Back in the first flush of Jacindamania when her previous hopes of motherhood were not supposed to be discussed, I took the liberty of suggesting it would be wonderful for a Prime Minister to have a baby. I didn't realise then how wonderful it would be.

It's fantastic. I'm not in the habit of melting over babies, I'm ashamed to say I hide when colleagues bring in their little cherub on their last day of parental leave. But the fact we have a young female Prime Minister who can entertain the idea of giving birth at the pinnacle of her career fills me with admiration and makes me immensely proud.

New Zealand's Prime Minister is having a baby. What an amazing country we can be. Can I now take the liberty of hoping the happy couple make another personal announcement soon.

Just about everyone sounds delighted at news of the baby except some women of my age who know what it involves. As mothers they know things I don't but I wonder if they realise the support many of today's young fathers provide. I have seen it in my own family and it is magnificent. Fathercare is calm, firm and adventurous - not as cuddly as Mum but more fun.


Jacinda Ardern sounds completely confident that with her partner's help she can have the baby and come back after six weeks to what is probably the most demanding job in New Zealand. Many are celebrating her decision as another breakthrough for women in politics and proof motherhood is no barrier to even the highest office.

I hope they are right but she has not proved it yet. From what we read, only one other prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, has had a baby in office and Pakistan is not exactly a model of good government. Ardern is entering uncharted water and inside the Labour Party I suspect a few old hands may be looking forward to the happy day with a certain trepidation.

All going well up to the birth, the baby will be great for the new Government. If it doesn't pass National in the next polls, I'll be astonished. A pregnant Prime Minister will be utterly charming and politically inviolate. The June birth will be a media feeding frenzy and every appearance of mother and baby during those six weeks leave will have cameras clicking and a nation clucking.

But then comes the test. Some of those who have been hailing the news as a breakthrough for women this week might not fully realise what a Prime Minister has to do.

A case of papers is delivered to them every day, wherever they are, whatever they are doing. They need to read them before the next day's dispatch arrives. John Key once showed me the contents of his. It would keep me reading for a week. They work on their papers in limos, planes, every spare moment they get between public engagements and media calls that would put pressure enough on most people.

A Prime Minister's decisions set the tone, position, direction and pace of the Government. They are never off the job. Day or night, instant decisions can be needed on questions large and small. Not everything can be delegated or delayed. Staff and colleagues need the boss to make a call they could make but dare not unless they are certain the PM would agree.

Cabinet ministers have only their own portfolios to worry about, and some of those can keep them busy from dawn to midnight. The Prime Minister has to keep abreast of them all. She will have all ministers keyed up to alert her staff to anything that could be contentious and politically damaging but she will learn, if she hasn't already, that they miss a lot. It's only when you carry the can that you remain fully conscious of what might spill.

What will ministers do when they know the Prime Minister has a baby? Will they keep things from her to try to lighten her load? Mistakes could be made, co-ordination fail, Government could suffer. Ardern will be aware of the dangers, that's why she says she intends to keep in touch with her office through her leave.

But is it possible? I don't know, I'm male, I can't concentrate on more than one task at a time.

It's true that were she a man I would not be asking these questions. But it's also true that an announcement a young male Prime Minister was to become a father for the first time would have received a few paragraphs in the paper and attracted only passing interest in conversation. Like it or not motherhood is different. I like it.