Gross Nursing Terms I'd Love To Never Hear Again

Easy now, "breast is best" camp. I think breastfeeding is natural, beautiful, miraculous, and the absolute best nutrition for a baby. Still, it's gross. Now, I don't think breastfeeding moms should hide in shame (far from it), because it's not the act that gives me the willies so much as the lexicon. Sometimes the terminology is overly scientific-sounding, excessively descriptive, or just conjures icky feelings. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of really gross breastfeeding terms I'd love to never hear again.

Breastfeeding never came easily to me, so maybe that's why I'm so sensitive to breastfeeding nomenclature. Everything about it was stressful and upsetting, and it was a struggle for me to make it to seven months. I ended up supplementing with formula, which came with its own set of challenges (primarily guilt over not being able to provide for my child with my own body). I suspect many of these phrases bother me because they remind me of my breastfeeding misery, but there are also plenty of other words that describe the indignities associated with nursing (that even those who love it suffer).

It's not every word. "Latch," for example, I find to be perfectly suited for what it illustrates. Cute even. But I guess it kind of ends there, at least for me. I realize not everyone is affected by words, but if you're a breastfeeding mama who happens to hate "moist" and "panties," this is for you.


Colostrum? You mean the active ingredient in my hemorrhoid cream? No? Oh, that's right. Colostrum is the first milk your breasts produce. It's jam-packed with antibodies and immunoglobulin goodness. It's super concentrated with protein, so it packs a mean punch. Great, I love it. Can we just call it first milk?


OK, so the term engorge means congested with blood or other fluid. Ewwwwwww. I mean, that's objectively yucky, right? It makes me think of a boil. I know breast engorgement refers to the filling of my milk ducts with life-giving breast milk, but isn't there a nicer way to describe its overabundance? Something that will make me forget that it felt like my breast tissue had been replaced with granite?

Pump And Dump

This delightful phrase makes you sound like a milk machine. Being hooked up to a mechanical pump can be unsettling. It's essentially a milk extraction process without the warm fuzzies associated with breastfeeding. Some women pump and dump after drinking alcohol or taking potentially harmful medication. I had such low supply that the idea of "dumping" any of that liquid gold gives me the shivers.

Cracked Nipples

Ouch. Just reading that phrase makes me instinctively cover my boobs. Maybe it's just that it describes the agonizing experience that breastfeeding moms have of sore, red, sometimes bleeding areolae. It makes nursing highly unpleasant, to say the least. Fortunately, I have a magical word for you: lanolin. Sound soothing? It is.


When I hear this word, I think of a pig rooting around in the dirt for truffles. Not exactly the kind of term I want attached to my precious infant. It's pretty accurate, though. Newborns snuffle around their mother's breast like little piglets. I checked the thesaurus on this one, but I don't feel like "burrowing," "foraging," or "grubbing up" are preferable.


I'm not talking about the studly Hunger Games tribute. That's Thresh. No, my friends, thrush refers to an oral yeast infection. Breastfeeding newborns are prone to this, and it presents as white, cottage-cheesy patches. It's about as fun as it sounds.

Nursing Pads

Nursing pads are necessary because many mamas experience leaking breasts. Unfortunately, it's kind of unpredictable. Certain things (like a crying baby or orgasm, whatever gets your oxytocin going) can set off the milk ejection reflex (I find the term "let-down" more palatable), which causes the leaking. Nursing pads are helpful, fine, but do we have to call them pads? That just makes me think of my period.

Manual Expression

All this means is that you're squeezing milk out of your boobies, but it sounds like something you should be doing in the privacy of your own home. I find "hand expression" to be a marginally more tolerable term.


Is it just me, or is there something a little too bovine about these terms? For the uninitiated, foremilk is the milk at the beginning of a feeding, and hindmilk is the milk at the end. Hindmilk has a higher fat content. I'm sure there's a better way to name these. How about "breast nectar?" Nope. Sorry. That's worse.


Mastitis sounds like something you might contract from showering without flip-flops in your college dorm. The reality isn't much better. Mastitis is a breast infection that occurs when bacteria enter through a nipple abrasion (funsies). It can lead to a breast abscess AKA a pocket of pus! No thank you and no thank you.

Clogged Duct

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with even having ducts, let alone clogged ones. What are you supposed to do? Roto-Rooter that sh*t? Basically, if you're not expressing milk as fast as it's being produced, you can get a backlog of it. It results in a painful little lump that can cause mastitis. (I believe I've already made my feelings about that word clear.) Even if it was really a synonym for chocolate milkshake, I still wouldn't want it (and that's saying a lot).