- Chestfeeding is for anyone that chooses to use the term for themselves or others. Knowing why someone may use this term is important for people to feel safe and supported while feeding their baby!
Chestfeeding? Do you mean breastfeeding? Not necessarily. Chestfeeding is a word that may be new to you if you’ve just given birth and are new to the world of lactation yourself. Pickles & Ice Cream Georgia® is here to explain this term, when to use it, and why it’s relevant to you!
Physically, chestfeeding is exactly the same as breastfeeding. Hormones trigger the body to make milk, the milk travels through glands and ducts ending at the nipple to feed your baby. So if it’s the same thing, why do we need a new word?
Why ‘Chest’ Not ‘Breast’
Chestfeeding is used in the community of people who have recently given birth but don’t identify as women. They may be transgender folks who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) that now identify as men, or people who are non-binary. This means they don’t identify strictly as male or female or it might change from day-to-day.
People who do identify as female may also prefer ‘chestfeeding’ because of physical or emotional trauma related to their breasts. To them, the word ‘chest’ is not as triggering as ‘breast’ may be. Some people choose to use the term chestfeeding at certain times as a way to be an ally or show support for a chestfeeding friend. It’s important to remember that this isn’t an all-or-none situation. Some people may alternate between saying breastfeeding, chestfeeding, or nursing based on who they’re around. You may choose to use chestfeeding for a little while, then decide it isn’t right for you. That’s also fine!
At the end of the day, ‘chestfeeding’ is for anyone who feels like it’s for them. Choosing whether or not to use the term is a personal choice. Staying aware of these terms keeps you from having to ask chestfeeding people to explain themselves and making them uncomfortable. It’s best to simply accept and respect people’s choice of words concerning their own body.
If you’re starting to think that chestfeeding might be for you or you’re interested in learning more about chestfeeding or LGBTQ parenting, there is a whole collection of articles which can be found through Trans Fertility Co. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find LGBTQ parenting groups through Meetup or Facebook Groups and Queer Birth Project offers online groups as well as LGBTQ-centered childbirth education classes.
‘Chestfeeding’ is not for everybody, but it is for anybody who decides it’s right for them. If this article has got you thinking that ‘chestfeeding’ may be a term you prefer, and you have some more questions that need answering feel free to reach out!
Written By: Jacob Engelsman, IBCLC (he/him)
Message him on Instagram @jacobibclc if you have questions!