’t really, we don’t really know what to expect.

We don’t have a lot of studies on it. We’re just going to be happy with anything we get. Some people fully lactate and fully feed their babies and we’re like, fuck yeah. Amazing. And email us and tell us all about it at our new email address. Yeah. So, you know, there’s that option too. And I want to mention too, if you, if you are a person who has had top surgery that doesn’t necessarily exclude you from chest feeding or lactating.

It kind of depends what sort of surgery, what the methods were. You know, we kind of lump that into any chest surgery at all like when, when we’re talking about any surgeries you’ve had near your mammary glands, really, if those ducts are still intact and you still have some glandular tissue, you can probably still lactate.

And also even if you are not planning to exclusively feed your baby with your body, your baby can still do non-nutritive sucking, which is great. It’s a great bonding experience. And you know, just the same as your partner can do skin to skin, regardless of the status of their body’s ability to feed the baby, you know, babies just want to comfort themselves and, you know, know that you’re there and that’s completely fine as well.

Yeah. And it’s okay for cis men to also let their babies non-nutritively suck. That’s okay, too. Everybody can do this. Everybody can let their babies suckle. If that’s what they feel comfortable with. Yeah. It’s pretty, what we’re saying is it’s not gross. If it makes you feel good, if it makes your baby feel good and it’s not hurting anybody go for it.

Yeah. And I do want to say that, you know, I think one of the big challenges for people in the LGBTQ community, in having babies and lactating is that it’s hard to find supportive healthcare professionals. So, first of all, there are a ton of Facebook groups out there that, you know, are kind of regionally based and that organize around this. You know, and it’s really just like, here’s the midwives that are down.

Here’s the OBs to go see, you know, here’s the person that’s going to help you with this. So then I want to point out there is kind of a more national database, the GLMA Database. And it’s healthcare professionals that are working toward advancing LGBTQ equality. That database, you know, I mean, that’s an advocacy group that works for healthcare equality for LGBTQ individuals, and they have a database where you can search for doctors who’ve registered specifically because they want to reach out to the LGBTQ community.

Yeah. And this is really important just for those of you who may not know. The provider’s education and experience with even charting on a transgender person is really important because they teach themselves. We actually, as providers can really fuck that up for people, because there are some trans people who got surgery overseas and they now get hormone replacement in the United States for something other than transgender or gender dysphoria and it’s not covered anymore, if it is for gender dysphoria. Right. It totally depends on your health insurance provider. So we have to be careful about what we write in the chart and always ask the patient, like, is there a specific thing that I’m not supposed to put in here?

Because once it’s in there, it’s either a pre-existing condition or it’s not covered because it’s now under an uncovered category. Yeah. It’s definitely something we need to be really sensitive to as healthcare providers. You know, healthcare providers need to be sensitive to the names that their patients want to be called and identified as, whether or not those are still their legal names.

It’s a topic that I wish more healthcare providers gave a shit about, to be honest. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of them want to. Right, I think. But it’s not readily available. It’s not like in your face and we, there’s not, it’s not taught in med school. It’s not, that’s dumb. And then also there’s just not a huge amount of patients that are affected by this. So it’s not like you can get good at it when you’re seeing one patient every five years. Unless you work at a specialty clinic. Exactly. But you know what? Things are changing. You know, I have a friend from college who is specializing in trans healthcare and he’s a doctor and it’s great. No way!

Yeah. You know, that’s a good example of people in our generation who are trying to meet that need, you know. Because we see it. It’s a need. There’s a population of people who need something and we’re like, fuck. Yeah, we want to help you. I’m sure there are some nurses or other lactation professionals out there who are just like, whoa, this is so overwhelming.

Where do I even start? Seriously? Like, you start at the same place as you always do with every client. Who is my client? What can I do to make them feel comfortable? What’s their lactation goal? How do we help them meet that? Right. Because it’s not actually about you at all. It’s about the patient. Get the job done.

You’re there to do a job. What do they need? Yeah. Is your, is your client’s goal to suppress their lactation? Cool. We know how to do that. Is it to fully feed their baby with human milk? Yeah, we can do that too. Yeah. Is it to use a hybrid feeding method? Well fuck yeah. We’re really good at that. Supplement with some non-nutritive sucking? Right.

Whatever. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, you just reminded me a lot of people who maybe want to feed their babies from their body but aren’t quite able to meet that need whether that’s because they had top surgery, whether it’s because they don’t have enough glandular tissue for another reason. We have these cool things called the supplemental nursing system.

They’re messy, but they’re cool. Yeah, they’re, they’re a little bit extra work, but essentially it’s a way to feed your baby supplemental milk from your own body. So use a little feeding tube and you tape it right next to your nipple and you connect it to a little bottle or bag or syringe, or there’s a couple of different ways to do this.

And then you let your baby suckle at the nipple and just that milk slowly gets expressed too. That’s so fucking cool. It’s cool. And it’s not a big deal. And you know, as long as your baby’s getting fed and your family is becoming a nice little unit, great. Yeah. And you know, like the most important thing for me is do you feel supported?

Do you feel loved? Do you feel respected? Yeah. Yeah. That’s the goal for all of the patients, no matter how they identify. Totally. So I hope you enjoyed this little mini-sode and I hope you understand part of our big motivation to rebrand. Yes. And we really appreciate all of the support. I mean, this podcast has been downloaded I don’t even know, thousands of times now. And you know, so for us to rebrand is actually a pretty big deal because we were making headway. You know, we have a lot of listeners out there. Oh, yeah, we still are making headway. And, you know if you want to unsubscribe because everything we just said was offensive to you, I’m sorry, but there’s other podcasts for you. Yeah. And you know, we just have to be who we are and we want you to be who you are. And we are just happy that everyone is here for it.

Thanks everybody. It’s really good to be back.


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