10 things Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needs to know about having a baby

OPINION: We're here for you, prime minister.

Working mums across the globe couldn't fail to appreciate New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern's words in sharing news of her first pregnancy: "I'm not the first woman to multi-task; I'm not the first woman to work and have a baby."

It was a grand salute to all the women (and stay-at-home dads) who've been there, are still there, and those who, one day, will.

It was also very generous: you'd have to say breastfeeding while running a country is the Premier League of multi-tasking.

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Psychologically, you'll be tested. In my work I've seen mothers struggle hugely with the twin demands of work and home: depression, a raft of anxieties, self-criticism, exhaustion, feelings of overwhelm and guilt are common. Throw in the demands of a nation and intense public scrutiny over everything you do, and it's one tough gig.

Not yet, though, trimester two (if you're lucky) is the fun bit. But trimester three, when you're bloated, dog-tired and juggling antenatal classes with policy making? Or when it's 3am and your newborn won't stop screaming? That's when the doubts will rush in. Can I really do this?

You can.

But if you're smart you'll lean on the wisdom of those who've been where you are going. Oh, that's right, there's only one. Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto also had a baby while in office  -  and it's unlikely you'll have access to her diaries.

So, instead, here's a survival guide, gathered from other mums and my own experiences, too much of it learned the hard way.

1. AVERAGE IS GOOD ENOUGH

High standards, drive and determination got you to the top of politics but those attributes won't serve you here, they might even get in the way. Babies are the ultimate leveler. The higher your expectations, the harder you fall. So set the bar at low-average, do what you can, and take it one day at a time.

2. BREASTFEEDING IS HARD

We know it's right, we know it's best, but it doesn't always work out, okay. Sometimes it really, really hurts. Sometimes it compromises your own health. Expressing isn't fun, either. Do what you need to do.

3. PEOPLE MATTER (BUT MILLIONS DON'T)

You have a lot of people in your care. But they won't be there for you in the night when your baby's sick, you're frantic with worry and you have to address the nation next day. Set strict boundaries around your privacy and keep your best energy for the people who really matter.

4. YOU'LL RESENT WORK

You won't want to leave your baby sometimes, you'll be jealous of Clarke at home; you'll be bitter about the people bickering in a meeting over nothing when you'd rather be a home. You'll secretly yearn for a full year's maternity leave and you'll fight even harder for parental rights.

5. YOU'LL LOVE WORK

More often than you'll admit, be sooooo relieved to get to work, to have a really cool job. Working is best excuse for escaping the relentlessness of parenthood -  and your own inadequacy. Adult company is a relief too -  mostly.

6. YOU'LL FEEL GUILTY

Women can do anything  -  but not everything. Guilt will follow you to work, and chase you home again. You'll put yourself last and you'll have no "me time". Book time for yourself and protect it like a lion, or your health will suffer - physical, emotional and spiritual. Nothing's worth that.

7. RUNNING A COUNTRY IS EASIER

People can't scream at you in the dark for no apparent reason like a baby can (unless you leave your phone on). That "raising kids is the toughest job on the planet" is a cliche, but there's a reason for that.

8. SUNGLASSES ARE A WOMAN'S BEST FRIEND

You'll cry more at little things (normal) and possibly big things (ask for help). You'll want to hide the sleep-deprived circles under your eyes, and you'll need an eye mask for napping in the House. Keep a pair in every bag.

9. BABIES ARE (A BIT) BORING

This one is really for Clarke because he'll be at home. This is a relentless job. Some people are born to it; but the truth is there's an awful lot of repetition. Babies sleep and eat, on a good day-  they don't have any cool hobbies or lively banter. You might get lucky though, yours might like fishing.

10. BABIES MAKE A MESS

In their nappies, on your suit shoulder, of your heart. You want to stop worrying about your kids one day, but you never, ever do. You can't get voted out after three years: being a mum is a forever project. So welcome to the club, Prime Minister.

Let's do this.

Karen Nimmo is a clinical psychologist. This article originally appeared on Medium

 - Stuff

Fuente: WAIKATO TIMES