Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, spoke of being “cut off” by the Whitehall machine when she took maternity leave for the second time as a minister.
Ms Cooper, who was minister for housing and regeneration at the time, said she had to “fight” to be kept up to speed with developments after she gave birth to her third child, Madelyn, in 2004.
Civil servants were “very unsupportive” at the time, she told BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.
She said: “They almost tried to cut me off completely from everything. And so it became a bit of a fight, and not wanting me to see any papers while I was away.
“You end up having to have a bit of a fight about it throughout. That is quite a stressful thing to do when you're on maternity leave.”
Ms Cooper and her husband, the shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, have three children.