Welcome to my very first blog post! I'm planning to use this space to share some of my ideas and insights about human lactation and infant care. My hope is that if I write some of my thoughts down, rather than let them tumble over each other in my brain all day, I'll free up some bandwidth for new thinking! As a bonus, perhaps you will enjoy reading along.
To start, I want to talk about the word milk.
Milk is, of course, at the very center of human lactation and of raising human infants. Ideally, babies are milk-fed exclusively for their early months, and remain primarily milk-fed for the entirety of their first year of life (and sometimes beyond). In this blog, as in real life, I will use the word "milk" to refer to what Merriam Webster defines as the "fluid secreted by the mammary glands" of human mothers. I will not be using the more popular term, "breast milk" (which is actually two words).
The reason why I don't use the term breast milk isn't just because it takes longer to say, and it isn't just because I also refrain from saying things like "bladder urine" and "mouth saliva." I believe that the term breast milk—in addition to including the word breast, which in our culture can be complicated and awkward—implies that there is something exceptional about the milk made in the human breast. Consider this common exchange:
"Are you feeding your baby?"
"Yes, I'm feeding her breast milk."
In this scenario, the parent shares that the baby is receiving breast milk, which implies that the baby is NOT being fed regular milk. There is something different and distinguished about this baby's milk, and it gets its own special name (which happens to include a woman's body part in the title). If we want people in our culture to learn to see human milk as the regular, default milk for human babies, we have to start with the very basics; we have to start with what we call it. In this case, what we call it matters.
Moving forward, I will refer to human milk as "milk" by default and as "human milk" when it's being compared with other kinds of milks. I will refer to artificial baby milk (also known as "formula") as "ABM." I will refer to cow's milk as "cow's milk" (imagine if we called it "udder milk"?!), and to goat's milk as "goat's milk."
Welcome to the blog! Please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments.