Key Points:

  • 'Welcome to our village': Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford announced the arrival of their baby girl, born at 4.45pm on Thursday
  • The baby, as yet unnamed, weighed 3.31kg (7lb, 5oz)
  • Ardern is expected to address media today, as her six weeks' maternity leave kicks in

Finally the hundreds of onesies, rompers, hats and stuffed toys Kiwis have bestowed upon Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will get the use they were intended for.

For some months the arrival of her first baby must have felt surreal to Ardern. It is now her reality.

She has decided to take just six weeks at home with the baby before returning to the ninth floor of the Beehive and taking over as Prime Minister again. For that short period only she will be full-time mum and on-call Prime Minister while Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters takes on her other work.

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Jacinda Ardern will be putting the focus on babywear instead of bills for the next six weeks. Photo / file
Jacinda Ardern will be putting the focus on babywear instead of bills for the next six weeks. Photo / file

If there were concerns about how the public might respond to that particular delegation, a poll on One News shows they were unwarranted. About 80 per cent either believed Peters would do a good or okay job. That may have been because Ardern has insisted she will be "working from home" including reading her papers and being called on major decisions.

Those who have been mothers have cheered her on in this while whispering "she's dreaming", knowing even Prime Ministers will not be immune to the bone weariness that comes with a baby — or the focus on one thing in life. That one thing is not the paperwork.

Ardern has always been aware of the messages she is sending to other women in how she will contend with juggling her not-insubstantial roles. But other mothers do not have the eyes of the nation on them as they learn what it means to be a mother.

Ardern has aired some of the concerns she had around motherhood — one of which was the guilt she expected to feel as she ploughed on in her job with a baby either in tow or home with partner Clarke Gayford.

She discussed that with former US President Barack Obama on meeting him. He gave her the advice that applies to all situations: do the best you can.

Ardern also faces other decisions most other mothers do not have to make. That includes the dilemma of just how public she wants her child to be in her early years.

The baby has been described as the "baby of the nation" and the "first baby". Ardern will be aware of the high level of interest and curiosity.

For the past nine months, New Zealand has watched as Ardern's abdomen grew and she traded high heels for loafers. She has shared some of those moments — her father doing up her shoes, Gayford rubbing her stomach "as if I was a genie".

She will also be wary not to feed any perception she is using the baby for political purposes.

There will be much conflicting advice from colleagues with children and those who went before. Some politicians keep their families intensely private, others share.

From the start, Ardern was highly conscious of ensuring she was seen to be giving her all to the job of Prime Minister while pregnant. That went right up to the date of the birth.

What she can be sure of is that one thing politicians on all sides have in common is family.

Even National's Judith Collins issued a message of moral support in the lead-up to the due date, tweeting that she hoped Ardern would be given and would take the space to be a mother, the good and the bad.

There is a strong interest in Ardern's family, not least because she is the first Prime Minister to give birth while in office.

The royal family model has also been touted, of limited public appearances and releasing photos occasionally to assuage that curiosity. But those decisions remain ahead.

Meantime, Ardern has six short weeks. She has said repeatedly no woman should expect or be expected to be superwoman. She will now hopefully take her own advice, even if for a limited time.