Queensland senator first to breastfeed in Australian parliament

Australian Senator Larissa Waters breastfeeding her baby at Parliament House in Canberra, on May 9, 2017.
Australian Senator Larissa Waters breastfeeding her baby at Parliament House in Canberra, on May 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Australian senator Larissa Waters became the first mother to breastfeed her baby in Parliament on Tuesday (May 9).

The left-wing Greens Party co-deputy leader fed two-month-old daughter Alia Joy during a vote, right after returning from maternity leave.

The Senate has allowed breastfeeding since 2003, and the Lower House since last year, but no member of parliament has done so in either House.

"I hope she doesn't squawk her head off too much, but she's probably going to be better behaved than many of the people in that room," the Queensland senator told Australia's Courier Mail before the Parliament session.

Ms Waters, 40, is a mother of two. Her husband, Jeremy Gates, has scaled back his digital marketing agency to be a full-time father, the Mail reported.

Last year, the Australian Parliament changed rules that banned children from the chamber. Lawmakers are now allowed to nurse their babies in the House.

The change in rules was triggered by a backlash after Kelly O'Dwyer, a government minister, was asked to consider expressing milk to avoid missing parliamentary duties, BBC said.

"I am so proud that my daughter Alia is the first baby to be breastfed in the federal Parliament!

"We need more women and parents in Parliament. And we need more family-friendly and flexible workplaces, and affordable childcare, for everyone," Waters, who fought for the change, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

Ms Waters is not the first in the world to nurse a child in parliament.

Icelandic MP Unnur Bra Konraosdottir nursed her six-week-old daughter last October while speaking in parliament. It was a first for the European country.

She said it was unexpected, but her daughter was hungry when another MP spoke on a Bill she had put forward.

Ms Konraosdottir said it was "less disruptive" than interrupting the feed, as her daughter would bawl.

Spanish MP Carolina Bescansa also breastfed her son in parliament early last year, but some criticised the politician for her "attention-seeking" behaviour.

The Podemos MP had promised to breastfeed in parliament during her campaign.

Italian politician Licia Ronziulli's daughter has grown up in parliament, according to the BBC report.

She and her baby were first pictured in the European parliament in September 2010 when the child was six weeks old.

Photos of the mother and daughter have appeared many times since.