Today, I spoke in Parliament about introducing proxy votes for MPs who become new parents. MPs would be able to nominate a colleague who would then vote on their behalf. I hope that this change will be made soon as there are three MPs who have given birth recently and two MPs who are expecting.

When I gave birth on Good Friday last year, I didn’t expect to be fighting a general election within a matter of weeks. Baby Theo was just four days old when the prime minister decided to call the snap election. For the next two months, I had to balance campaigning with breastfeeding, nappy changing and adapting to life with a new-born. Let’s just say it wasn’t how my husband and I imagined spending our first few weeks with our son.

After the election, I was absent from Parliament for six months and I relied on the pairing system, a gentleman’s agreement between the government and opposition whips in which a government MP and an opposition MP agree not to vote and to cancel each other out. Although during that time, barely a day went by when I didn’t deal with a constituency matter.

Parliament is an institution that doesn’t like change and working there is like stepping back in time. There isn’t a proper system of maternity or paternity leave. We need proxy voting which would enable MPs to nominate a colleague to vote on their behalf. Some maintain that the pairing system works well but there are three major problems with relying on pairing.

First, pairing often breaks down or is suspended on close votes. Tory Party chairman, Brandon Lewis, recently broke his pair by mysteriously forgetting that he had been paired with Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, who had given birth three weeks prior to the vote. The government gave the lame excuse that it was an “administrative error.”

Second, new mums have been unfairly attacked for missing votes. A national newspaper described me as the MP with the second worst voting record without mentioning that I was on maternity leave. A few years ago, one of my colleagues in the same situation was branded one of Britain’s laziest MPs. Ironically it was a lazy journalist who didn’t bother to check his facts.

Third, only proxy voting would allow MP who are new parents to represent their constituents and vote in parliament by nominating a colleague while they are looking after their new-born.

Given that there are four opposition MPs currently on maternity leave  I hope that the House of Commons will be given a chance to introduce proxy votes to new parents and start to drag parliament into the 21st century.

I recently wrote about proxy votes in The Mirror.