Fatigue of Chinese Mothers from Pregnancy to Postpartum
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Purpose: Many pregnant women experience fatigue that influences quality of life or pregnancy outcomes. Trend of fatigue from pregnancy to postpartum was not understood. This study aimed to explore changes of fatigue level from pregnancy to postpartum and prediction of prenatal fatigue on infant prematurity. Methods: The study was a longitudinal design with nonprobability sampling. One-hundred-ninety-eight pregnant women with mean age of 29.69 and 27.37 weeks of gestation were followed up monthly (T1 to T3) till 4-6 weeks postpartum (T4). More than half of them were primiparous (56.6%), very happy about the pregnancy (50.5%), employed (63.1%), and had an educational level higher than senior high school (68.2%). The 16-item Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue (MAFS, alpha=.95 in this study) was used to measure fatigue. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation, and repeated measure ANOVA were applied. Results: In general, participants did not score high on the MAFS from T1 to T4. More participants experienced fatigue from T1 to T4 (15.7%, 20.4%, 28.4%, and 29.8%, respectively). Fatigue at all survey time points were strongly intercorrelated (r=.50-.76). Repeated measure ANOVA showed a linear increasing trend of fatigue by time (F=8.57, < .001). Fatigued mothers at T1 had high scores on MAFS and high rate of experiencing fatigue from T2 to T4 (56.7%, 64.5%, and 58.1%, respectively). Fatigue at any time point was not related with age or differed by employment, education, or happy about pregnancy. Multiparous mothers experienced higher level of fatigue during pregnancy but not postpartum than primiparous. Prenatal fatigue from T1 to T3 was not related to infant birthweight but significantly and weakly correlated with baby's gestational age. Fatigue at T3 was significantly but weakly correlated with APGAR scores. Conclusion: Active and early screening for mothers of fatigue can help healthcare professionals to prevent or manage fatigue of pregnant and postpartum women, especially multiparous.