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People are going crazy over a breastfeeding confession published in The Globe.

The joy (and politics) of breastfeeding someone else’s baby, was shared by (since retracted) Canadian author and newspaper columnist Leah McLaren, who recalls the first time she tried to breastfeed, although it was actually someone else’s baby.

“The breastfeeding incident occurred at a Toronto house party. It was an in-between sort of evening, neither a rager nor a formal dinner party – the sort of casual and expensively lubricated early-evening-into-night gathering that exhausted people in their 30s with small children tend to favour.”

“I was about 25 and did not have a baby – or even a boyfriend – at the time.”

Leah adds, “I was broody in the way that young women in their late 20s often are, before they realize that turning 30 is just the beginning of something rather than a vertiginous cliff off of which unlucky young women fall to die alone and be forgotten.”

“I was feeling a bit glum and distracted, so I’d wandered upstairs in search of a bathroom in which to reapply my lipstick and check my phone for random texts from inappropriate men (this was before Tinder). I walked into a bedroom with coats piled high on the bed and noticed that in the corner, sitting wide awake in a little portable car seat, was the cutest baby I’d ever seen. On the table beside him was a monitor. I smiled at the baby, the baby smiled back. Now this was a connection.”

“I leaned over and gingerly picked him up and then sat down in a chair to give him a cuddle. He felt gorgeous in my arms, all warm and lumpy and milky-smelling in the way small babies are. Somehow, my pinky finger ended up in his mouth and I was astonished at strength of his sucking reflex. “C’mon lady,” said his eyes. And I suddenly knew what he wanted. And I of course wanted to give him what he wanted. The only problem was, I had no milk. But would it be so bad, I wondered, if I just tried it out – just for a minute – just to see what it felt like?”

“I looked at the baby monitor as if it might be watching me, but thankfully this was before monitors had cameras.”

“Then slowly, carefully so as not to jostle the infant, I began to unbutton my blouse. Just as I was reaching into my bra, a shortish man with in a navy suit walked into the room.”

“Oh um, hello!” he said, in a friendly, upbeat tone that could not entirely conceal the fact that he was flummoxed to see me sitting there with my top half unbuttoned holding his baby.

“I see you’ve met my son. May I take him now?”

“The man, of course, was Michael Chong. I never caught the baby’s name. Mr. Chong took his son, bade me a swift and polite goodbye and I didn’t see him again for the rest of the party – probably because he left sensibly with his family an hour later while I no doubt hung around talking nonsense until after midnight.”

“I realize now that it was wrong and rude and frankly a bit weird of me to think I could breastfeed a stranger’s baby just for kicks. I hate to think what would have happened if Mr. Chong – or worse, his wife – had walked in while I was in the act.”

Years later, McLaren now has children of her own and says, “I have two or three times breastfed my friends’ babies and let my babies, in turn, be fed by them. “And here’s the odd thing I found about breastfeeding another mother’s infant: It doesn’t actually feel odd at all.”

She finished her post with a word of encouragement for anyone who hasn’t tried co-feeding.

“In any case, this is all to say that breastfeeding is a lovely and marvellous thing, as is co-feeding and everyone should do it. Just don’t try it with a stranger’s baby in a bedroom at a party if you are 25 and stupid.”

The reaction to the article wasn’t positive and The Globe decided to take it down, however, an archived copy was discovered.

The archived column lit up social media, with many describing McLaren’s behaviour as inappropriate and verging on assault. Others questioned why the Globe and Mail had published the column in the first place. The newspaper did not reply to a request for comment, reports The Guardian.

On Monday, Chong confirmed McLaren’s claim. “Incident happened over 10 years ago. It was no doubt odd, but of no real consequence,” he wrote on Twitter. “Let’s focus on the important challenges facing Canada.”

See some of the memes that are now doing the rounds below.

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  • woah that must be the mothering instinct kicking in!

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  • Strange reaction to seeing a baby – maybe too much vino at the time.

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  • I have a friend who tried the same thing. She was babysitting an exceptionally difficult baby. He had been crying for ages and nothing she did seemed to calm him. So she attempted to breastfeed him, even tho she had no kids, no milk. Of course he didn’t take it. I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone else breastfeeding my baby, with or without permission, with or without extreme need

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  • That’s way too wierd for me. If she was able to breastfeed and could help in an emergency or the Mum has been held up somewhere and could be quite awhile fair enough, especially if you know the baby is hungry and you had nothing else suitable for the baby. Some babies will not take their first bottle of formula from a stranger either.

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  • That is exceptionally freaky and she’s lucky he just took the baby and left and didn’t call the police, etc…

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  • I’d have flipped my wig at a stranger just for thinking they are in any way allowed to touch or even go near my baby without my permission let alone her trying to feed him.

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  • Breastfeeding another ones baby with that persons permissions is ok to me, but without permission I find this totally unacceptable. I was once confronted with a stranger sticking her finger in my childs mouth and I found it very disturbing, I also wouldn’t appreciate this from someone I know or a friend.

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  • OK that was rather disturbing to me. And frankly, very creapy. I would only breastfeed someone else’s baby if I had breast milk and if that baby desperately needed it and the mother gave me permission to do it.

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  • I don’t think I could have fed someone else’s baby unless it was necessary to save another baby’s life.

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  • Um, just a little disturbing for me – the first part of the story that is. I’ve never heard or know of anyone that has breastfed other people’s children. Not for me, but this seems to becoming a thing.

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  • Interesting. Thank you for sharing the article.

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  • I think in an emergency situation I would feed a stranger’s baby, like yhe police officer in america did but to just casually whip out a boob because I can is not something I would do

    Reply

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