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Keywords:

  • preoccupation;
  • parenting;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

This study focuses on early parental preoccupations and behaviors (EPPB) surrounding the birth of a new family member. An interview instrument was developed to assess EPPB at eight months prepartum and two weeks and three months postpartum. Measures with adequate psychometric and conceptual properties were used to assess the overall level of parental preoccupations and associated actions as well as three content domains: caregiving (CARE), relationship building (RELATIONSHIP), and anxious intrusive thoughts associated with harm avoidant behaviors (AITHAB). The hypothesis that preoccupations and behaviors would peak for both parents close to the birth of the child was confirmed. Measures of EPPB were distinguished from symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety. Consistent with our a priori hypothesis the content and character of the AITHAB was found to resemble the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The study findings suggest the potential adaptive significance of EPPB and the possible evolutionary origins of OCD.