New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Had Her Baby & She Just Keeps Making History
New Zealand's youngest prime minister since 1856 just made history yet again. Jacinda Ardern delivered a baby girl early Thursday morning, making her just the second world leader in modern history to give birth while in office.
Ardern announced the news on Instagram, posting a picture of herself holding the little babe, alongside her partner, Clarke Gayford. "Welcome to our village wee one," Ardern wrote, adding she was "feeling very lucky to have a healthy baby girl that arrived at 4.45pm weighing 3.31kg (7.3lb)."
Ardern is no stranger to record-setting. When she first joined New Zealand's parliament in 2008 at 28 years old, she became the youngest member of parliament (MP) in the nation's history. By that point, Ardern already had more than one government position under her belt. She had just returned to New Zealand from a job in Prime Minister Tony Blair's government in London, and had previously worked as an adviser in the administration of Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand.
And with her planned six-week maternity leave, Ardern will set herself apart yet again. After Benazir Bhutto gave birth in 1990 (also to a baby girl), the prime minister of Pakistan did not go on maternity leave. That makes Ardern the first world leader to ever do so.
In an earlier interview with the BBC, Ardern was asked if she felt the pressure — of projecting strength as prime minister, of the upcoming task of motherhood, of being "all things to all people" at once. Ardern responded, "I think every woman feels that." She later went on to say, "Any woman that I talk to, whether or not they're in work or a stay-at-home mom feels an expectation they're meant to be the other thing."
Rather than express angst over her own dual roles, Ardern said she thought balancing her roles may be somewhat easier than what most women face. "I think, if anything, it's slightly different for me," she told the BBC. "People know that I have to be the prime minister. So there's less guilt in there because I have this existing responsibility."
Ardern first announced her pregnancy in January, just a few months following her meteoric rise in the Labour Party that resulted in her election as prime minister. According to Ardern, she learned she was pregnant just six days before being sworn into office as PM. And for Ardern, that meant her first several weeks in office were accompanied by morning sickness. In response to a reporter's question on how she went about running the government while dealing with morning sickness, Ardern replied, "It's just what ladies do."
Ardern announced her pregnancy alongside Gayford, who she said would assume the role of primary caretaker once their baby was born. In a 2016 interview, Gayford told the New Zealand Herald that he and Ardern met after he wrote the then-MP a letter of complaint over privacy concerns raised by the Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill. She wrote back, the two met for coffee, and then had a few more coffees.
Gayford said of Ardern, "She's definitely been the best thing that's ever happened to me." He also lauded her work ethic, telling the Herald, "I didn't know what it meant to work hard until I started seeing what she does on a daily basis." Gayford has hosted radio and television programs, and is known in New Zealand for his devotion to fishing. Ardern told reporters in January that Gayford would become the "first man of fishing."
With the birth of her daughter and planned maternity leave, Ardern can't seem to stop making history.