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10th Aug 2018

New Zealand PM brings baby to work after six-week maternity leave

'The atmosphere in the office feels a bit different.'

Anna O'Rourke

New Zealand PM brings baby to work after six week maternity leave

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has returned to work after taking six weeks off following the birth of her daughter.

Ardern and her husband Clarke Gayford welcomed baby Neve in June.

She is the second world leader ever to give birth while in office.

New mums are entitled to 22 weeks of maternity leave in New Zealand (going up to 26 later this year) but Ardern said doing her job was a privilege and that six weeks was enough for her.

A post shared by Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) on

“There’s every chance if I was in a different set of circumstances I would have done that transition [back to work] differently or had a bit more time,” she told The Guardian.

“Having been elected to be prime minister, to be away from the job for that length of time… I absolutely believe in 26 weeks, I absolutely do. But I have to acknowledge that this role is a very privileged one and it just personally didn’t feel right to me to be away for any longer than I was.”

Ardern is breastfeeding Neve and so brings her to work with her very day.

Her office’s tea room has been converted into a changing room and she admits the baby’s presence has had a bit of an impact on the office.

New Zealand PM brings baby to work after six week maternity leave

“We’re still a very busy workplace obviously and there’s a lot going on, but you get these small moments where I will break to feed Neve and I will continue to be briefed while I am doing that, but it just means that probably the atmosphere feels a bit different,” she said.

“I am sure having a baby around a working environment changes the tone a little bit.”

Ardern also revealed that giving birth and becoming a mum has given her a new perspective on the county’s health system.