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Should we refer to breastfeeding as "nursing?"

The media often uses the term "nursing" to describe breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is extremely important and nurses should strongly advocate it.

However, when "nursing" is used this way, it undermines the image of the nursing profession by suggesting that it is a nurturing activity that almost all mothers can do, instead of an autonomous, multi-faceted scientific discipline requiring years of college-level education.

This use of "nursing" also makes it more difficult to recruit male nurses, many of whom are understandably uncomfortable with the maternal association.

Please see a very full discussion of the topic of language and nursing here.

We suggest some specific changes to our language:

Old phrase
New phrase
  to nurse to breastfeed
  nursing breastfeeding
  wet-nurse breastfeeding surrogate
  nursing top breastfeeding top
  nurse-in breastfeeding protest
  nurse-in protestors Lactivists


Last updated April 29, 2012