Published on 10th November 2021

As the LGBTQI+ community celebrates Transgender Awareness Week it’s important to keep educating ourselves on the issues that transgender people face and join in on the discussions that affect the transgender community on a daily basis. Because educating ourselves is the best way we can support our trans and non-binary friends. And if there are things you don’t know about, then that’s OK. God bless Google and all that. The biggest way to show some love is to be an active force, whether that’s reading a blog, listening to a podcast or standing up for someone in conversation. Today, let’s learn about chestfeeding. 

Chestfeeding cheat sheet

It’s never too late to get clued up, so let’s get the basics covered. 

  • Chestfeeding is simply the act of feeding your baby milk from your chest. 

  • A term used by transgender and non-binary parents to describe to others how they feed their babies. 

  • It’s most commonly associated with transgender men who have had surgery to remove breast tissue. 

  • All humans have mammary glands and produce the hormones that allow you to produce milk. 

  • For transgender men, it’s often the case that they can produce milk in the same way even post-surgery. 

  • Transgender women can sometimes chestfeed, with assistance from medications. 

  • Chestfeeding can also refer to using a feeding tube attached to the nipple to feed their baby if lactation isn’t possible.

  • You may also hear chestfeeding being referred to as body feeding. 

So much more than milk

Sure, milk is often the aim of the game, but there are some other benefits of chestfeeding that you might not have considered. It’s called non-nutritive suckling and is defined as any suckling when there’s no fluid, as opposed to nutritive suckling where the baby gets milk. Whilst we assume that chestfeeding involves providing your baby with nourishment, it can be utilised for a number of important reasons. 

  • It’s all about those gorgeous hormones your body releases when you’re close to your baby. It can make the parent and the baby provide a basis for attachment and feel all together closer. 

  • Non-nutritive suckling can be a form of pain relief for teething babies. 

  • The feelings of calmness and security that are produced can help your little one fall asleep quicker. And let’s face it, that’s never a bad thing. 

  • This sort of interaction can assist their sucking reflex and help in the future when eating and drinking. 

Add it to your dictionary

As a way of showing respect for non-binary and transgender individuals, we need to normalize the word chestfeeding and get as comfortable with it as we are with breastfeeding. Using it in place of breastfeeding will mean we’re not assuming their gender or anatomy. Chestfeeding isn’t something to be questioned or debated. It’s simply a technique that is used and a phrase that needs to be accepted. So add it to your dictionary now.