In 2018, Tammy Duckworth became the first woman to give birth while serving as a United States Senator. Recognizing the importance of being able to do her job and care for her infant, Duckworth then led the charge for the United States Senate to pass a rule to allow lawmakers to breastfeed on the Senate floor. Duckworth became the first woman to cast a vote while breastfeeding her infant daughter, Maile. Duckworth proudly proclaimed: “By ensuring that no senator will be prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities simply because they have a young child, the Senate is leading by example and sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies.”
Other states are following suit. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly was inaugurated January 14, 2019 and has already led Kansas to adopt rules permitting mothers to breastfeed on the Kansas state house floor. Governor Kelly explained, “What I would like to do as we move forward is that in every policy that we make and in every regulation that we pass, that we consider the impact on working families, particularly mothers.”
Most of us do not work as national or state lawmakers, but that does not mean that we don’t have rights as working mothers. Don’t be afraid to challenge the norm at your workplace. If something as steeped in tradition as the US Senate can adopt family-friendly rules, then your workplace can and should as well. Visit the Department of Labor’s webpage for guidance on your rights as a working mother.