Australian Natalie Ritchie, editor of a parenting magazine, has asked a pertinent question of Jacinda Ardern. Is she really promoting a realistic work-life balance for working mothers with a newborn baby?

Ardern, due to return to full Prime Ministerial duties in two weeks if she takes no more than her intended six weeks maternity leave, has never displayed the slightest doubt that she can do justice to both her baby and the nation with the help of her partner, Clarke Gayford.

Even if she can, Ritchie thinks, she is doing women no favours by role modelling full time work and baby care.

Rather, Ritchie suggests, she should be showing how hours and workload can be cut back for nursing mothers.


She implies that a male partner staying at home to care for a baby is no substitute for a mother, though breast-feeding apart, it is hard to see what a women needs to do that a man could not.

Ritchie is also perhaps unaware of the allowances New Zealand employers are beginning to make for new mothers' and fathers' working hours, leave entitlements and the like. A Prime Minister giving birth has helped spur progress on this front.

To suggest that a female Prime Minister could not meet all the demands of her job as a new mother would seem a retrograde step.

Even with Gayford's help, Ardern's return to work is going to pose challenges for her, her staff and her colleagues.

But she has been confident she can manage the demands of motherhood and government and it is more than likely she will.