The Disability and Pregnancy Study 

Overview: This study aims to provide an understanding of the perinatal health and health care experiences of women with physical, sensory, and intellectual/developmental disabilities in Ontario, Canada. Using health administrative data (from ICES), we aimed to describe the pregnancy rates, preconception health characteristics, and perinatal and infant health outcomes of women with disabilities compared to those without disabilities in Ontario. To understand perinatal health care experiences, we interviewed 31 people* with disabilities who had recently experienced pregnancy and birth, as well as 31 health and social service providers and decision-makers across Ontario.

Infographic_Pregnancy RatesStatus: Data analysis is underway; see Publications for some findings published to-date.

Role: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Qualitative Lead (Principal Investigators: Hilary Brown and Yona Lunsky)

Funding: National Institutes of Health (Research Project R01)

*trans inclusive

The Disability and Reproductive Health Study

Overview: Despite the growing number of women with disabilities becoming pregnant, there is scant research on women with disabilities’ attitudes, desires, and intentions regarding motherhood or their reproductive life plans. This study aims to provide a greater understanding of the reproductive life plans of people* with physical disabilities and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities in Ontario, Canada. Using qualitative methods, this study explores:

  • Experiences of reproductive life planning, including pregnancy desires, prevention (contraception use), and termination experiences;
  • Where or from whom people with disabilities access information about reproductive life planning (and the helpfulness of these sources and resources); and,
  • The psychosocial health of people with disabilities in relation to reproductive life planning, with a focus on their interpersonal relationships (e.g., social support, relationships with partners).

Status: Data collection was completed in February 2021 (30 interview participants). Data analysis is now underway.

Role: Principal Investigator, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Postdoctoral Fellowship)

*trans inclusive

Disability and Reproductive Health during COVID-19 

Overview: This study aims to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the reproductive  health of disabled women and trans people in Canada. This study includes a national survey and interviews. For more information, visit the study website.

Status: Nearly 100 surveys and 60 interviews have been completed. Data analysis is now underway.

Role: Co-Investigator (Lead Investigator: Hilary Brown; Lead Knowledge User: DAWN Canada; for this study, we have also partnered with the ASE Community Foundation for Black Canadians with Disability)

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Operating Grant: Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities)


FlyerOverview: Very little is known about how people experience care during pregnancy and childbirth across Canada, especially among people with various identities, circumstances, and backgrounds. Differences in experiences and outcomes across communities may be linked to access to care, their individual health status, and/or how they are treated. We do not know for sure, and there is very little research that has asked people who have experienced pregnancy and/or birth to decide on what is most important to study and understand. For the RESPCCT study, a diverse group of people who had recent pregnancy experiences created or chose the questions to ask. They worked with researchers and community-based organizations to develop this survey, and to reach people across Canada who want to tell their stories of pregnancy and childbearing.

The RESPCCT study is an online survey for anyone in Canada who has experienced pregnancy and/or birth in the last 10 years. The survey captures information about respect, exceptional care, and kindness as well as stories of disrespect, discrimination, and/or mistreatment during care. Information gathered from the survey will be used to improve childbearing care for all types of communities.

Status: Over 6000 people participated in the study. Data analysis is now underway.

Role: Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator: Saraswathi Vedam)

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Project Grant)

BIU1Birth Includes Us: Understanding Queer and Trans Families Experiences of Pregnancy Care

Overview: The Birth Includes Us study is an extension of the RESPCCT study focused on the pregnancy and birth-related care experiences of LGBTQ2S+ people in Canada and the United States.

Status: Recruitment and data collection are underway. Visit the study website or contact to participate. We have now published a paper describing how we created the survey.

Role: Collaborator (Principal Investigator: Molly Altman)

Funding: UBC-UW Collaborative Research Mobility Award, Royalty Research Fund

Young Sexual Minority Women’s Experiences of Sexual Violence

Overview: Young sexual minority people report elevated rates of sexual violence in comparison to their heterosexual peers. This disparity is largest among lesbian and bisexual people, and in particular bisexual women. Little is known about what drives this health disparity, which is critically necessary information for developing effective sexual violence interventions. This mixed-methods study aims to understand young sexual minority women’s experiences of sexual and mental health, including experiences of sexual violence.

Status: A total of 328 young sexual minority people* (including 141 who identified as bisexual) in Canada and the United States completed the online survey. Interviews were then conducted with 25 of the survey participants (all of whom had reported at least one instance of sexual violence). Data analysis is underway.

Role: Co-Principal Investigator (Nominated Principal Investigator: Corey Flanders)

Funding: American Psychological Foundation (Wayne F. Placek Grant)

*trans inclusive

Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative – Assessing Gaps in Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Services 

logoOverview: The Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative (CPMHC) is Canada’s first and only perinatal mental health advocacy organization calling on the federal government to enact a national perinatal mental health strategy. In collaboration with prominent Canadian researchers in the field of perinatal mental health that form the CPMHC’s National Committee, the CPMHC created a survey for health care providers across Canada to assess whether screening for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (which can include preconception, prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and psychosis) is taking place, what methods are being employed in different jurisdictions, and whether persons are receiving access to timely and appropriate treatment. The CPMHC hopes the results of the survey will shed light on the state of perinatal mental health care in Canada and help guide the Government of Canada in creating a national perinatal mental health strategy.

Status: Over 400 health care providers across Canada completed the survey. The National Report is available and we have published findings from the survey and open-ended (qualitative) survey responses in academic journals.

Role: National Committee Member (Principal Investigator: Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen; CPMHC Co-Founders: Jaime Charlebois and Patricia Tomasi)


For my PhD, I conducted a qualitative study on the perinatal and early motherhood experiences of women with physical disabilities in Ontario, with an emphasis on care experiences and embodiment. See Publications for a copy of my dissertation and associated publications.

As a member of the Re:searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health team and other research teams/labs based in Toronto, I have contributed to several studies in the areas of perinatal health, mental health, and LGBTQ health (and the intersection of these), including:

See Publications for publications associated with the above studies.