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Anger over new NHS trans pregnancy advice referencing ‘breastfeeding’

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New NHS advice for trans parents has been described as ‘ideological’ for failing to mention the word breasts and ‘normalizing’ a potentially dangerous technique for breast tying.

It also encourages people to continue taking hormone transition drugs when ‘breastfeeding’, despite the fact that ‘it’s unclear what effect this could have on your baby’.

The guideline was written a year ago but was only published online this week after nearly a year of internal bickering over whether or not to publish.

It has raised concerns among nurses and citizens, who said the advice does not warn people about health risks to both parents and babies.

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

The advisory also includes a section on tying, a technique used by women transitioning to men to flatten their breasts, usually with extremely form-fitting bras.

Experts have previously warned that the technique could 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 can ’cause back problems’ and distort breast tissue, that could affect future surgery to remove the breasts.

The new NHS pregnancy and breastfeeding advice page that has raised concerns

Critics of the page have said it normalizes a potentially dangerous 'tying technique' used to shrink breasts using fabric and can cause a variety of health problems.

Critics of the page have said it normalizes a potentially dangerous ‘tying technique’ used to shrink breasts using fabric and can cause a variety of health problems.

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

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

The term

The term “breastfeeding” is used throughout the page and the term “breast” is omitted. Breast milk has also been replaced by ‘milk from the breast’

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

A separate page admits that “it’s unclear” what effects taking testosterone and “breastfeeding” will have on the baby.

It also adds: ‘It’s also important to think about your own well-being if you find that not taking testosterone is causing dysphoria. †

Kat Barber, a nurse from Shrewsbury, said the NHS failed to emphasize the risks of her advice enough.

“There’s an advisory here that denies mentioning bonding during breastfeeding can negatively impact health offerings,” she tweeted.

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

James Esses, a former lawyer who regularly posts about gender issues on social media, accused the NHS of using ‘ideologically driven language’ rather than acknowledging medical realities.

“It uses the ideologically driven language of ‘breastfeeding,'” he said.

“Most worryingly, it normalizes breast binding, which studies have shown can cause significant physical health problems.”

Another user named Andrea called the apparent normalization of bindings by the NHS “irresponsible”.

‘This is completely irresponsible. The NHS should under no circumstances recommend breast-binding, but for breast-feeding it tends to be criminal,” she said.

dr. Karleen Gribble, an expert in nursing and obstetrics from Western Sydney University in Australia, said the NHS page was ‘misleading’.

She said the binding advice was “unclear” and did not highlight the risks of mastitis.

“Binding increases the risk of mastitis, it’s not like it increases the risk, as they say,” she said.

“The literature that has widely considered binding and lactation states that this is not something to be attempted early in lactation and if attempted later, great caution should be exercised.”

“They’re not doing anyone a favor by not saying it’s not recommended or by not linking to the NHS web page that goes into detail about mastitis.”

dr. Gribble added that very little research has been done on the effects of testosterone in breast milk.

Given the unknowns, she said it was good that people were asked to talk to a health professional about the issue, but added that there were so many unknowns that it was difficult to know which guidelines to follow.

“It’s good for people to be referred to their doctor or midwife, but the question I would have is, where are these health care providers going to get information to support them?” she said.

‘The information seems to suggest that it is okay to take testosterone under certain circumstances, but if so, what are those situations?’

She added that it wasn’t the best way to formulate health advice for specific groups, but it wasn’t the best way to reach a diverse group, such as LGBT people, all at once, and that such a page would “be clearer.” and fairer information’.

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

Earlier this year, this website unveiled a government-funded report stating that maternity care should use “inclusive” terms like “breastfeeding” so trans pregnant people aren’t offended.

The report, from the LGBT Foundation, made the recommendation after surveying 121 trans-Brits about their experiences with pregnancy.

Some Twitter users said the NHS used 'ideologically driven language'

Some Twitter users said the NHS used ‘ideologically driven language’

A nurse said the NHS had a duty to emphasize some health risk techniques, such as bonding

A nurse said the NHS had a duty to emphasize some health risk techniques, such as bonding

Other members of the public emphasized the NHs' advice, saying experts had seemingly no idea what impact breast milk containing testosterone could have on a baby

Other members of the public emphasized the NHs’ advice, saying experts had seemingly no idea what impact breast milk containing testosterone could have on a baby

A Twitter user named Andrea said the NHS should not make binding recommendations under any circumstances

A Twitter user named Andrea said the NHS should not make binding recommendations under any circumstances

Earlier this week the i revealed that a series of NHS webpages offering advice to LGBT people had been published after a whistleblower revealed they had been blocked for nearly a year.

The whistleblower believed the delayed advice was evidence of anti-trans views within the institution.

However, meetings within NHS England and nhs.uk, the health service’s main website, led to the pages being published on Monday.

The total number of transgender people who have given birth in the UK is unknown.

A female-to-male trans man, a trans man, can still conceive and give birth as long as they are fertile and their uterus has not been removed.

However, they may have trouble breastfeeding if they have had surgery to remove their breast tissue, known as breast reduction or top surgery.

Male-to-female transgenders, trans women, can’t give birth because they weren’t born with a uterus.

However, scientists believe that it is theoretically possible to fertilize a trans woman with IVF, when the eggs are fertilized outside the body and then inserted.

But it would take a healthy uterus for the child to grow in, and transplants are years, if not decades, away from making that happen.

There are no accurate estimates of the number of transgender people in the UK, but the government estimates there are between 200,000-500,000.

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