Parenting News

Willow-Jean Prime has just breastfed her baby in the debating chamber in Parliament - and we love it!

Speaker Trevor Mallard has come through on his promise to make Parliament more family-friendly.

Last year Icelandic politician Unnur Bra Konradsdottir was praised worldwide after delivering a televised parliamentary speech while breastfeeding.
And in May Australian Senator Larissa Waters made history as the first female politician to breastfeed her baby inside Australian Parliament.
Now New Zealand has followed suit with Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime breastfeeding her baby Heeni (pictured above) at the opening of New Zealand's 52nd Parliament today - and becoming our first politician to breastfeed in Parliament, in the debating chamber.
A reporter from Newshub tweeted from Parliament this morning: "Speaker @TrevorMallard promised to make Parliament more family-friendly. @WillowPrime is currently breastfeeding. Job done"
She's not the first to feed a baby on the floor but thanks to recently amended Parliamentary rules, she and other MPs are allowed to have their babies in the House without fear of being ejected by a technicality.
Former National MP Katherine Rich breastfed her baby Georgia in the House in 2002.
In 1983 former National MP Ruth Richardson pushed to be able to breastfeed her baby at work. A special room near the chamber was made available for women to breastfeed, and in the 1990s Parliament established a childcare centre. In 1970, Labour MP Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan returned to work two weeks after giving birth, and looked after her baby in her office.
Willow-Jean Prime represents the Northland electorate. Her second daughter, Heeni Hirere-June Te Kare o Nga Wai Prime, was born in August, just seven weeks out from the general election.
Up until now Kiwi politicians have gone out of the chambers to breastfeed, and the only standing order around breastfeeding in Parliament was one from 2014 which established that the Speaker may use "discretion" to "allow a member to be absent for all or part of a day to breastfeed or care for an infant or child". The standing orders have been amended to allow Prime to bring her baby into the House.
In an interview with the NZ Herald Prime said, "It means I can actually do this job... And at this important time in my baby's life it means I can be there for her, to provide her with what she needs."
In Australia a 2016 rule change was made allowing mothers to breastfeed in Parliament. In 2015 Carolina Bescana was criticised by her colleagues in the Spanish parliament for breastfeeding her son.
After National's Ruth Richardson gave birth in the 1980s a room near the chamber was established for her to breastfeed, and in the 1990s a Parliamentary childcare facility was established.
We hope this will pave the way for wider acceptance of breastfeeding in public. It seems astounding that we live in an era where women are still shamed for this.
We've all heard stories about mothers who've been given "looks" or had comments made; there was the wedding invitation that stipulated mothers breastfeed their babies in the toilet.
Earlier this year Mila Kunis spoke out, revealing in a Vanity Fair interview that she felt "publicly shamed by passersby" while breastfeeding her daughter Wyattsaying.
"I support every woman's choice in what she wants to do and whatever makes them happy, but for me, I did nurse my child and I literally breastfed everywhere," the 32-year-old began.
"There were many times where I didn't bring a cover with me, and so I just did it in a restaurant, in the subway, in the park, at airports and in planes."
"Why did I do it in public? Because I had to feed my child. She's hungry. I need to feed her whether it's out of a bottle or out of my boob, no matter where I was," she concluded, making no apologies.
In June this year a Waikato woman posted online an image of herself breastfeeding her baby in a supermarket to make a similar point to Kunis'.
She said, "I didn't want him to be screaming and kicking around so I decided to feed him in public. I wasn't going to let him starve and I didn't really care what people thought."