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Let’s focus on how to help mothers not what to call them | READER COMMENTARY

Mother of three Sharalyn Webre breastfeeds Lottie, born one week earlier at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, in this 2012 file photo. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun).
Mother of three Sharalyn Webre breastfeeds Lottie, born one week earlier at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, in this 2012 file photo. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun). (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun)

As a retired childbirth educator and breastfeeding specialist, I look back at decades of work aimed at improving birthing practices and breastfeeding support available to the families I served. My students in my classes included surrogate mothers, lesbian couples and women planning for their babies to be adopted. Families are created in many ways, but currently babies arrive in their families only after being carried in the uterus of a person born female.

Infant feeding as well can be carried out in many ways by various loving caregivers. Breast milk may be pumped from the breasts of lactating women and provided to the infant, in some cases as a lifesaving measure. Mothers who are separated from their babies commonly pump their milk for others to feed their babies and infant formula is commonly used to replace breast milk.

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But breastfeeding, the process of feeding a baby breast milk directly from the breast, is currently only a function performed by people born female. If all of the energy directed at finding politically correct terms to define the normal, natural functions of birth and breastfeeding (”Why are we calling mothers ‘birthing persons’?” June 21) were directed to strengthening the ability of women to give birth in a safe and satisfying manner and to breastfeed comfortably as long as they and their baby wish to, we would see positive health outcomes that are far more important to “birthing and breastfeeding persons” than whatever the current terminology is.

Kathleen Tremper, Catonsville

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