As doulas, helpers often immersed in a medical field, it is important to continue our education about the people we are supporting and keep up with changes that need to be made. I personally love writing these blogs, because I learn better ways to support people different from me through source finding. Here is the information I have gathered and would like to share.
Supporting LGTBQIA+ birthing people
Sometimes reminders of a person’s previous identity can be triggering or traumatic, especially in the moment of birth when stress is high and bodies are changing rapidly. It is our duty, as birth professionals, to try to minimize the discomfort our clients feel not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically. An simple way to do that is to use different, nongendered terms to describe bodies when necessary as a way of respect and support.
Addressing genitals and breasts
Breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and nursing are all ways to label feeding and bonding with a baby with a person’s body.
“Although both men and women have breast tissue, the word ‘breast’ is most often associated with women. Trans men may be more comfortable referring to their ‘chest’ and ‘chestfeeding’ or ‘nursing’ their infants (regardless of whether they have had chest surgery), rather than ‘breastfeeding’. Trans men may refer to themselves as ‘dad’, ‘papa’, or another term, rather than ‘mom’. As a helper, don’t make assumptions. Remember that if you are unsure, it is best to ask about which names and pronouns an individual uses. If you make a mistake, apologize promptly and move on.”Trevor MacDonald
Although we are not medical professionals, use medical terms to describe genitals, unless the birthing person advises you differently. Avoid labeling genitals as “male” or “female.” For example, if a person identifies as a male, but has a vagina, then do not use “female genitalia” to describe their anatomy.
When in doubt, ask.
Ask how the person would like you to refer to their body, their baby and their partner.
Ask pronouns, examples are, they/them, she/her, him/he, fae/fer, ze/zir, etc.
Ask how they plan to feed their baby.