MP Stella Creasy Slams The Idea That 'Motherhood Has To Be A Struggle And A Juggle'

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Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Stella Creasy has been advocating for better rights for mothers, with initiatives such as 'Stop the Breast Pest’, to make it a criminal offence to photograph breastfeeding woman, and 'This Mum Votes' to encourage mothers of young children to stand for office.

And towards the end of last year, she defended her right to bring her then three-month old son to parliament, after being reprimanded for doing so.

Now, the labour MP has opened up about her struggles with infertility, maternity pay and being a working mum in politics.

In an interview with The Times, the mother-of-two said: 'People say motherhood has to be a struggle and a juggle — when did we agree that? When did we go, "Yeah, this basic thing that humanity has to do to keep existing, we’re going to make it really hard."'

Creasy - whose plea for better maternity cover for MPs has been received negatively by some who refer to her as: 'Privileged. Elitist. Out of touch' - spoke to the news outlet about her infertility struggles and two miscarriages that occurred ahead of welcoming her first child, two-year-old Hettie.

'Infertility and miscarriages are a lonely experience,' she said.

'They change the conversation from "Do I want children?" to "Can I have children?", which is more existential,' she added.

Opening about one tragic pregnancy, Creasy recalled feeling as though something 'wasn’t quite right', and after a second scan, the sonographer told her the heartbreaking news that her baby had died.

Speaking of her experience, she said: 'I was completely floored by it.

'I was in such a daze that I left the clinic and walked straight out into the road and got beeped at by traffic. From then on I made Dan come to every appointment.'

Following this tragedy, Creasy campaigned against the policy prohibiting partners from attending baby scans during the pandemic.

'I hate the word, but it’s "triggering" to be scanned once you’ve been through that, she explained.

'I couldn’t cope with the stress of coming in on my own.'

Since then, the NHS has now guided hospitals to allow partners to attend.

Referring to the difficulty she had when it came to being pregnant with son Isaac (nicknamed 'Pip', after Creasy’s father and grandfather), now five months, Creasy revealed she suffered from gestational diabetes, a high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy, as per the NHS.

Though it usually disappears after giving birth, it can cause problems for mother and baby during and after pregnancy if not detected early and if not managed.

Continuing to speak of Isaac, who she had to have early, at 37 weeks, she added: 'That feeling is visceral. I kept keeling over and turning up in hospital. I also went to the hospital a couple of times, terrified that I couldn’t feel him moving.'

Having had an early birth, Creasy felt pressured when it came to discussing her maternity leave and cover with parliament officials.

'I had to negotiate twice while heavily pregnant. The second time I was in and out of hospital, desperately wanting quick answers,' Creasy recalled of her experience.

Backbench MPs are permitted to take 'informal' maternity leave, entitling them to six months paid leave, however particular duties, including speaking in debates, cannot be covered on their behalf during their absence.

'MPs don’t take maternity leave', Creasy recalled of a letter she previously received from parliament.

She eventually 'shamed' them, winning a battle to have the first 'locum' MP, Kizzy Gardiner, cover her constituency work.

Creasy, 44, who in November of last year attended a debate about buy-now-pay-later schemes in Westminster Hall with her sleeping baby strapped to her chest, also spoke out against Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who had supported the rule barring babies from the Commons chamber.

She said: 'I was incredibly disappointed to hear the Speaker repeating this narrative — interrogating a woman’s choices about how she looks after her child — rather than going, "We need to make this work for everyone."'

Referring to her longtime partner of 14 years, Dan Fox, she added: 'Dan’s a very talented person but he can’t actually breastfeed.

'And anyone who has tried to breastfeed a young baby knows that it is impractical to leave the baby at nursery and go back and forth. The reason I have the baby with me is because I don’t have cover.'

Rules aside, Creasy has also reflected on one occasion in particular where she was unimpressed by someone's question surrounding her life as a mum.

'One of my colleagues said to me — which I thought was quite insulting — "Are you less mad now you’re a mum?"' she recalled.

After recalling that encounter, Creasy went on to say: 'Just generally. That’s what we do to women — "Oh, you’re excitable, you’re emotional." But the truth about becoming a mum is that you have to be more focused on the time you do have.'

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