Fury over new NHS trans pregnancy advice that refers to 'chest-feeding'

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New NHS advice for trans parents has been described as ‘ideological’ for failing to mention the word breasts and endorsing a dangerous chest-binding technique.

It also encourages people to keep taking hormone transitioning drugs when they ‘chestfeed’, despite admitting ‘it is unclear what effect this could have on your baby’.

The guidance was written a year ago but was only issued online this week after nearly a year of internal wrangling over whether to publish. 

It has provoked concern among nurses and members of the public, who said the advice fails to warn people about health risks to both parents and babies. 

A page titled ‘chestfeeding if you’re trans or non-binary’ makes no mention of breasts and refers to breast reduction operations as ‘top surgery’.

The advice also has a section on binding, a technique used by women transitioning to men to flatten their breasts, usually with extremely tight fitting bras.

Experts have previously warned the technique can cause bruised ribs, fractures, breathing difficulties and infections.

Even NHS England advice in 2008 said bindings should only be used for short periods of time because they ‘may cause back problems’ and can distort breast tissue, which could affect any future surgery to remove the breasts. 

The new NHS pregnancy and breastfeeding advice page which has provoked concerns

The new NHS pregnancy and breastfeeding advice page which has provoked concerns

Critics of the page have said it endorses a potentially dangerous 'binding' technique used to make breasts smaller using fabric and which can cause a variety of health problems

Critics of the page have said it endorses a potentially dangerous ‘binding’ technique used to make breasts smaller using fabric and which can cause a variety of health problems

The page also says testosterone can pass through breast milk to babies but adds it is 'unclear' what affect passing the hormone on to a baby could have

The page also says testosterone can pass through breast milk to babies but adds it is ‘unclear’ what affect passing the hormone on to a baby could have 

The term chestfeeding if used throughout the page with the term 'breast' omitted. Breastmilk likewise has been replaced with 'milk from the chest'

The term chestfeeding if used throughout the page with the term ‘breast’ omitted. Breastmilk likewise has been replaced with ‘milk from the chest’

The new NHS page said women who bind may be a higher chance of getting an infection called mastitis, an infection of the breast that which can make it more difficult to breastfeed. 

A separate page admits ‘it is unclear’ what effects taking testosterone and ‘chestfeeding’ will have on the baby.

It also adds: ‘It is also important to consider your own wellbeing if you are finding that not taking testosterone is triggering dysphoria. ‘ 

Kat Barber, a nurse from Shrewsbury, said the NHS failed to adequately highlight the risks involved in its advice.

‘There is advice in here that negates to mention that binding during breastfeeding may adversely impact health supply,’ she tweeted. 

‘Specific advice for trans people is great, but they deserve to know the full range of possible harms, and the NHS has a duty to make that clear.’

James Esses, a former barrister, who frequently posts about gender issues on social media, accused the NHS of using ‘ideologically driven language’ instead of acknowledging medical realities.

‘It uses the ideologically driven language of “chestfeeding”’, he said.

‘Most worryingly, it normalises breast binding, which studies have shown can cause significant physical health problems.’

Another user, called Andrea, called the NHS’s seeming endorsement of binding ‘irresponsible’. 

‘This is utterly irresponsible. The NHS should not be recommending breast-binding under any circumstances, but for breastfeeding it is verging on criminal,’ she said. 

An NHS spokesperson said: ‘The NHS website provides information for everyone, and we add pages to the site to keep it in line with the best clinical evidence and make it as helpful as possible to everyone who needs it.’

Earlier this year this website revealed a Government funded report said maternity services should use ‘inclusive’ terms like ‘chestfeeding’ so trans pregnant people aren’t offended.

The report, from the LGBT Foundation, made the recommendation after surveying 121 trans Britons on their experience of pregnancy.

Some Twitter users said the NHS was using 'ideologically driven language'

Some Twitter users said the NHS was using ‘ideologically driven language’ 

One nurse said the NHs had a duty to highlight some of the health risk techniques like binding can cause

One nurse said the NHs had a duty to highlight some of the health risk techniques like binding can cause 

Other members of the public highlighted the NHs advice saying experts seemingly had no idea what impact breastmilk with testosterone could have on a baby

Other members of the public highlighted the NHs advice saying experts seemingly had no idea what impact breastmilk with testosterone could have on a baby 

A Twitter user called Andrea said the NHS should not be recommending binding under any circumstances

A Twitter user called Andrea said the NHS should not be recommending binding under any circumstances

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