Nebraska state senator praised for breastfeeding baby on Legislature floor: 'Legislate like a mom'

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh breastfed her “bipartisan” baby on the job. (Photo: Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh via Facebook)
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh breastfed her “bipartisan” baby on the job. (Photo: Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh via Facebook)

A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do — even if it means breastfeeding her baby on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature.

As the Omaha World-Herald reports, a Nebraska lawmaker and mother of three went into multitasking mama mode when bad weather threatened to wreak havoc on her schedule. Rather than risk missing floor debates or committee hearings — or let her child down — state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh brought her 6-month-old baby in and breastfed him during Legislature proceedings.

“I didn’t put a lot of thought into it,” Cavanaugh, who represents Omaha’s Sixth District, told the newspaper. “He’s my third, so it’s kind of on autopilot at this point. Normally when I’m nursing, I’m usually multitasking. I wanted to hear the floor debate that was happening, so I just sat down at my desk because that was more comfortable than standing off to the side.

“Barrett won’t take formula — I say he’s a gentleman of discerning taste — and I don’t have an oversupply of milk, so he had to come with me,” she added.

Cavanaugh shared a photo of her mommy moment on Facebook, confirming that she is the first Nebraska state senator to nurse on the Legislature floor. She proudly added the hashtag #legislatelikeamom to the post, which is being hailed for showing the realities of working mom life.

“The only thing shocking about this is that you’re the first one!!” read one comment. “Way to go! Legislate like a mother!!!”

“I nursed my daughter during a tour of the state capitol, but this takes it to a whole other level,” added a fellow mom. “Congratulations and thank you for helping to normalize breastfeeding and supporting the rights of mothers!!”

“Great job on balancing motherhood and your position as an elected official,” wrote a supporter. “I bet your district is really proud of you!”

“You are a QUEEN!” raved another commenter. “Thank you so much for giving 100% to your baby AND your job!”

Cavanaugh has won praise for her multitasking. (Photo: Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh via Facebook)
Cavanaugh has won praise for her multitasking. (Photo: Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh via Facebook)

Cavanaugh’s breastfeeding of “bipartisan Barrett” has also inspired her to make it easier for other nursing mothers in her state.

“I wanted to let you know that today I introduced LB 709, which will create a space in the capitol building for nursing parents to express breast milk that 1) Is not in a bathroom, 2) Is a private space 3) Has electrical outlets and running water,” she told a Facebook commenter. “The space will be available to legislators, staff, and visitors to the capitol.”

“Normalizing breastfeeding is really important, and so in some ways, it’s sad that it’s 2019 and women aren’t able to take care of their children in the way they need to without concern,” she said in her interview with the Omaha World-Herald. “But also, I’m proud to be a part of bringing more visibility to the issue and showing people that it is a normal thing and it’s not a big deal.”

She’s in good company. Last April, Sen. Tammy Duckworth — the first sitting U.S. senator to give birth while in office — spearheaded a rule change that allows senators to bring children up to age 1 onto the Senate floor, and allows women to breastfeed during votes. And in September, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made headlines when she brought her infant daughter to the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

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