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New Zealand PM announces pregnancy like it's perfectly normal — because it is

Jacinda Ardern took office as New Zealand's prime minister in October, but the new job wasn't the only big development for her that month.
/ Source: TODAY

Jacinda Ardern took office as New Zealand's prime minister in October, but the new job wasn't the only big development for her that month.

It was around the same time that she and partner Clarke Gayford learned they were expecting their first child — and now everyone else knows about that, too.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford speak to the media Jan. 19, 2018, in Auckland, New Zealand. They are expecting their first child in June 2018. Getty Images

The prime minister shared the happy news Friday morning, and with it, she shared some perspective. Because while this means that she'll be the first world leader to give birth in office in almost 30 years, the truth is, there's nothing unusual about being a working mom.

"I am not the first woman to multitask," Arden explained during a press conference. "I'm not the first woman to work and have a baby. I know these are special circumstances, but there will be many women who will have done this well before I have. I acknowledge those women. I'm about to sympathize with them a lot, as I sympathize with all women who've suffered morning sickness."

It was Pakistan's prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who last made headlines for having a child while running a country back in 1990. The late leader also faced criticism and public speculation as to whether or not she should — or even could — handle pregnancy and power at the same time.

As for Ardern, she didn't bother entertaining the idea that starting her family now could be considered a problem.

"Aside from the usual excitement we both share over this news, and the fact that it was a surprise for us, we have put in place plans to deal with our impending arrival," she assured. "Obviously, I take very seriously the role of becoming a mum, as does Clarke becoming a dad, but we equally take seriously the role I've taken on as prime minister New Zealand."

As such, Ardern has already arranged for the lieutenant prime minister to take over her duties during her six-week maternity leave. Then it's back to business as usual.

"After those six weeks, I will be coming back on deck." She looked at Gayford and added, "And dad will be taking over duties as the full-time caregiver."

Before taking office, the 37-year-old politician faced questions about women juggling careers with motherhood — and in particular, if it would be "OK" for a prime minister to take maternity leave at all.

“It is a woman’s decision about when they choose to have children," she said. "(It) should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have opportunities."