Study Updates 31-41

Update #31 – November 4, 2016img_1342

I had a great time presenting at the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo, as well as learning about other studies relevant to my research. Here is a somewhat embarrassing photo of me presenting my research – clearly, I am really into things when I start “talking” with my hands… though, apparently, ha, that’s what passionate and charismatic leaders do… I’ll go with that 🙂

Seated left to right in the photo: Deborah Klein Walker (moderator), me, Katharine Hayward (presenter), Willi Horner-Johnson (presenter), Linda Long-Bellil (presenter), and on the edge of the photo Monika Mitra (presenter).

Some papers by my co-presenters that may be of interest to you:

I’ll provide a more detailed update on my experience at the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo at a later date.

Have a nice weekend!

Update #32 – January 11, 2017

Happy New Year!

I am still writing away and will provide an update on my dissertation work and other things soon. In the meantime, here are some things I’ve been reading (when I’m not writing), including some stories of women with physical disabilities who are mothers that I’ve come across in newspapers, blogs, etc. (some are a few years old but I thought I’d share them anyway):

  • story about a Canadian mother with cerebral palsy dispelling myths about parenting with a disability.
  • Pregnancy with a physical disability: One psychologist’s journey
  • Physical disabilities add challenge to pregnancy
  • More disabled women are having children
  • Raising kids is hard enough, so how do disabled mothers cope?

Though it is not the focus of my dissertation, I am interested in (someday!) examining how mothers with physical disabilities are portrayed in media stories like these (e.g., What language is used to describe them? What images are used alongside these stories? What are the key messages in these types of stories?)

Did you watch the Golden Globes on Sunday? Here is an interesting and important take on Meryl Streep’s speech by Emily Ladau, a writer passionate disability rights and social justice activist.

Here is an important article, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, about the importance of access (of all kinds!) to improve care for people with disabilities.

Update #33 – March 10, 2017

I am busy writing away! My goal is to have my dissertation defended by the end of 2017 (it is going to happen!) In the meantime, in addition to writing my dissertation, I am working with a colleague to develop a short (hopefully less than 12 pages) community/final report of my dissertation study findings to share with you all ideally by June 2017, as well as continuing my work on the Postpartum Well-Being Study. We’ve finally completed data collection for that study (!!!) and have been busy writing and submitting papers for publication.

I will be presenting some of my dissertation study findings at the BORN* Ontario Conference on April 24th, and I have a paper under review (fingers crossed) with the Disability & Health Journal reporting data related to participants’ perinatal care experiences and outcomes, specifically focused on barriers to care.

Be well! Spring is almost here 🙂

*Better Outcomes Registry & Network (BORN)

Update #34 – March 28, 2017

Over the last few weeks when I have not been working on my dissertation, I have been working on a systematic review and meta-analysis of mental health and substance use outcomes among bisexual populations with one of my PhD supervisors and others. Indeed, a growing body of research indicates that, compared to both gay/lesbian and heterosexual people, bisexual people experience worse mental health outcomes. Systematic reviews are a lot of work but definitely worth it and needed.

The paper that I submitted to the Disability & Health Journal has been accepted for publication! I suspect it will be published within the next few months so stay tuned for that.

Happy Spring!

Update #35 – April 26, 2017

Spring is here and so are my allergies! I hope you are enjoying the warmer weather (finally!!)

Today I’m sharing the link to my paper in the Disability and Health Journal (contact me at if you are unable to access the full paper). In the issue that my paper is in there are a number of other articles (primarily based on research done in the United States) regarding the perinatal care and outcomes and motherhood experiences of women with physical disabilities.

Other project updates:

While the Postpartum Well-Being Study has now officially wrapped up, in the coming months I’ll continue working with members of the research team to write up papers to share findings from the study. It will be interesting to learn if quantitative findings from this study echo those of the pilot study, which indicated that women whose sexual histories include more than one gender (i.e., bisexual women) and are currently partnered with men may be at a higher risk for postpartum depression and anxiety.

In addition to my dissertation, I am working with my friend and colleague Corey Flanders at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts to develop a study examining young sexual minority women’s experiences of sexual violence and sexual stigma.

Finally, I am happy to announce that in a few months I will be starting a new position at Ryerson University. Specifically, I will be joining the Child Self-Regulation Lab to work on the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Families Study. In short, this study is an evaluation of Ontario’s integrated treatment programs for women who have addictions or substance use issues and are currently pregnant and/or parenting.

Now, back to writing…

Update #36 – May 19, 2017

I am here to report some exciting developments regarding perinatal care for women with physical disabilities, notably that Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto now has an Accessible Care Pregnancy Clinic. From what I understand, this is the first clinic of its kind in North America to specifically serve women with disabilities! This is big news!!! I am hoping to connect with the clinic staff to learn more about it in the coming months.

I feel as though mothers and mothers-to-be with physical disabilities are having a real moment right now (finally! Finally, the barriers that women with physical disabilities encounter to become mothers are being discussed in more public/mainstream spaces). For instance, a friend and colleague recently sent me this article (printed in Cosmopolitan to my surprise!): The Insulting Childbirth Experiences Mothers With Disabilities Endure

The Vanier Institute of the Family recently published In Context: Understanding Maternity Care in Canada, a backgrounder publication exploring the evolving context of maternity care in Canada. The publication features a piece adapted from my piece in the Vanier Institute’s Transition publication:


Update #37 – August 25, 2017

Hello! It has been a few months since my last study update. I have been busy working on revising my dissertation (oh gosh, yes, I am still working on it!) and the community report  with my friend/colleague emmy (which, fingers crossed, should be ready in a matter of weeks!).

In addition to writing/revising, I have been busy with my new job at Ryerson University (and playing soccer and softball and barbecuing). Specifically, I am working on an evaluation of integrated treatment programs for women who are pregnant and/or parenting and have substance use issues in Ontario. I am already learning so much from this project and have visited two integrated treatment program sites in Ontario: The Jean Tweed Centre for Women and Families (Mom & Kids Too; Pathways to Healthy Families) in Toronto and The House of Sophrosyne (Caring Connections) in Windsor. The staff at these sites are doing amazing work to support pregnant and/or parenting women with substance use issues – women who face a myriad of barriers to treatment, including judgement from care providers. The women I have met who access these programs are incredibly resilient.

Today an article discussing what it is like for women with physical disabilities to have children was published in Today’s Parent. I am happy to share that I am quoted in this article and some of my PhD research is referenced in it. Thanks again to my study participants for sharing their stories! With more and more articles/stories like this, I hope we can continue to see improvements in perinatal care for women with physical disabilities and decrease stigma against women with physical disabilities who are pregnant and/or parenting.

An excerpt from the story I am quoted in in Today’s Parent. For the full story, click here.


Update #38 – August 28, 2017

Ok, this is definitely not a big deal for most people but I feel like I have officially “made it” because one of my favourite public health journalists in Canada, Andre Picard, shared (re-tweeted) the above article that I am quoted in. While I was shamelessly keeping track of who shared this article, I came across an article featuring one of my study participants, in which she discusses her experiences of pregnancy and parenting as a woman with arthritis. She is part of an organization here in Canada that has developed a resource, by patients for patients, about pregnancy and parenting with arthritis.

Since I seem to be in the business of self-promotion/congratulations lately, I wanted to share that my colleague Corey Flanders and I recently received funds from the American Psychological Association to conduct a study of young sexual minority women’s experiences of sexual violence and sexual stigma. Stay tuned for updates on that project over the next year or so.

Now, back to writing/revising.

Happy last week of August!

Update #39 – January 1, 2018

Wow! A new year already! I hope you all had a relaxing holiday, with lots of delicious food and time spent with people you love.

This. Is. It. This is the year I am going to finish my dissertation once and for all!! It is happening!! I will be in the final stages of writing and revising over the next few months.

The fall was busy for me. I traveled a fair bit around Ontario for work (including to Thunder Bay, which was really beautiful!), worked on my dissertation, and had some papers (co-authored with others) get accepted to be published. I am looking forward to a productive 2018!!

2018 will start with two presentations–the first will be for the Collaborative Graduate Program in Women’s Health student seminar series, where I will be presenting some of findings from the Healthy Mothers study, and second will be at the Racialized Maternal Health Conference on January 31st, where I will be presenting some of my dissertation research on the perinatal care experiences of women with physical disabilities. The Racialized Maternal Health Conference has an amazing line-up so grab a ticket (for free!) if you can. The one-day conference is in Toronto and organized by graduate student Elsie Amoako and others (Elsie is the founder of Mommy Monitor, an app for new moms).


Update #40 – March 15, 2018

I am now working on what I hope to be the final round of revisions of my dissertation before I submit it this spring – hooray!!

A colleague sent me this resource (click for the full 36-page resource) on reproductive rights, parenting, and disability in the global context:


Update #41 – August 7, 2018

This will be my final dissertation update. I submitted my dissertation in late April and successfully passed my oral examination on June 20th. Last week I got the final notice that my dissertation (over 200 pages!) was formatted as per the School of Graduate Studies guidelines and officially approved. Hooray! I am all done! It feels very surreal.

It was a long – sometimes bumpy – journey and I would not have made it to the end without my great support system. I am so grateful to my supervisory committee – Lori Ross, Carol Strike, and Karen Yoshida – and to the women who shared their stories with me.

I will start another page to share dissertation-related updates as I eventually get to publishing from it. In the meantime, here, again, is my community report.

Thank you for following along! I am excited about the next steps of my career, which I started officially in June – I am working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on an NIH-funded project exploring the perinatal health of women with disabilities (physical, sensory, developmental and intellectual) in Ontario.