This is part of our series, "Meet the Experts". In this series of posts, we interview a wide variety of men and women involved in every aspect of the field of maternal health. Today, we welcome Candy Beers-Kim, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.
1. Introduce yourself! Who are you, and what do you do in the field of maternal health?
Hello! My name is Candy Beers-Kim. My background is in infant mental health and interpersonal neurobiology. I teach Itsy Bitsy Yoga, offer education on early childhood and attachment, and am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant. My mission in all of these services is to provide a safe space for new mothers to explore and express their journey of being a mother as well as learn helpful tips on how to best support themselves and their babies.
2. How would you describe your personal experience with motherhood (whether you’re a mother or not!)?
I have always wanted to be a mother, and my professional life has been focused on infant mental health, early childhood development, and family dynamics. So, it was a surprise to me that the adjustment to being a mother was so challenging. I loved my daughter more than anything, but there was a part of me that wanted to divorce my husband, not be a mother, and go ride horses in California, with the wind blowing through my hair. I felt a lot of emotional dissonance about being a mother…loving my daughter and loving being a mother but being terrified about how it was changing my everyday life. I was not sure how to integrate the me that has always existed with the new mother. Because not a lot of people talk about these very real feelings, I had a lot of guilt. That guilt presented as fear that something would happen to my daughter or me…that somehow we would tragically become separated. I believe the sad fact that we don’t allow new mothers to have these very real adjustment emotions is a contributing factor to postpartum mood disorders. The experience I had early as a mother has only fed my passion for supporting new moms and their babies.
3. How did you get involved in your current field?
I started my career in early childhood development as an undergraduate student at Penn State University. Since then, I have been focused on the caregiver-child relationship and interpersonal neurobiology, working as a therapist for young children and consultant for parenting. I recently added Pediatric Sleep Consultant to my services. My mission is to give parents a safe space to process all that they are feeling about their journey of parenting and offer opportunities that increases their confidence and allows the family unit to get off to a healthy, mindful, well-rested start.
4. Why did you choose to work in your field?
My first experience in developmental psychology was watching a baby being born. I became very interested in the infant’s experience and then later the mother-child relationship and how this relationship plays a role in the development of the infant’s brain as well as the development of the mother. I have always found it very unfortunate that there is little education for parents, and I have wanted to fill that gap in a compassionate way…not as a parenting expert, but as someone who understands development and wants to help the family unit function in ways that considers the health and well-being of the entire family. I became a sleep consultant specifically, because there is a lot of misleading information on infant sleep. I again wanted to offer sound knowledge, based in research, so that parents can be better informed of how to nurture their children while also feeling free to take care of themselves.
5. In the vast field of maternal health, which area are you most passionate about, personally?
I am most interested in creating a safe space for new mothers to share their experiences of becoming a mother. I want mothers to know that what they are feeling is valid and that they are not alone. I want to help new mothers reconnect to their innate ability to parent their new baby. And, I want to help new mothers take care of their sleep needs by educating them on pediatric sleep and evidenced-based tools they can use to help their babies also get a healthy night of sleep.
6. What do you see as an area of maternal health that needs more awareness, support and/or education?
The causes of postpartum mood disorders and self-care.
7. If there were only one thing that you could share with the women we work with, what would it be?
I want to help relieve the unnecessary guilt and shame that comes with being a mother by offering that open space to talk about real experiences-this includes sleep experiences/needs.
8. If a woman that we serve has additional questions or would like more information, how could they go about contacting you?
They can contact me at email@example.com or 804-836-2802. They can also learn more about me and my services by visiting candybeers-kim.com.