When it comes to breastfeeding ‘to each their own’ I say. Whether you want to breastfeed or you choose to use formula or source alternative breastmilk, the choice is yours. If you want to leave the kid with your sister and she breastfeeds your child and you’re both okay with that, then why not? However, choosing to breastfeed your baby is a deeply personal choice and I can’t imagine how I’d feel if that decision was taken out of my hands.
A column by Canadian writer Leah McLaren has gone viral after she confessed she tried to feed a stranger’s baby at a party many years ago when she was 25-years-old. After going upstairs to reapply her lipstick, Leah entered a bedroom to find “the cutest baby I’d ever seen”.
“Somehow, my pinky finger ended up in his mouth and I was astonished at the strength of his sucking reflex,” Leah 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.”
Leah then proceeded to unbutton her blouse with the intention of dry breastfeeding the baby when the baby’s father, Michael Chong, now a prominant Canadian politician, walked into the room and took the child. Michael has confirmed the incident happened on Twitter calling it “odd but of no real consequence”.
Leah admits that it was “wrong and rude and frankly a bit weird” for her to think of breastfeeding a stranger’s baby “just for kicks”. Now a mother herself she said: “I think if I found a strange woman – one who was both childless and milkless – nursing my baby at a party I’d be inclined to give her a swift smack upside the head and then call the police.” However she is still a strong supporter of co-feeding, continuing to say in her column that she has let friends breastfed her babies and she has breastfed her friend’s babies.
The social media response has been huge with many calling out Leah for her behaviour, and after wide condemnation the column has been deleted from the Globe and Mail website.
If I was the mother of this baby I would be devastated because the issue here is not so much of co-feeding, but of consent. Co-feeding is about women sharing breastfeeding by choice, and having that choice taken away would feel like a complete violation. Breastfeeding a friend’s baby with their permission is worlds away from picking up an stranger’s baby and trying to feed it. Let’s support women to make indvidual choices about how to feed their children without taking away their rights to decide what’s best for their babies.
How would you react to someone trying to breastfeed your baby?