What happens when fatigue lingers for 18 months after delivery?

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Jan-Feb 1999;28(1):87-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.1999.tb01969.x.


Objective: To understand the consequences when mothers experience fatigue throughout the first 18 months after birth.

Design: Secondary analysis of data from a longitudinal study. Fatigue was measured five times between birth and 18 months after delivery.

Setting: Data for the longitudinal study were collected in different settings (hospital, telephone, and homes).

Participants: White mothers who delivered full-term neonates of normal birth weight in a community hospital (N=229).

Main outcome measures: Persistent fatigue was operationally defined as the report of at least one symptom of fatigue at all five time periods. The association between persistent fatigue and performance outcomes (maternal health, infant health, and infant development) was tested.

Results: Results were significant using alpha of .05. Persistent fatigue is associated with perceived maternal health and infant development at 18 months but not infant health.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that persistent fatigue may have a negative effect on performance outcomes for mothers and infants. Assessment for fatigue symptoms should be part of each nursing contact and interpreted as a pattern. Helping mothers choose methods of symptom relief and energy conservation can benefit both the mother and the infant.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Development
  • Fatigue / nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Maternal-Child Nursing*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Time Factors