U.S. Senate needs to welcome baby Duckworth with open arms

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It’s tough enough being a woman in politics (see my recent op-ed), but today I was surprised to read Sen. Tammy Duckworth, the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office, is having to appeal Senate rules to be allowed to take her newborn baby on the floor during session.

This is a no-brainer folks. It would make no sense to prohibit this hard-working mom from being able to take care of her child while also doing her job representing the people of Illinois in the Senate.

I’m reminded of the woman in the Australian Parliament who breastfed her baby while moving a motion. Last summer Larissa Waters was speaking about black lung disease, while feeding her 14-week-old daughter Alia Joy on the parliament floor. Prior to that the Water made history for breastfeeding during session. She’s not the only one. Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir breastfed in during a session of parliament in Iceland.

It’s time for America to play catch-up to the rest of the world. Most developed countries and civilized nations recognize and understand a parent can and is able to do their jobs and be their for their newborns or infants.

We are at a time in our nation where strong women should be looked at and encouraged in our workforce, particularly in politics where women as a whole are underrepresented.

As the mother of two small children (the oldest about to start kindergarten… please don’t even make me think about that), I took my children with me everywhere I went for most of their earliest years. As a nursing mother it was important for them to be able to be at the office with me and both children went to work and meetings with me regularly in their first year and half of life. As a mother who values an attachment parenting style it was critical for me to be able to bond with my kids while still being able get the job done. In my particular case that meant my daughter being at my office on The Hill within weeks of her birth for me to work through the State of the Union.

The fact that the Senate has to change their rules in 2018 to allow this new mother (or new parents regardless of gender) to have a child on the floor is long overdue. Hopefully it doesn’t take very much time to make this allowance and hopefully commonsense and decency will prevail in a place not necessarily known for either.

This is great opportunity for our nation’s lawmakers to set the standard all workplaces around the country should adopt. Working women should not only feel welcomed to have their young children at at work, they should feel encouraged to do so.

The need to update this rule, serves to show what a long way we still have to go as a country in making our workforce both welcoming for women, and also encouraging to families who want to bond with their young children. Not just for mothers and their children, but for fathers as well.

Congratulations Sen. Duckworth on baby Maile Pearl. Here’s to hoping the Senate takes care of this antiquated rule ASAP.

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