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April 3, 2023
Seminar Title: Postpartum harm thoughts, OCD and infant safety
Presenter: Dr. Nichole Fairbrother, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Victoria
Dr. Nichole Fairbrother is a Michael Smith Health Professional-Investigator, registered psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor with the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia. She is the head of the UBC Perinatal Anxiety Disorder Research Lab (PARLab), one of the only perinatal anxiety research labs in Canada. Dr. Fairbrother’s research is in the area of perinatal anxiety disorders and epidemiology, with a focus on new mothers’ thoughts of infant-related harm and perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Current research activities include a large-scale study of perinatal anxiety and related disorder screening tools, a new study of postpartum harm thoughts and their relationship with OCD and infant safety, and several inter-connected studies of fear of childbirth. She is currently in the planning stages for a study of the mental health correlates of gender differences in the distribution of unpaid domestic labour and a randomized controlled trial of online CBT for postpartum OCD.
Talk Summary: Unwanted intrusive thoughts (thoughts, images and impulses) of infant-related harm are reported by the vast majority of postpartum people. These kinds of thoughts can involve either accidental harm to the infant (e.g., “What if I fall while carrying my baby down the stairs?”) or intentional harm (e.g., “What if I drop my baby off the balcony?”). These kinds of thoughts, in particular thoughts of intentional, infant-related harm, can be very distressing to the people who experience them. Questions regarding infant safety often arise in response to these kinds of thoughts. In this talk, I will present the most up to date information regarding unwanted, intrusive thoughts of infant-related harm and their relation to infant safety and postpartum mental health.