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 Aiden 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.