Interview of the Month


This month the Malta Baby & Kids Directory team catch up with Becky Gauci Maistre, founder of Babywearing Malta & Tree of Life, to discover what makes her tick.

 

What are the positive aspects of babywearing?

Babywearing provides lots of benefits to both the parents and the child. The first 3 months of a baby’s life are often referred to as the 4th trimester. During this time it is biologically normal for babies to want to be held a lot. The first benefits parents will see is that they become more mobile and that their hands are free to do other things while wearing their babies. However, there is so much more going on. Babywearing strengthens the bond between parents and child, which is why I actively encourage fathers to babywear as well.  Worn babies are also known to cry less, appear to have earlier language development. This is often attributed to the child spending a lot of time at “conversational” height and being able to observe facial expression as well. This also promotes emotional development. 

Physically, ergonomic babywearing puts the child’s hips in the optimal position - the M position - and also reduces the possibility of developing flat-head and of SIDS. Some studies have shown that babywearing also  promotes neural development, respiratory and gastrointestinal health, and aids in balance.

Due to the constant physical contact with the child, the parent experiences an increase in oxytocin - the “love hormone”. For breastfeeding mothers this also boosts milk production, and breastfeeding in an ergonomic carrier is easy and discreet. 

Babywearing isn’t just for newborns either. Wearing into toddlerhood promotes a sense of safety for the child, in turn resulting in a more independent child.

Carrying a sling or carrier rather than a stroller is much simpler too.

Finally, babywearing adopted children promotes bonding between the parents and child. Although initially it may need to be started in smaller increments depending on the background of the child. 

 

 How have you managed to juggle bringing up children, supporting your partner and helping create awareness on babywearing?

     I started babywearing when my eldest was in NPICU and the nurses there encouraged what is called Kangaroo Care. I did a lot of research and joined several online groups to learn as much as possible. By the time I was pregnant with my 3rd child I was barely using a stroller any more. Initially I would feel very self-aware when people approached me to ask for information about the ring sling, wrap or carrier I would be wearing, but from there I started getting tagged in posts where people were asking for babywearing help. I had finished studying for certification for postpartum doula and added babywearing educator. I mainly studied while the older children were at school or sleeping, usually while wearing one child or another. In September 2014 I launched Babywearing Malta and the group now has almost 3000 members. I started holding workshops while the children were are school, while wearing my youngest through most of the session. We still often refer to him as the “demo doll” and he loves putting on a performance to demonstrate howto wear a toddler. My husband works very long hours which made working in the afternoons or weekends quite difficult as I needed to be there for the children. I often had to take all 3 children with me to teach afternoon or weekend classes. I would be armed with a huge amount of colouring books, toy carriers and soft toys, puzzles and more. My classes are always open to siblings and I encourage both parents and even grandparents to attend, so whenever I taught a class with my children in tow, the children would often end up forming a little play group and allow the parents to concentrate a little more.  In a way, it meant that I was also leading by example, and I know of many mothers who attended my workshops who went on to wear their newborns while at work, which is wonderful. My husband is very supportive as well, but I do try to limit my work hours to fit around the family in general. We place high value on family time, even if it is just sitting having a lazy day, but when I have to schedule classes for Saturday morning, he will take the children out to a field or park, and the children treasure that time with him as well. Support has to go both ways. The initial transition from full-time “house wife” to part-time educator meant that we had to re-learn some of the dynamics of how the house was managed. However, my husband is a huge advocate for babywearing, loves wearing the children himself and attends (and participates in) all of the special events I organise, including the annual Babywearing Dance session to celebrate International Babywearing Week. 

 

 

           What improvements would you like to see for children in Malta?

 

We have definitely come a long way but there is still room for more improvement. Simple things like having changing tables in men’s bathrooms is still a rarity. There is still a significant road towards more acceptance of breastfeeding, both in terms of support and in discrimination towards feeding in public or expressing at work. I would love to see an increase in school outdoor activities too, not just structured outings to educational places, but time outside in the open air and with nature. I would also love to see more eateries offering children’s menus that provide more variety and nutrition. I would love to see more campaigns on road safety too, especially promotion of age-appropriate car seats, extended rear-facing and so on.

 

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Malta Baby & Kids Directory is created by mums for mums and childcarers.
Lisa Grech is the founder of the Malta Baby & Kids Directory and website. Together with Denise Briffa and Crysta Darmanin we combine work on the publication and website while bringing up lots of children (seven between us!).


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