I never really had a problem with the word “moist.” It immediately brings to mind cake, because who wants a dry, crumbly dessert? Moist towelettes served at Japanese restaurants or BBQ joints don’t skeeve me out. But I know a lot of people hate the word “moist,” conjuring up swampy, sweaty conditions, ripe for bacterial growth. To me, there is a word far more disturbing, though. In my humble opinion, the word “nursing” is categorically worse than "moist." Absolutely, no question.
"Nursing," to me, is loaded with dread, like a job you hate. And the fact that it’s a term used for all mammals — cows and people alike — doesn’t make me feel great as a human mom.
It’s a term my parents use, my grandparents use… basically anyone born a generation or more ahead of me has that word lodged in their vocabulary. My peers don’t use it, and I certainly try not to use it. It makes me squeamish. And that is not how I feel about breastfeeding. I breastfed for a total of over four years between my two kids and was not too shy about it. But something about the word “nursing” to describe it is just… ew.
Here are some reasons I think the word “nursing” is worse than the word “moist:”
It Makes Me Feel Old
The word just has an old-fashioned ring to it, maybe because it’s been in play for hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s derived from the latin word “nutrire,” meaning suckle, and where we also get the word “nourish.”
Actually, It Makes Everyone Feel Old
Nursing homes. Just what I want to think about as a new mom.
Its Roots Are In The Practice Of Wet Nursing
Yeah, did you know the word came about as a reference to wet nurses, lactating women who were employed by a family to feed the infant? The aversion to seeing moms breastfeed their own kids goes way back, it seems. Although, in the eras when dying in childbirth was common, I can see how the need for wet nurses was integral to raising healthy babies.
It Makes Me Think Of Hospitals
Kind of a bummer when you’re cuddling your infant and just want warm and fuzzy thoughts.
It Has A Clinical Ring To It
I hated when anyone described me as “nursing” my baby. I was simply feeding her or him. The word made it seem so serious, like I should be squirreled away under quarantine to nourish my kids.
Hearing Your Partner Say It Is Creepy
It’s weird enough to have your boobs suddenly appropriated by a hungry baby, often making it hard for you or your partner to think of them in any other capacity than as a milk bar. So I would cringe if my husband used the term, though I suppose it was better than when he would shoo callers away, explaining I was busy “milking the baby.”
It Feels Too Formal
I’m polite, but not conservative. “Nursing” just feels like you are trying to say the thing you don’t want to say. You know… the word that includes reference to a part of the female anatomy. I breastfed my kids. My body produced a nutritious substance that I was able to, thankfully, easily express from my body to feed my growing babies. This is not something that can happen for every mom, nor is it something that every mom wants for themselves. But let’s not beat around the bush. It’s breastfeeding. Like, from the boob. And if that feels too specific, can we just refer to it as “feeding?” There’s a term that works for everyone: expressed milk in a bottle feeders, breastfeeders, formula feeders. A kid’s gotta eat. "Feeding" I'm great with. Anything but that other word.