Breaking News: Extended breastfeeding gives you super awesome hair*

*Or, that should really read, gives ME super awesome hair 🙂

I’m experiencing something of a hair sensation at the moment which, funnily enough, I’m fairly sure I can link directly back to my breastfeeding journey. Here’s how it goes…

I enjoyed a thick, healthy mane of hair throughout my pregnancy. What a bitch, you’re probably thinking, but it was a good thing for everyone because I’m not great on the old hairstyling – no matter how good my intentions are – so I’m pretty sure it was a relief to everyone that I was sporting shiny locks. It toned down their unkemptness.

I never experienced the great shed of post partum hair loss with the exception of a few hair balls that I mistook for hair loss but actually turned out to be the result of a severe lack of brushing. My hairdresser mentioned it a few times and put it down to the fact that I was still breastfeeding so my lovely fuzzy hormones were still up. I got to keep all that extra volume.

This is me (this is not me)
This is me (this is not me)

Not long after I stopped, when Pip was just over 14 months old, I began to notice what I’d always referred to as “spring hair” – where little tufts of soft and completely unmanageable hair spring up around your forehead and temples, all new and naive. This didn’t really bother me except when I tied my hair back in a ponytail and all the little hufties would be sticking straight up like I’d had a little electric shock and just wouldn’t sit back down.

But those little tufts have been growing away for a couple of months and now just in the last few weeks, they’ve grown to a length all around the crown of my head in such a way that I have instant volume with absolutely zero effort on part. It’s like I’ve been back combing like billy-o with a lovely even lift all around. So now I have extra thickness in all the right places with no work required from me. This is just perfect because it’s the exact amount of work I like to put into my hair.

Like I just stepped out of a salon. Score.

Please note, there is no scientific basis to my headline claim at all, at all. It is pure conjecture on my part. Awesome conjecture though.

How to take the sting out of taxing maternity benefit for Irish working mothers

When the Irish Parenting Bloggers Group organised a blog march last October to object to Government cuts to children’s allowance, I brought a controversial proposal to the table. Instead of cutting a universal payment to all children which would affect every family, I suggested that a tax on maternity benefit would generate some of the savings that needed to made and would create an equity amongst working mothers on maternity leave, where some women had previously been benefiting from a tax anomly. Everyone would keep their children’s allowance and no one would earn more on maternity leave than when they were at work.  You can read the original post here.

Children’s allowance got cut anyway.

I like to think that maybe one of the powers-that-be must have been reading this blog because at the same time they announced the children’s allowance cut, they also announced the tax on maternity benefit. From July of this year, maternity benefit will be treated as taxable income and will be deducted at whatever tax rate a recipient is currently on.

There has been a lot of criticism in the media in recent days about the introduction of this tax. I must admit, a small part of me is sorry that the tax has been introduced because if I had another baby it would affect me directly and I would have less money than I had on my last maternity leave and I would have to look at my options in terms of the amount of time I could take off.

But I have to say, I stick resolutely by my proposal to tax maternity benefit. No matter how you twist it, the old system benefited some women but not all. In reality, it was the most vulnerable women who needed it most who didn’t benefit from the tax loophole – the low wage earning mothers and the stay at home mothers, who don’t even have maternity benefit in the first place. It’s the same principle that applies to Ireland’s children: they are all equal and deserve the same children’s allowance.  All mothers should be equal.

photo credit: Dominik Meissner via photopin cc How to take the sting out of taxing maternity benefit for Irish working mothers Mind the Baby Blog
photo credit: Dominik Meissner via photopin cc

Climbing down off my high horse, the consequences of taxing maternity benefit do have a dark side with very real, negative societal impacts. The truth is women who benefited from the tax break used to use it to finance their unpaid leave so that they could stay at home with their babies for as long as possible.

Of course they did.

Many of us do everything in our power to stay at home with our children at this precious time in their lives.

From July, a whole swathe of new mothers will be cutting short their time at home due to financial commitments and it’s very, very sad. Heartbreaking for mothers, for their babies and for society who thinks children are better off in paid childcare than being nurtured by their parents.

I’m sure you’ve observed that we’re still paying the same rate of PRSI though, even though we’ll be receiving less. Given that the average age of mothers giving birth in Ireland is now 32, these women have been in the workforce a long time prior to their pregnancy and have made significant PRSI contributions, which they will continue to make if they return to paid employment.

Given Ireland’s recent renegotiated debt deal, there’s certainly a question mark over how important the saving on maternity benefit is. So here’s my new proposal:

Take the €40 million annual saving that the Government will make by taxing maternity benefit, divide it by the amount of women on maternity leave each year and calculate how many additional weeks of maternity benefit this would pay for. Then spread it evenly between all recipients.

Doing a rough calculation on CSO figures from last year, I estimate that this would give each woman on maternity leave an extra 8 paid weeks. That would be approximately 34 weeks of maternity benefit per pregnancy.

Imagine the positive impact that this would have on families and on society as a whole.

We’ve taken away the inequity in the maternity benefit system, painful as it may be. Now let’s turn the negatives of this correction into something that would be of exponential benefit to all working mothers and by default their families.

Powers-that-be, if you’re still listening, it’s time to do something good.

Related Posts:

Leave child benefit alone. Tax maternity benefit instead.

More adventures in sleeping: a mystery solved

photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc
photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc

So, this being the real world, it was inevitable that this sleeping through the night business wouldn’t last. We had a sweet, sweet few months where myself and the husband would go to bed together and actually wake up in the same bed, which was nice.

But then winter and germy creche-going toddlers ruined everything and we all got hit by every sniffle, sore throat, scratchy cough, little fever and upset stomach going. It was six weeks of relentless illness. And of course by default, the sleep broke – and it stayed broke, for really the longest time. From sometime in December (too blurry to be more specific) until not too long ago at all, we were in a vicious cycle of poor little Pip waking up literally every sleep cycle from when he went down in the evening.

It was fairly torturous to be honest.

But not as torturous as previous episodes of sleeplessness had been, because I had changed my thinking on it all and I let it wash over me. Yeah, I was pretty tired but myself and T took it in turns doing one night on and one night off so even if I had a rough night’s sleep I knew at least tomorrow I’d get a full seven hours in the spare room. I also knew “this too shall pass” because it always does. Even though I’ve whispered it to myself in the past, at those times I was willing myself to believe it but I actually know it’s true now, which makes a huge difference. Now I’m not sure if T would share my outlook on it, but that’s how I feel!

In another way we settled into a rhythm with it. One of us would just got to bed early and lash him in the big bed beside us. He seemed to sleep much better like that – particularly if he had manoeuvred himself so that he was lying prostrate on one of the pillows – and sometimes when he was just about to wake you could resettle him with a quick back rub and he’d be gone again. We got a lot of reading done…

Then slowly all the little pieces started coming together. I noticed one evening when I was home alone with Pip that he didn’t stir in the bed when I got up and pottered around the room getting clothes ready for the next day and doing a few bits and pieces. He stayed fast asleep with his arms wrapped around a pillow.

A few days later, T came down the stairs after putting Pip down and said “I think I’ve figured it out”. My sceptical eyebrow went up. He looked at the clock and said “we’ll see in 45 minutes”.

45 minutes later, still a sleeping baby. And another 45 minutes later. And another 45 minutes later.


My husband, the super sleuth, had indeed figured it out. It was the pillow all along. He had popped the pillow into the cot, Pip launched himself on it and promptly fell asleep. Happy days.

So now we’re putting him down on the pillow every night and it seems to be working. It’s working so well in fact, that I could nearly drop him from a height onto the pillow and he won’t wake up. (I’m not doing this, obviously). Before the pillow police get all up in my duvet, we’re using a very firm, non allergenic pillow. He’s 30lbs and his shoulders are much wider than his head. All the safety boxes are ticked. We’re a-okay.

Here’s to some well earned sleep so. I’m just whispering that bit though because once bitten, twice shy and all that.

I’ll keep you posted!

Related Posts

Still chasing the holy grail of a full night’s sleep

A triumphant post about sleeping through the night

Things I learned #5: the secret world of co-sleeping

…and the little one said “roll over”

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