Effective Communication About Pregnancy, Birth, Lactation, Breastfeeding and Newborn Care: The Importance of Sexed Language

Karleen D Gribble, Susan Bewley, Melissa C Bartick, Roger Mathisen, Shawn Walker, Jenny Gamble, Nils J Bergman, Arun Gupta, Jennifer J Hocking, Hannah G Dahlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
119 Downloads (Pure)


On 24 September 2021, The Lancet medical journal highlighted an article on its cover with a single sentence in large text; “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected.” This statement, in which the word “women” was replaced with the phrase “bodies with vaginas,” is part of a trend to remove sexed terms such as “women” and “mothers” from discussions of female reproduction. The good and important intention behind these changes is sensitivity to, and acknowledgment of, the needs of people who are biologically female and yet do not consider themselves to be women because of their gender identity (1). However, these changes are often not deliberated regarding their impact on accuracy or potential for other unintended consequences. In this paper we present some background to this issue, describe various observed impacts, consider a number of potentially deleterious consequences, and suggest a way forward.
Original languageEnglish
Article number818856
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Global Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022 Gribble, Bewley, Bartick, Mathisen, Walker, Gamble, Bergman, Gupta, Hocking and Dahlen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • breastfeeding
  • health communication
  • gender identity
  • inclusivity
  • mothers
  • pregnancy
  • sex
  • women


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