Sen. Tammy Duckworth Thought She Had 'No Right' Having A Baby At 49

by Erica Gerald Mason
US Senator Tammy Duckworth holding her newborn in her arms while having a big smile on her face.
Alex Wong/Getty

During the senator’s conversation with People, she voiced concerns that many older mothers experience as their pregnancy progresses

Sen. Tammy Duckworth gave voice to many of the fears women have about “doing enough” during their pregnancies. The Illinois senator (who is 53) spoke about the conflicting emotions she felt during her pregnancy with three-year-old daughter Maile. Duckworth, who is also mom to Abigail, seven, sometimes wondered if she “had the right” to have another baby during her pregnancy with Maile.

“It was scary. I was like, ‘Am I doing enough? Am I not doing enough? Should I exercise? Should I not exercise?’ ” she told People. “I did pilates with Abigail all the way until … well into my third trimester before I finally stopped. And that really helped with my recovery.”

But Duckworth says she was worried if the exercise was stressing Maile in utero during her pregnancy, adding that she was “just really, really scared the whole time.”

“Am I doing right by this child? Maybe I have no right having a baby at 49 years old,” she says. “Who am I to jeopardize this child out of my own selfishness, as an older woman wanting to have a child? You go through all of that, right? Am I hurting this child because my body can’t give her everything that she needs?” the senator went on. “And my doctors were like, ‘No, you’re fine. You’re doing everything right. You’re healthy. Your baby’s healthy.’ ”

After Maile was safely delivered, Duckworth (who became the first senator to give birth while in office) issued a public statement.

“We’re also so grateful for the love and support of our friends and family, as well as our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family,” Duckworth said in a statement at the time, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and one that affects all parents – men and women alike,” she continued in the statement. “As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere,” she continued.

Ever one to practice what she preaches, the BBC reports Duckworth authored several bills in 2018 to help new mothers, including a bill that would make airports a safe place for nursing mothers.