Breastfeeding, Breast feeding or Breast-feeding? Which is it?
Patricia Gima, IBCLC
With the term breast feeding, there is the implication that breast is one way of feeding, and being an adjective it is of lesser importance than the noun, feeding. There can be breast feeding, bottle feeding, formula feeding, breastmilk feeding, spoon feeding, self feeding, etc. By spacing the breast from the feeding there is a separateness implied. Whereas with breastfeeding there is an implied integration of the breast and the feeding. And the experience of breastfeeding a baby is far beyond feeding a baby with a breast. The word breastfeeding carries this broader connotation.
Its like homemaker. If it were home maker, there would be an entirely different idea implied. The latter would be a person who makes a home. The former carries a myriad of responsibilities and understood relationships.
Many times in the English language (perhaps in others too) we will have two words for a while, then, when certain intrinsic values are understood, the words become one. The subject/object nature of English causes speakers of the language to see distance between separate words. For example, long ago there were holes in the walls of a house for the wind to blow through. They were called wind holes. Later, even though they were covered, they became windholes, then windows. Window conveys its own essence without thinking about holes or wind. Another more current example is fast food. First we had fast food restaurants. Now that the concept is solidified to mean a given experience it is becoming fastfood restaurant, with the implied meaning of "wonderful, nutritious, quick, always tasting the same, kids will eat it, dont think about it" :) kind of place to assuage ones hunger temporarily.
At one time in human history, breastfeeding was referred to as "feeding the baby." But some unfortunate trends were begun, and now we must be more specific for a few generations. Meanwhile, breastfeeding more closely describes experience were speaking of than does breast feeding or breast-feeding. Some of us like the term "nursing" but that has its problems too, given the medical profession of Nursing. So we are calling it breastfeeding now, in hopes that this term will come into common usage (and common experience) and will again carry the concept of nurturing the child.
Patricia Gima, IBCLC
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