Who needs an ambulance when you can cycle to the closest hospital? That’s what happened to Julie Anne Genter, a member of New Zealand’s Green Party. She says she always planned on taking a bicycle to the hospital to deliver her daughter, she just wasn’t expecting to do the pedaling herself.
Pedaling Through Labor
Genter said she started having contractions early Sunday morning. The original plan was to have her partner, Peter Nunns, ride a cargo bicycle to the hospital while she rode along in the front, but when they realized the bike couldn’t sustain the weight, she told a local news outlet that she “just got out and rode.” Genter owns an electric cargo bike with a large storage area in the front.
She arrived at the hospital 10 minutes later where she gave birth to a baby girl at around 3 AM local time.
“So glad we didn’t walk!” she told reporters.
She shared the good news on social media and said the contractions were fairly mild starting out, but they got more intense along the way.
“My contractions weren’t that bad when we left at 2 AM to go to the hospital – though they were 2-3 min apart and picking up in intensity by the time we arrived 10 minutes later,” Genter wrote.
“I genuinely wasn’t planning to cycle in labor, but it did end up happening,” Genter wrote. “Feeling blessed to have had excellent care and support from a great team, in what turned out to be a very fast (and happily uncomplicated) birth,” she added.
She will be on maternity leave until April.
“Amazingly now we have a healthy, happy little one sleeping, as is her dad,” she told the press.
New Zealand is known for its humble politicians, many of which would rather drive themselves than take a private yet. Genter rode her bike to the hospital in 2018 when she gave birth to her first child, although she noted that trip was mostly downhill.
Genter’s actions speak to her beliefs as a politician as well. Born in Minnesota and raised in Los Angeles, she’s spent years studying urban planning and how transportation can have a direct effect on people’s lives. As a dual citizen of New Zealand and the U.S., she later got involved in politics in 2006 as a post-grad scholar at the University of Auckland.
Today, she serves as the Green Party’s spokeswoman for transportation and urban development. She regularly touts the benefits of biking for individual health and the environment. She has also spent her career fighting for increased access to safe biking lanes.
Just two weeks before going into labor, she said biking is about more than “road cyclists training, wearing Lycra.”
“I’m talking about my electric cargo bike that can seat three kids in the front and carry a full load of groceries,” she said during a virtual event on emissions reduction and transportation. Genter called her bike “incredibly practical and really cost-effective.”
The other members of the Green Party celebrated the news online. “We love that you cycled to the hospital AGAIN (classic),” they wrote.
Right after she announced her pregnancy back in May, Genter shared an illustration of a mom riding a bike with a baby in a papoose around her chest.
She wrote that having another baby meant that she would need a “bigger cargo bike and more safe separated lanes and well-designed intersections so the kids can get around safely under their own steam as they grow up.”
With a national EMT shortage and the high cost of taking an ambulance, riding a bike to the hospital might make a lot of sense in some cases, especially if the person lives just 10 minutes away. Hopefully, pregnant women won’t have to resort to such extremes, but they might want to get an electric cargo bike with an extra seat just in case.