Longitudinal changes in fatigue and energy during pregnancy and the postpartum period

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Mar-Apr 1999;28(2):183-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.1999.tb01983.x.


Objective: To describe perceived levels of fatigue and energy before, during, and after pregnancy in a group of healthy women experiencing uncomplicated pregnancies; and to examine relationships between their perception of fatigue and energy, parity, and physiologic indicators of sleep disturbances, thyroid function, and iron deficiency.

Design: Prospective, longitudinal.

Setting: Participants' homes.

Participants: Convenience sample of 24 primiparous and 1 8 multiparous women.

Main outcome measures: Change in fatigue and energy over time. Measures were obtained at follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle before pregnancy, at each trimester, and at 1 and 3 months after delivery.

Results: Younger age and lower prepregnancy levels of iron, ferritin, and hemoglobin explained 1st trimester fatigue. Less total sleep was related to fatigue in the 3rd trimester. Postpartum fatigue was related to reduced amounts of sleep and low levels of ferritin and hemoglobin.

Conclusions: With the exception of premenstrual (luteal) fatigue, progesterone levels were unrelated to fatigue. Neither paid employment nor family variables influenced perception of fatigue. Nurses working with childbearing populations should counsel women about significant 1st trimester fatigue so they can prepare their work and home environments in an attempt to achieve adequate rest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Obstetric Nursing*
  • Parity
  • Postpartum Period / blood
  • Postpartum Period / physiology*
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Hemoglobins
  • Ferritins