US & Canada

Leah McLaren column on breastfeeding stranger's baby goes viral

Leah McLaren on Facebook Image copyright Facebook
Image caption "I was astonished at the strength of his sucking reflex," Leah McLaren wrote of the baby

Is it ever OK to breastfeed someone else's baby? That's the question raised by a viral Canadian newspaper column.

Globe and Mail writer Leah McLaren wrote that she tried to nurse a politician's infant at a dinner party more than a decade ago, even though she was not herself lactating.

Conservative MP Michael Chong, the father of the baby boy, has confirmed the incident, calling it "odd".

Last week's column was quickly deleted, but has spawned the hashtag #lacgate.

In the article, Ms McLaren recalled being at a party in Toronto that she described as "casual and expensively lubricated".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Neither the newspaper nor Ms McLaren (not pictured) has commented about the article

Feeling "broody", she said she wandered upstairs looking for a bathroom only to enter a bedroom and find "the cutest baby I'd ever seen".

She said she picked him up for a cuddle.

"Somehow, my pinky finger ended up in his mouth and I was astonished at the strength of his sucking reflex," Ms McLaren wrote. "'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."

She decided she would try to breastfeed the infant anyway out of curiosity, but was interrupted by Mr Chong.

Image copyright Twitter/Michael Chong
Image caption Canadian politician Michael Chong responded to the column on Twitter

"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," wrote Ms McLaren.

Mr Chong, who is currently running for the leadership of the federal Conservatives, confirmed the incident on Twitter on Monday.

He said people should focus on more important national issues.

Neither the newspaper nor Ms McLaren has commented about the article.

Another Canadian journalist said on Twitter the Globe and Mail editors liked the "surreal premise", but spiked it for legal reasons.

It inspired another column from a writer who disclosed how she once breastfed her sister's baby without telling her.

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