How I Took My Baby To PM Theresa May’s Annual Reception At No 10

No 10

Attending PM Theresa May’s annual reception at No.10 with my baby was unlike anything I expected and a positive surprise. Here’s why.

January 2019 started strong, but not that stable for those in the Westminster Village. To mark a fresh start, PM Theresa May kindly invited all MPs for a reception at 10 Downing Street.

My phone rang and on the other side was my husband reminding me that we were invited to attend the reception at No.10 Downing Street that same evening.

I immediately said yes, but once I put the phone down, I realized that I had a slight problem. My life was not the same. I had a four-month old baby boy I did not feel comfortable leaving behind.

I really wanted to go and I welcomed a chance to go out and have a little break from the everyday repetitiveness that comes with having a newborn and being on maternity leave. However, I didn’t want to leave my son with a nanny, especially as I did not have one.

My first two months of motherhood, which were quite challenging to say the least, apart from being blessed with the baby, I was also fortunate to have my mother by my side and the benefit of her unconditional love and support. My mother was there, every step of the way and I could confidently rely on her help and advice with everything.

I can remember the first time I needed to leave my baby, only for an hour,  to go to register his birth, I was so uncomfortable and restless about being separated from him, especially as I was breastfeeding him. As time was progressing, and I was getting more familiar and confident being a mother, I realized that I would not feel comfortable leaving my baby with anyone else than my family.

Leaving a little baby with a nanny now that my mother was not in London, was not something I was ready to entertain and quite frankly I am not sure if I will ever be.

I decided that I wanted to spend as much one on one time with my son Blake Perun while I am on maternity leave and when it is time for me to go back to work, my family and my husband will take care of him.

Until then, I decided to take my baby everywhere I go, and experience new things together.

But let’s face it. Not all the places are open and welcoming for mothers with babies. By contrast, there are probably more pet-friendly places than there are baby-friendly places.

Nevena Bridgen

The Eve of the No.10 reception

The No.10 annual reception was a great test of this, I didn’t know if Downing Street was a baby-friendly place and Prime Minister Theresa May and her staff didn’t know we were coming with the baby. Blake was not quite on the invite.

I got ready and put my little one in a baby carrier harness. As we approached the security check all the policemen were very polite and welcoming. In front of the entrance to the No.10, my husband gave a few interviews to journalists and then we walked through the door.

I didn’t know what to expect or how the staff at No. 10 would respond seeing a little baby attached to myself, but they gave us a warm welcome and were completely friendly and professional.

The reception was well attended and Blake Perun was really well-behaved. It was clear to everyone that he likes to socialize. He did not cry once and was smiling at everyone who approached him with a joyful hello.

As MPs were approaching to see him,  I was worried that he might be overwhelmed but he was happy, looking and exploring their faces. After a while, he fell asleep on his own and I could relax and enjoy the reception. I was pleased that I made the decision to bring him as everything was running smoothly.

Baby friendly No 10

Soon enough, a lovely tall young lady, a member of the Number 10 staff, approached and offered me, without me even having to ask for it, a place to nurse my baby. This came as a pleasant surprise to me. I didn’t expect it at all. “Is there a location for mothers to nurse?”, I asked surprised. “Yes, she said, I can take you to the other room”.  She also made sure that I knew where I could change my baby.

Knowing that there is a quiet space at No.10 that a mother can use to breastfeed or change her baby, or just have a moment in private, made a real difference for me.

Since I’ve become a mum I have declined most invitations for social functions as it would be difficult to attend without leaving my baby. Knowing that mothers and parents can go to No.10 and that there is a space set aside for child and baby care is great news and for new mothers a wonderful experience.

As Mitchell Berry from the PM’s Press Office told me for The Wives Of Westminster, “No. 10 is committed to being a good modern employer by offering help and support to pregnant women and new parents. If employees are pregnant and need to rest during the working day, or if new mothers have returned from maternity leave and require somewhere to breastfeed or express milk, there are locations set aside for these purposes. We also practice family-friendly employment policies that support new families by offering Shared Parental Leave, providing flexible parental leave and pay enabling fathers to take a more active role in caring for their children and reducing the impact on women’s careers.”

Supporting mothers with children makes a great difference

What No. 10 is doing to support the mothers  is a great example of how employers should treat female employees.

What a great example to all employers in the UK! Showing support to mothers in the workplace by providing them a safe space to express breast milk in order not to interrupt the flow of nursing their babies, shows respect and care that can only result in better work relationships and higher commitment to the employer.

As anyone who visits Number 10 will tell you, all mobile phones and cameras have to be left at reception as you enter, but the Prime Minister welcomed a picture with Blake Perun as one of her aides had a camera.

Such a kind gesture of Prime Minister created a great memory for Blake Perun I will be able to show him when he grows up. That’s something we would have missed experiencing together if he had stayed at home.

Nevena Bridgen
Nevena Bridgen

Founder

Nevena Bridgen is the Founder of The Wives of Westminster. She is an opera singer and a wife of MP Andrew Bridgen.

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