Not many women who were 42 weeks pregnant could say they had cycled to hospital to give birth.
But that’s just what New Zealand Green Party politician Julie Genter did, and she made news headlines around the world.
Genter, 38, Minister for Women, as well as Associate Transport and Associate Health Minister, posted a picture on Instagram saying she had travelled with her partner, by bicycle, to Auckland City hospital to have an induction. The reason? There wasn’t enough room in the car ‘for the support crew’, she said.
New Zealand’s Minister For Women Cycled To Hospital To Give Birth
In a comment under her Instagram post, Genter makes mention her bicycle is an e-bike, which means she probably had some help from its electric motor. She also points out the ride to hospital was “mostly downhill”, adding she “probably should have cycled more in the last few weeks to get the labour going”.
A well known advocate for cycling, Genter included the activity in her pregnancy announcement on Facebook. “Peter and I have some amazing news! We’re going to have to get an additional seat for the bikes – in the first week of August we’re expecting our first child”.
Genter was heading to the same public hospital in which Prime Minister Jacinda Adern gave birth recently. Genter said the ride put her in the “best possible mood”; she also received positive comments about being a great role model.
Following the birth, Ms Genter expects to take three month’s leave from Parliament and plans to return in November. This comes only weeks after Prime Minister Adern returned from six weeks’ maternity leave, following the birth of her daughter.
New Zealand Leading The Way
Speaking at a Green Party conference, party leader James Shaw said Genter’s decision to cycle to hospital was “very on brand”.
“I’m very proud to be a member of a party that supports that, and proud to be living in a country where two members of the country’s executive are able to have children as part of their job”, Shaw said.
Not only is New Zealand getting it right with one of the best maternity care systems in the world, it seems it is far more progressive than most developed countries when it comes mixing babies and politics.
Labour’s Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was the first cabinet minister in the Commonwealth.In 1970, she was also the first woman to give birth while serving as an MP. She returned to work a mere two weeks later with her daughter May-Ana in tow.
Former National MP, Ruth Richardson, pushed to be able to breastfeed at work in the mid 1980s. Largely due to her efforts, a special room was set up near the chamber so women could breastfeed. Today, MPs who are breastfeeding can do so in the debating chamber.
In the 1990s, a child care centre was established in Parliament and a playground is being built on the grounds to create a more family-friendly environment. It’s not uncommon to see the Speaker of the House holding a baby while members debate.
The Green Party tweeted about Genter’s pedal-powered trip to the hospital as “the most #onbrand thing ever”.
Genter’s commitment to the environment is admirable, and we’re also pretty impressed with her dedication to exercise during pregnancy; it’s one of the best ways to prepare for the physical demands of labour.
Leading health experts all advocate for moderate, low-impact exercise during a low-risk pregnancy. They encourage women to keep up with their daily exercise or activities for as long as they are comfortable.