World News

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Is Expected to Have Her Baby Soon

Posted June 20, 2018 6:05 p.m. EDT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand whose youth and surprise rise to power have made her a global celebrity, traveled early Thursday to an Auckland hospital where she was expected to give birth to her first child, her office said in a statement.

Ardern, 37, would be the first world leader in almost three decades to give birth while in office, and her pregnancy has prompted a national conversation about working mothers.

Before her election last year, she told an interviewer that it was “unacceptable” to quiz women about whether they intended to have children. When she announced her pregnancy in January, Ardern said she would not be “the first woman to multitask,” nor the first “to work and have a baby.”

Once her child is born, Ardern will take six weeks of parental leave. When she returns to work, her partner, Clarke Gayford, who hosts a television show about fishing, will become a stay-at-home father.

The pair said Gayford and their child would travel with Ardern whenever possible.

Winston Peters, the deputy prime minister, officially assumed the role of acting prime minister once Ardern was admitted to Auckland Hospital, the largest public hospital in the country.

Ardern was given a due date of June 17. On the advice of her doctors, she has remained in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, since June 11. She has been working from home since then, instead of from her offices at Parliament in Wellington, the capital.

Ardern’s long-shot victory last year, which made her the country’s youngest leader in 150 years, crystallized a moment of national enthusiasm known as Jacindamania. Her pregnancy again gave normally reserved New Zealanders an opportunity for a rare public display of excitement.

Ardern said she had been flooded with gifts before the baby’s arrival, but that she returned or donated any that were sent to her by companies, and kept only personal presents from people she knew.

A group of knitters started a campaign called #KnitforJacinda to donate knitted baby goods to New Zealand hospitals for distribution to families.

Ardern and Grayford have yet to reveal their baby’s gender and recently admitted they had struggled with deciding on a name.

At her last news conference before she left the capital, Ardern said the process of choosing a name for the baby was going “terribly.”

“Do you have any suggestions?” she asked reporters.

The last sitting world leader to give birth was Benazir Bhutto, who had her second child in 1990 while she was the prime minister of Pakistan.