Prime Minister PR plans, if the baby plays ball

The all important PR plans around the birth of Jacinda Ardern’s baby have been announced.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s plans following the birth of her baby

The Prime Minister’s Office has released details of arrangements around the birth of the Prime Minister’s baby.

The baby – the first child for Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford – is due on June 17.

While the couple are happy to share with the public some moments with their new baby they ask that media respect the family’s privacy in the weeks set aside to be together after the birth, and during private family moments.

The following details outline plans for the birth, and the following six weeks:

  • Jacinda Ardern is planning to have the baby at Auckland Hospital.
  • The couple will announce the birth. A formal announcement from the Prime Minister’s office will follow.
  • There are contingency plans in place for the birth in the event the Prime Minister is not in Auckland.
  • They will not be making other announcements or conducting any one-on-one interviews related to the birth prior to the birth.
  • They will not be giving any exclusive media interviews, or offering any exclusive photo opportunities, prior to Jacinda Ardern’s return to work.
  • There will, however, be an opportunity for media to take photos as they leave the hospital and the Prime Minister will answer a small number of questions.
  • Due to the high level of interest, the Prime Minister will also give one round of interviews to major domestic media outlets close to the time she returns to work. This will be the only formal media opportunity in relation to the new baby.

Tacked on to the end of this New Zealand Government Press Release is a minor bit of information:

Transition to Acting Prime Minister

At the point that Jacinda Ardern arrives at hospital to have the baby, Acting Prime Minister responsibilities will begin for Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Not sure what will happen if the baby is born in the taxi before getting to the hospital. The probably have a press release prepared for that.

It’s worth nothing that ‘due date’ is not a promise. It could be up to a couple of weeks later than this.

I’m sure the media will be well informed about it when it happens.

A pointless poll on pregnancy and politics

1 News got Colmar Brunton to do a pointless poll on Jacindas Ardern’s performance as PM while being a mother. It is likely to be a month or two before she becomes a mother, so how does anyone know?

1 News: Becoming a mum won’t have an effect on Jacinda Ardern’s performance as PM – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll

Political commentator Jennifer Lees-Marshment says in an ideal world it would not be a topic for discussion.

Media commissioning polls to create populist ‘news’ is not ideal either, but it has become normal click-bait creating practice.

Experts say that the Prime Minister is a role model for working women.

Global Women board member Felicity Evans says “seeing her adequately and brilliantly doing her job whilst being a mum and being pregnant. It’s perfect.”

That sounds like just one ‘expert’. Using terms like ‘brilliantly ‘ and ‘perfectly’ doesn’t sound like objective expert assessment.

In response to that Ms Ardern says, “I’m no superwoman and I wouldn’t want to give that impression.”

“The fact that I am able to do what I’m doing and be a mother at the same time is because I have a huge amount of support around me.”

Support is very important, and it will be particularly important once Ardern has her baby. It will still be a big challenge for her – she may take it in her political stride, but there is no way of knowing how it will go until it happens.

By then 1 News will have probably moved on the more important polls, like what the baby’s name should be.

Over ACTing

‘Any publicity is good publicity’ is being tested by the ACT Party.

They announced their party list in the weekend. Number 2 was Beth Houlbrooke. She promoted herself on Facebook:

I am proud to announce I have just been named as the new Deputy Leader and No. 2 list candidate for ACT NZ.

The party seems to be using her to stir up some controversy, quoting her saying “The fact is, parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them.”

That the party repeated it suggests it is a deliberately strategy to stir things up to attract attention.

While any prospective parent should consider how well they could care for any children, including financially, this is a very crude dog whistle from ACT.

There are genuine issues that should be debated regarding state support of parents. Labour has just promised a generous per baby handout.

There is anecdotal claims that some young people look at motherhood as a sort of (perceived to be easy until they get there) career choice. There are certainly potential issues with offering financial incentives to have babies.

But I think that ACT have handled this poorly and cynically. And insensitively, there are a number of reasons why parents, especially solo parents, can find themselves struggling financially.

It might attract fleeting attention but is unlikely to attract many votes, and is at least as likely to repel potential voters.


Gender equality for post-natal depression?

I’m sure that many men suffer from post-natal depression of sorts, but I question calling it post-natal depression alongside the common female condition.

I consider having children was easily the biggest and best achievement of my life, but it was also brought about the biggest change in my life. And over the next 25 years it wasn’t always easy.

Men have to adjust to possibly the love of their life transforming from mutual devotion to their focus shifted substantially on a new person in their lives. A first baby especially forces huge changes on lifestyles and relationships. Sleep deprivation on it’s own can cause problems.

The pluses far outweigh the minuses for me, but there were challenges for sure.

However men have nothing like the challenges of carrying a growing human being for about nine months, the physical trauma of giving birth, the hormonal changes during and afterwards, and the maternal instinct that demands a shift in attention to a new dependant person at their most needy and vulnerable.

But despite the differences Stuff labels father’s struggles alongside those that mothers face.

New fathers can also struggle with post-natal depression

Research from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study released in February reported 6.2 per cent of men experienced depression symptoms from the third trimester of pregnancy to nine months after birth.

That doesn’t surprise me, but I wonder how that compares to overall rates of male depression.

“It was a good eight or nine weeks of almost running out of the house to go to work in the morning so I didn’t have to be with this attention seeking little human.”

It was the midwife who joined the dots.

“I told her the baby was crying for no reason at all and she said, ‘Neil, your child is four weeks old. She is crying because she needs something.’

“She said, ‘Have you thought about the fact you might have the baby blues? What you’re experiencing are the typical signs for the dad, but it never gets spoken about'”

It was the first he had heard of it, but identifying what was going on helped him take a step back, and tackle the same feelings when they arrived after the birth his son, three years later.

“But without that chat with the midwife, I would have had myself down as not being the fathering type.”

This sounds like having difficulties adjusting to fatherhood. It’s common for people to struggle at times with major changes in their lives.

Antoinette Ben, executive director at Post and Ante-Natal Distress Support Wellington, estimated for every 10 women who asked her organisation for help, one father would come forward – and most were first-time dads.

Not surprising considering the often huge lifestyle change, relationship change, sex life change, responsibility change and change in sleeping opportunities and patterns and length.

Dr Dougal Sutherland of Victoria University School of Psychology said some dads were unable to recognise they were struggling with their mental health.

“Particularly with a first child, you’re so deeply in it with the first baby, it’s very hard to see out over the edge of the parapet, so to speak, because you’re up to your neck in nappies and bottles,” Sutherland said.

“I have certainly spoken to guys who’ve felt jealous towards the baby, they’ve felt unloved and unwanted by their partners because all the attention is focused on the baby and they’re saying ‘what about me?'”

Fathers can face real problems but I think they are different to some (not all) of the bigger changes mothers have to contend with.

Sutherland said socialising with other dads can help, as well as ensuring there was a wider support network behind them.

Boothby wanted new dads who were having a tough time to know they weren’t alone, and hoped they would have the courage to talk to someone.

“There is such a macho-ism around being a new father and being the protector –  but it is natural and there is people out there who are aware of it.”

The role of (many) fathers has changed a lot over the last half century. It is far more common now for fathers to be much more involved in the pregnancy, birth and raising of children.

It figures that that will bring with it different pressures and challenges, and that will affect mental health of some.

Fathers do have something different to contend with though – if the mother has post-natal depression that can exacerbate the pressures and stresses of being a father

Real issues, but not the same as female post natal depression.

I became a father with zero experience, but looked forward to the chance to become a dad. I encouraged an early exit from the maternity home – in those days a week was still the norm and less had to be fought for.

I just wanted to get the newly formed family home so we could do things ourselves without the interference of nurses – they meant well and were a help but also in those days tended to dismiss the input of fathers.

Having a very capable mother helped quite a bit, but for the biggest job of my life I learned on the job. that seems remarkable in a way, given the responsibilities. But humans, like any animals, have parented like this forever, using instinct and common sense.

I came through it all pretty well I think – when I see the resulting kids (now adults) and grand kids I’m very happy, and I’m grateful that the pressures and problems didn’t weigh down too heavily on me.

I was fortunate not to have to deal with  serious child health or behavioural issues, some parents have to cope with far more than I ever did.

All dads have difficulties adjusting and ongoing challenges raising a family. For whatever reason some have more serious difficulties I hope they seek and get the support they need.

“Plunket’s message to mums and dads is that it is never too early or too late to ask for help.”

Rejected baby names

Parents are able to change their mind about the names they give their children until they turn 2, and this year about 700 names were changed.

Forty had to change their chosen names straight away when the Department of Internal Affairs rejected them – reasons for not accepting names include resembling an official rank or title, excessively long, using numbers or symbols, or were offensive to a reasonable person.

The death of Prince may have prompted parents to try that as a name.

I wonder what parents are thinking when they try to register some of these names. I presume kids are susceptible to ridicule if they have strange names.

From RNZ: Hi, my name is /

Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages Jeff Montgomery said the decision to reject a name could depend on the circumstances.

The parents of about 700 babies – about 1 percent of the number of babies born in New Zealand each year – had second thoughts and changed their baby’s name before they become a toddler.

Mr Montgomery said there were special provisions that allowed parents to change their mind in the first two years of a child’s life, with a small fee.

“Some are changing the first name of the child because they’ve had a change of mind, but increasingly it’s people who are changing the middle names of their child,” he said.

He said changes to the surname were marginally the most common reason.

I wonder if that’s due to changes in partner situations, for example a baby is given the father’s surname but then he disappears to the mother changes the surname to hers. I guess they could just have second thoughts which surname or hyphenated names to use.

Deceit hidden in the fine print

This Labour stunt hides it’s deceit in the fine print.

It’s a lame stunt at that – who cares “which number baby you were”?


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