“Welcome to our village wee one,” Ardern said. “Feeling very lucky to have a healthy baby girl.”
“Thank you so much for your best wishes and your kindness,” Ardern, 37, added. “We’re all doing really well thanks to the wonderful team at Auckland City Hospital.”
Her partner, Clarke Gayford, also posted a photo on Twitter, saying: “So happy to announce our little girl has finally arrived! Everyone healthy and happy.”
Ardern, who in October became New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than a century, drew international attention in January when she announced she was pregnant with her first child. She became a symbol for working mothers everywhere, her story serving as a reminder that women should not have to choose between motherhood and a position of leadership.
“I am not the first woman to multitask,” Ardern said at the time. “I am not the first woman to work and have a baby.”
The only other elected head of government known to have given birth while in office was Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, who had a child while she was prime minister in 1990. Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007.
Fittingly, Ardern’s daughter will share a birthday with Bhutto, who would have turned 65 today.
When she went into labor at 5:50 a.m., she handed off her duties to New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, Winston Peters. After a six-week maternity leave, she plans to return to her job. Gayford, who hosts a television show about fishing, will be their daughter’s full-time caregiver.
New Zealanders have been waiting in excitement for the arrival of the baby, who was due on Sunday. One group started a campaign, #KnitForJacinda, to knit baby clothes for hospitals and women’s shelters in celebration of Ardern’s news.
From the moment Ardern’s office announced she was in the hospital, New Zealand media outlets dispatched reporters to the scene and kicked off live blogs documenting the day. (One live blog has actually been up and running since Sunday.) The hashtag #babywatch spread on Twitter. The prime minister’s office brought food for reporters waiting at the hospital.
Ardern’s pregnancy was unexpected, she said in January. She and Gayford had “been clear we wanted to be parents but had been told we would need help for that to happen.” Once she became prime minister, she put those plans on hold. Then came the surprise.
The couple will now be “joining the many parents out there who wear two hats,” she wrote. “I’ll be Prime Minister AND a mum, and Clarke will be ‘first man of fishing’ and stay at home dad.”