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Thread: Gentle terms for pregnancy, birth and parenting

  1. #1

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    Default Gentle terms for pregnancy, birth and parenting

    I thought since phase one of this gentle section has been implemented with great success, I thought I would start up delving deeper into the world of all things gentle. For example, the words we choose for conception to parenthood and how they describe these processes.

    For example, we often say, 'delivered' a baby. More and more, you'll hear the word, 'birthed your baby' or 'I was at the birth' rather than delivery. The reason for this is a) By saying an Obstetrician delivered the baby - that's giving them the power and credit for the birth! and b) which is more humourous but babies are born / birthed, pizzas are delivered LOL!!!

    Another thing which is changing is 'Demand Feeding' which when you think about it - what little infant should be said to be demanding?! So words like 'infant-led' have been adopted (as I have too after trying to find the right word!.

    I know that also attachment parenting is going through the same thing, putting a label on parenting - a style of parenting which I think is very natural and normal, yet we label it as an alternative style!



    Extended breastfeeding is the same. One doctor is leading a campaign to make it 'full-term breastfeeding' or perhaps some other catchy word will happen.

    I think it's great that all these positive words are being adopted, rather than isolate or make the natural and normal sound like a procedure or alternate method. What do you think?
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

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  2. #2

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    I agree that the words we use can have a huge impact on the way we and others think about our world. Words are really powerful in the way they can shape our perceptions, thoughts, and ultimately our actions. I am particularly passionate about words and language, as an advocate for people with a disability, and a human rights laywer-in-training, I've seen first hand how powerful a tool the spoken word can be in changing stereotypes and attitudes.

    I'm with you Kelly. I think if we're more mindful of the words we use to describe conception, birth and parenting-related issues/processes we can hopefully demystify much of the medical mumbo jumbo that has (up until this point) had a tendency to alienate mothers and fathers from what should be a very natural, empowering, and personal thing. Much of the unthinking, cold, clinical jargon just serves to distance parents from the whole process. We need to choose words which emphasise and encourage active participation and an "owning" of the process rather than perpetuating the idea that we are simply passive observers at the mercy of the "experts" with no meaningful role to play.

    Interesting topic

  3. #3

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    I agree completely...words are so powerful. Kel I love the 'full-term breastfeeding' phrase..i wonder if it will take off.

    Jo

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    Maybe I should trial it on here
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

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    i love the full term breastfeeding term (and have completed two terms and only a sneeze there with oscar!)

    i believe in saying i am in unpaid work instead of SAHM as i certainly work (although i do love it) and i believe it validates the importance of what i do. i also ask if a mum is in paid work instead of do you work.

    another one i never say is naughty - i believe children are learning, their boundarys, our boundarys, whats fun etc. so if someone has said to my kids oh you're naughty i always say no just learning, mind you i don't let them get away with it and explain why.

    same with when people ask if your baby is 'good', i ask them to define good and therefore 'bad'. usually 'good' babys sleep through the night, never cry, sleep on their own blah blah blah so i say No my baby has a highly developed survival instinct and therefore wakes up if i leave him alone, isn't he clever he sences that i'm not there and there may be danger around so wakes up and crys to let me know - i usually end this conversation with yes well he's gifted or brilliant.

    i agree with the demand feeding one although i never really thought about that one before maybe it could be called meething their needs feeding or responsive feeding yeah i like that one!

    i had no idea when i had josh 10 years ago that this style of parenting had a name (maybe it didn't then) i just did what felt right and what my sisters had done. i guess i was lucky to have had some family members that responded to their baby's needs so i watched and learned from that.

    kelly i love this forum!

    love beckles

  6. #6
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    Beckles - Im with you on the "is he/she a good baby" thing. What the?? Define good, all babies are GREAT!! I get soooo annoyed when people ask that!!! AARRGGHH

    I also like to tell people (if they ask) that I have a very important job, the most important in the world - helping to teach my little man how to be a good person.

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    Just to give you a comparison from Danish.

    When referring to giving birth, the word they use (født) means 'give birth' - not deliver.

    Also it isn't demand feeding here but 'amme efter behøv' the literal translation is 'breastfeeding after need'.

    And Beckles and Bel, I always just say, 'yes he's a good baby'! What a silly question tho.

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    The good baby thing cracks me up too. I always just say, I dont know what a good baby is since she is my first.
    I agree with the "birth" usage - except Jenna was definitly delivered..... I didn't play much part in getting her out. Forceps were the winner there.
    I like the breastfeedign one too - but how do we know what is full term? So if you only do 6 months you are only part term? I prefer infant led myself, but only because I think "full term" may lead to issues.

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    We had Charlie's needles yesterday and the nurse kept on commenting on how "good" he was. I eventually had to kind of correct her, by saying he was a fairly "placid" baby........"good" and "bad" tends to suggest to me that the baby is trying to be "bad" if they cry, which as we know is certainly not the case!!

  10. #10

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    The way I see full term is like this...

    When you are pregnant, full term may be 38-42 weeks - ultimately baby decides on it's own when he / she is coming. But either way, that was their full term. As far as breastfeeding goes, full term is as long as baby wants to go too - be it sooner or later...

    Another word I wanted to throw in was the change from birth plan to birth intentions. Of course, we can't plan our birth as things happen, but if we do our 'birth intentions' then it is much more flexible. If you see it around the site you will know what I am on about anyway, because I have already converted
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
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    I've been giving it some thought, and I kinda agree with Fi on the "full term breastfeeding" term. I know you likened the issue to pregnancy Kelly, but I'm gonna play devil's advocate and point out that ultimately, a pregnancy is quantifiable - a full term pg is around the 40 week mark give or take a few weeks. When we're talking breastfeeding, it could indicate a discrepancy of years. I think using this term may lead to a focus on amount of time spent bf, rather than the fact that the mother has fed her child in accordance with the child's uniquely individual nutritional/emotional needs. The word "full" imo invites judgement. What we want is empowerment, not comparison or judgement...

    I am sure there is a better term out there just waiting to be discovered, and once it's adopted by the rest of the birthing/parenting community we can all proudly say we were there on bellybelly when it was concieved. I think it's really important to get terminology right - why don't we put our thinking caps on and come up with something better!?!

    I'll throw a few in the ring...off the top of my head (who knows if they're original or not?)...but I'm gonna give it some further contemplation as well...

    How about:

    "needs-based breastfeeding"
    "infant centred breastfeeding"
    "instinctual breastfeeding"
    "intuitive breastfeeding"
    "mother/child synchronicity"
    "synchronised breastfeeding" (meaning that mother and child are both in harmony with one another)
    "idiosyncratic breastfeeding" (meaning a breastfeeding relationship that is unique to that particular mother and child)

    most of those are relationship or needs related terms rather than indicative of time or expectation... I'm not sure I'm completely sold on any one of them, but I wanted to get the discussion happening!

    What do you think?

  12. #12

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    Juliette - I do like the terms you are using there, although I do like Kelly's full term breastfeeding as well... anything I think is better than extended breastfeeding!

    I am another one that hates the term, 'is he a good baby?' I'll always answer, 'in what respect do you mean?' Nine times out of ten they'll say, 'does he sleep at night?' Argh! ' Of course he sleeps! Does it matter how long for? No of course it doesn't. What matters more is that he is being cared for.

    Birth intentions is great as well - I hope I remember to start using all these!

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    Juliette, those terms are great - do you think though that they are more applicable alternatives to infant-led feeding and not breastfeeding for a longer period?
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

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    I really don't know to be honest!

    I guess we need to look at what we're trying to describe... my point is that breastfeeding for a longer period is merely an extension of the whole idea of infant-led feeding (i.e. that the length of the bf relationship is determined by the needs of that particular mother and child) rather than describing the fact that you're bf for x amount of months/years iykwim? I dunno! I guess the use of the words either "extended" or "full" seem to invite comparison of one breastfeeding relationship to another... I was thinking it might be wise to steer away from that...

    How can we make sure that someone who bf's for 18 months (in accordance with their child's needs and signs they are ready to wean) isn't compared to someone who feeds their child for 4 years or more? Will we see one as more "full" than the other? I think full is MUCH better than extended, but it still doesn't sit comfortably with me... (I'm being a pedantic pain in the bum )

    I don't think any of my suggestions necessarily do the job either. Like you pointed out, they're not that different to infant-led really. Hopefully someone will think of something better!

    It's very tricky!

  15. #15

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    How about, Infant-led feeding & weaning? Or that might put too much focus on 'infant' keeping it young, so child-led feeding and weaning? Trying hard here LOL!!!!
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
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  16. #16

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    re the 'good baby thingy' dh responded a few weeks ago in a really deep throaty voice

    "no he is the prince of darkness, all kneel before his satanic majesty!"

    now that shocked the woman who asked him! she may think twice before asking again!

    love beckles

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    LOL Beckles! I bet that lady won't be asking that question of anyone again. It really is such a silly question. We get asked all the time.

    Kelly - I think infant-led weaning is more descriptive of the whole process.

    Not sure on the infant/child/baby/"person-of-short-stature-who-isn't-very-old" term. Perhaps infant will do!! LOL

  18. #18
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    Great thread!

    I say "breastfeeding on cue" rather than demand, because that's how I see it. Child-led weaning, as the word child includes babies, toddlers and older. In an ideal world, that would be the norm, and we wouldn't need a term, instead talking about eraly weaning, or incomplete breastfeeding.

    Beckles, I love your patrner's response. Personally I sincerely believe that all babies are good, no matter what their level of need, personality or behavioural traits. So when people ask me, I generally just say yes, she's wonderful. If someone says "is she a good baby - does she sleep well" I say yess she's very good and we're working on the sleeping.

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