Meet the hero mum MPs breastfeeding in parliaments around the world

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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On Tuesday, new mum and Australian Senator Larissa Waters was doing one of the most natural things in the world: breastfeeding her two-month-old daughter, Alia Joy.

But she just so happened to be taking part in a parliamentary vote at the time, making her the first politician in Australian history to breastfeed her child during parliament and a new hero for working mums across the world.

However, this landmark moment is not the first time a woman has breastfed her child in parliament, and here takes a look at the politicians from Iceland to Argentina who are also defying outdated traditions to prove that motherhood and having a career can indeed go hand in hand.

Of course, this also serves to highlight the frankly ridiculous fact that politicians in the UK are still banned from breastfeeding in the House of Commons.

But for now, read on and cross your fingers that we’ll soon catch up with our more forward-thinking neighbours...

Larissa Waters, Australia

Australian Senator Larissa Waters made history on Tuesday when she became the first politician to breastfeed in the country's parliament.

An ecstatic Waters took to Twitter to share a photo of herself grinning (above) as she fed two-month-old daughter Alia Joy during the vote, writing, “So proud that my daughter Alia is the first baby to be breastfed in the federal Parliament!

“We need more #women & parents in Parli.”

The moment marked a historic change in Australian law, which was altered last year to allow women to breastfeed in parliament – although Waters is the first woman to do so.

Noting “how far” the country had come, she also shared an image from 2003 that showed Parliament member Kristie Marshall breastfeeding her 11-day-old daughter before question time.

At the time, Marshall was told she had committed a “parliamentary transgression” by breastfeeding and was swiftly escorted out.

Waters is now advocating for more women to breastfeed in parliament, to prove that motherhood can go hand in hand with a career.

“It's frankly ridiculous, really, that feeding one's baby is international news. Women have been breastfeeding for as long as time immemorial,” she told BBC News.

“I had hoped to not only be able to feed my baby but to send a message to young women that they belong in the parliament.”

Carolina Bescansa, Spain

Carolina Bescansa, the co-founder of Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos party, created a stir when she breastfed her baby son, Diego, in parliament last January.

Male MPs in the country were quick to slam Bescansa for her actions, with Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz calling her “lamentable” and Socialist MP Carme Chacon chipping in by saying that he thought the move was “frankly unnecessary”.

However Bescansa, who has taken Diego into Parliament a number of times, defended her decision, stating that she wanted to protect the right of every parent to raise their children in whatever "they are able to or wish to".

Bescansa also took to Twitter yesterday (below) to applaud Larissa Waters for breastfeeding in Parliament, writing, “It is not personal, it is political”.

Victoria Donda Perez, Argentina

In contrast to Carolina Bescansa, Argentinian politician Victoria Donda Perez was hailed as a model for working mothers when she breastfed her child in parliament.

The human rights activist and legislator breastfed her eight-month-old daughter, Trilce, during a parliamentary session in July 2015, and became a hero for working mums across the globe when a photo of her doing so (above) went viral online.

Perez, who became the youngest member of the Argentine National Congress when she was elected at the age of 27 in 2011, continues to own the career/motherhood juggling act by constantly taking Trilce with her to work.

Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, Iceland

Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, an Icelandic MP for the Independence Party, calmly breastfed her six-week-old daughter while speaking on the podium in parliament last October.

She was the first politician in the country to breastfeed while addressing parliament and had declined another MP’s offer to hold her child while she spoke on the podium.

“She was hungry and I had not expected to go to the pulpit," The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reported that she said. “Then another MP was giving statements on a bill that I put forward on the behalf of the Judicial Affairs Committee, to which I had to respond.

“So I either had to tear the baby girl of me and leave her crying with the MP sitting next to me or just take her with me and I thought it would cause less disturbance to take her with me”.

Konráðsdóttir also described breastfeeding to AFP as “the most natural thing in the world” while adding that "it's like any job, you've got to do what you've got to do.”


Anneliese Dodds, UK

Anneliese Dodds, Labour MEP for the South-East of England, has breastfed her baby in European Parliament and champions working mothers everywhere by regularly taking her daughter to work with her.

Last June, Dodds took her then four-month-old daughter to European Parliament – where politicians are allowed to breastfeed during debates – and gave an impassioned speech about tax avoidance with the baby slung casually over her shoulder (above).

Then, on Mother’s Day, she took to Twitter (below) to share another image of herself and her daughter Isabella in parliament, with the message that “we must support working mothers”.

Licia Ronzulli, Italy

Special mention also goes out to Licia Ronzulli, an Italian politician and former MEP who took her daughter, Vittoria, to parliament so often that she practically grew up in the public eye.

Ronzulli first took Vittoria to parliament when she was six weeks old (above), where she slept in a sling while her mother voted.

Speaking to The Guardian in 2010, Ronzulli said the act wasn’t intended to be political – but rather an expression of her love for her daughter.

“It's bizarre. We've been doing a lot, a lot of work in the European parliament and there was no interest in the press. Then I come with my baby and everybody wants to interview me,” she said.

"It was not a political gesture. It was first of all a maternal gesture – that I wanted to stay with my daughter as much as possible, and to remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this."

Images: Rex/Facebook/Twitter