A Labour MP has breastfed her 3-month-old daughter in Parliament's debating chamber.

Willow-Jean Prime said it made a real difference to be able to take Heeni into debates.

"Heeni is only 3 months old. So she is following me around at the moment because I am her mama, I am her main food supply.

"And now we are officially sitting in Parliament, and the committee has amended the standing orders to allow Heeni to come into the House, and other babies of MPs, we were thrown into that situation today and it all worked perfectly."

Advertisement
Speaker Trevor Mallard and Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime, with her daughter Heeni. Photo / Nicholas Jones
Speaker Trevor Mallard and Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime, with her daughter Heeni. Photo / Nicholas Jones

After being elected Speaker yesterday, Labour MP Trevor Mallard noted the gurgles of babies in the public galleries above the debating chamber, and said one of his goals would be to make Parliament a more family-friendly environment.

Prime, a Northland-based list MP who entered Parliament after September's election, said it made a real difference to have her daughter with her. Her husband and mother have also been at Parliament when possible, to help out.

"It means I can actually do this job. And also have a family - raise a family. 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. But also to be here representing my communities in the House of Representatives."

Prime said she hoped her breastfeeding in the House would help send a message to other parents.

"Parliament is trying to accommodate me and other parents, so we don't have to choose between careers and families ... I see it as role-modelling and setting an example.

"Many families, both parents are working. I'm so pleased that tonight we are going to look at extending paid parental leave. That will make a huge difference to working families."

In May Australian Senator Larissa Waters became the first to breastfeed in Australia's Parliament.