New Zealand prime minister gives birth to healthy baby girl

2018-06-21 09:24

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave birth to a baby girl in an Auckland hospital on Thursday, becoming only the second world leader to do so while in office.

It was the first child for the 37-year-old and her 40-year-old partner Clarke Gayford, with the new arrival weighing in at 3.3kg.

"I'm sure we're going through all of the emotions new parents go through, but at the same time feeling so grateful for all the kindness and best wishes from so many people. Thank you," Ardern said.

She added on Instagram that the baby was healthy and doing well.

"We're all doing really well thanks to the wonderful team at Auckland City Hospital."

The charismatic Ardern follows Pakistan's prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1990 as the only women in recorded history to give birth while in power, but she downplayed the significance.

"Lots of people juggle a lot of things in their personal and private lives, and I'm not unusual in that. Plenty of women have multitasked before me, and I want to acknowledge that," she said when revealing the pregnancy in January.

The birth capped an eventful year for Ardern who became prime minister last October, three months after inheriting the leadership of the Labour Party when it was languishing in the polls.

When no party won sufficient support in the election to form a government, she was anointed prime minister by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, the kingmaker in a three-party coalition also involving the Greens.

Peters, who became Ardern's deputy, is now acting prime minister while she takes six weeks maternity leave, although she will continue to be consulted on significant issues.

New Zealand opposition leader Simon Bridges offered congratulations.

"Being parents is a joy and a privilege and we are sure your new arrival will fill your lives with all the happiness our children have ours," he said.

Sexism row

Ardern, who refused to discuss plans for motherhood during the election campaign, waited until January to reveal on Facebook she had conceived and was going to be "prime minister and a mum".

Her plans for a family had sparked a sexism row during the election when a television host quizzed her on the issue, saying voters had a right to know before they cast their ballots.

She rejected the line of questioning as "unacceptable", saying pregnancy and child rearing should not hinder women's opportunities in the workplace.

"It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children and it should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities," she said then.

Pakistan's Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, gave birth in January 1990 to her daughter Bakhtawar who now describes herself on Twitter as "1st child born to a sitting female Prime Minister".

Ardern was due on June 17 and had said she did not want the pregnancy to drag on and was prepared to be induced if necessary.

The prime minister and Gayford, who hosts a television fishing show, had known the sex of the baby for several months but decided to keep it secret from the public.

Read more on:    jacinda ardern  |  new zealand
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