Introducing the New ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources

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Breast milk or human milk? Skin-to-skin or skin to skin? To guide the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) in its usage of common terms in our profession, ILCA developed the ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources in 2015. This document was produced to guide the development of ILCA’s professional materials (though others in the field of lactation may wish to adopt the Preferred Usage section for their written materials). These guidelines have recently undergone an update, including a change in the preferred style guide and efforts to better align with ILCA’s Core Values of Diversity and Equity.

Style Guide Conversion

Among the changes that Joan E. Dodgson, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN made when she took on the mantel of Editor-in-Chief at the Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) was a broadening of the journal’s content to address humanities and social science research in addition to health science research. With that expansion came a change in the JHL style guidelines from the American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), Sixth Edition.

The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) also made the decision to convert its style guidelines from AMA format to APA format. But that is not the only change to ILCA’s style standards.

Aligning with ILCA’s Core Values of Diversity and Equity

The new ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources is now a dynamic document that will be updated periodically as part of ILCA’s implementation of the Strategic Map. This implementation includes increasingly manifesting our Core Values of Diversity and Equity. Valuing diversity here at ILCA means that “we foster an inclusive environment that supports leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research from varied perspectives.” And valuing equity means that “we support global access to skilled lactation care and the IBCLC profession.”

As an international organization, our members, colleagues, and Global Partners represent a variety of social groups, countries, and languages, including different versions of English. As English is the primary language used for ILCA publications, this update of the ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources addresses the different spelling of words that are specific to British English versus U.S. English:

When sole authors submit a document for publication by ILCA, their use of spellings specific to either British English or U.S. English will be maintained. Prior to jointly submitting a co-authored document for publication by ILCA, co-authors must gain consensus on whether spellings specific to either British English or U.S. English will be used; their consensus will be maintained when the document is published by ILCA.

And, in recognition of the diversity in gender identity around the world, this style update also begins incorporating gender inclusive language. The vast majority of lactation-related literature refers to mothers breastfeeding, without using language which acknowledges that transgender fathers and genderqueer parents may breastfeed, chestfeed, or lactate. As Alice Farrow stated in their JHL article Lactation Support in the LGBTQ Community, “Cisnormativity is manifested in institutional erasure and practices that ‘exclude or ignore the possibility of providing service to trans clients, such as the predominant use, within the lactation profession, of female gendered language when referring to breastfeeding parents.” So, the ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources seeks to end this erasure in ILCA publications by including Preferred Usage entries such as:

breastfeeding (not “nursing,” when referring solely to a breastfeeding mother or a parent of any gender who prefers this term)

breastfeeding/chestfeeding (preferred over “breastfeeding” when referring to parents of any gender directly feeding at the breast/chest)

breast milk (two words); use of “human milk” is preferred; “mother’s own milk,” “father’s own milk,” “parent’s own milk,” or “expressed milk” may be used

chestfeeding (not chest-feeding)

father (not an informal alternative such as “dad,” “da,” or “papa”)

father–infant or father–infant dyad, with a dash (not “father–baby”)

The new ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources are the result of collaborative editing by Kathleen Marinelli, ILCA Director, Cynthia Good Mojab, ILCA Education Manager, and Brit Stamey, Client Manager and Senior Copy Editor with J&J Editorial, LLC. Review was provided by the ILCA Professional Development Committee and the Equity Committee. The ILCA Board of Directors approved the guidelines in December 2016. As we increasingly address issues of diversity and equity in all that we do, we welcome your feedback.

12 Responses to Introducing the New ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources

  1. Decalie Brown 3 January 2017 at 07:29 #

    A huge THANK YOU to all who are involved in the ILCA Professional Development Committee and the Equity Committee for your collaboration to update this valuable resource.
    Thanks to the editing team, Kathleen Marinelli, ILCA Director, Cynthia Good Mojab, ILCA Education Manager, and Brit Stamey, Client Manager and Senior Copy Editor with J&J Editorial, LLC.
    Thanks to the ILCA BOD for your timely approval and final Thanks to the ILCA Media Team for publishing it today !
    It’s a wonderful, practical and respectful writing guideline resource, for us to use everyday !

  2. ECBrooks 3 January 2017 at 11:44 #

    Love this! Thank you ILCA, and JHL!

    Linguistic curiosity makes me (and others) ask, regarding the example you provide [“father–infant or father–infant dyad, with a dash (not “father–baby”)”] …. is there is a reason that “infant” is a preferred term over “baby?” I am with you on that dash part.

    • Genevieve 10 January 2017 at 09:18 #

      I share ECBrooks curiosity. Infant is up to 12 months of age. Many children breastfeed beyond this age and these might be covered by baby, unless the phrase to use is the breastfeeding infant or young child?

    • lactationmatters 18 January 2017 at 12:25 #

      Thank you for checking in about the ILCA Style Guide. We are grateful for your feedback and look forward to replying. However, medical leave for one of the key people involved with this project has unexpectedly delayed our response. Please know that we are tracking your message and will get back to you as soon as possible.

  3. Jodine Chase 5 January 2017 at 11:27 #

    It’s terrific to see these updated guidelines, thanks to the team for all this good work. As a follow-up step I’d like to see guidance on the terminology used when discussing supplementing with donor human milk and human milk derived products – there are many controversies and inconsistencies over the language used in this area. For example, does “donor” apply when the milk is purchased? What terms are preferred for milksharing? Is it “milk sharing” or milksharing? What terms to donors prefer? Are we conferring bias when we use terms like “informal milksharing? Is there guidance from other authorities on the use of phrases like “milk bank” or “milk depot?” I’d also like to see some stakeholder and perhaps even public consultation around ILCA’s style guideline changes – these changes, for example, could have been presented as draft guidance for comment before being finalized. (And Liz’s question about infant vs baby is one I’m interested in too.)

    • Janet Wood 6 January 2017 at 13:21 #

      I agree that these changes should have been presented as draft guidance for comment before being finalized!

      • lactationmatters 18 January 2017 at 12:25 #

        Thank you for checking in about the ILCA Style Guide. We are grateful for your feedback and look forward to replying. However, medical leave for one of the key people involved with this project has unexpectedly delayed our response. Please know that we are tracking your message and will get back to you as soon as possible.

    • lactationmatters 18 January 2017 at 12:25 #

      Thank you for checking in about the ILCA Style Guide. We are grateful for your feedback and look forward to replying. However, medical leave for one of the key people involved with this project has unexpectedly delayed our response. Please know that we are tracking your message and will get back to you as soon as possible.

  4. Genevieve 10 January 2017 at 09:22 #

    Expressing milk and pumping milk are physiologically different processes and different techniques may assist one but not the other process. Expressing has minimal cost whereas pumping has equipment and environmental cost. Why use the same term to cover both? See more about this at http://www.mdpi.com/journal/children/special_issues/Breastfeeding

    • lactationmatters 18 January 2017 at 12:24 #

      Thank you for checking in about the ILCA Style Guide. We are grateful for your feedback and look forward to replying. However, medical leave for one of the key people involved with this project has unexpectedly delayed our response. Please know that we are tracking your message and will get back to you as soon as possible.

  5. Sagar 11 October 2017 at 04:34 #

    I am curious to know more about “father’s own milk,” “parent’s own milk,”.
    What specifically are we talking about here?

  6. Genevieve 12 October 2017 at 08:19 #

    It is now 9 months since these guidelines were announced and comments invited. Only reply from ILCA office/board is that a reply is delayed. Are we ever to receive a reply to our queries?

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