Tammy Duckworth will be the first US senator to give birth while in office

Senator Tammy Duckworth
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Senator Tammy Duckworth

On Tuesday, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth told the Chicago Sun-Times that she is six months pregnant.

Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey are expecting their second child in April, at which time she would become the first Senator to give birth while serving in the chamber. Ten members of Congress have given birth while in office.

"I feel great," she told the Sun-Times. She also tweeted about her "exciting personal news."

Her colleagues are also excited for her. "I am proud to have her as my Illinois colleague and prouder still that she will make history by being the first U.S. Senator to have a baby while in office. I couldn't be happier for her," said Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement. "I have learned to never underestimate Tammy Duckworth."

Duckworth won Illinois' 8th Congressional District seat in November of 2012 and gave birth to her first child, Abigail, in 2014 while serving in Congress.

She took 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, during which time, she decided to run for Senate. Duckworth also revealed to the Sun-Times that during her 2016 Senate campaign, she suffered a miscarriage.

"As tough as it's been to juggle motherhood and the demands of being in the House and now the Senate, it's made me more committed to doing this job," she says. "I have a better understanding in a way that I didn't have."

Since becoming a mother, Duckworth has authored legislation about the breastfeeding facilities in airports, parental leave for military members, and on-campus child care for student parents. In her office, mothers receive 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and spouses receive six weeks of paid parental leave.

Most Americans however, are not as fortunate. While the Family and Medical Leave Act requires some employers to give mothers 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, few Americans qualify for any paid family leave. According to the Department of Labor, only 12 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employer.

In fact, the United States is the only developed nation to not offer any kind of paid parental leave.

By contrast, all mothers in New Zealand receive 22 weeks of paid parental leave. When New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she is pregnant last week, she stressed that she is not the first person to give birth while working a job.

"I'm not the first woman to work and have a baby," she said. "I know these are special circumstances but they'll be many women who will have done this well before I have."

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