FATIGUE IN EARLY PREGNANCY: An Exploratory Study

Authors

  • Nedra Reeves CNM, MS,

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    • Nedra Reeves, CNM, MS, is a certified nurse-midwife working in private practice. She received her B.S.N. from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, and her M.S. in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • Kathleen Potempa RN, DNSc,

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    • Kathleen Potempa, RN, DNSc, is on assistant professor in the Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Rush Medical College, Chicago. Dr. Potempa received her D.N.Sc. and M.S. at Rush University. Her research includes the development of an instrument to measure subjective fatigue and the evaluation of fatigue symptoms in chronic illness.

  • Agatha Gallo RN, PhD

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    • Agatha Gallo, RN, PhD, is un assistant professor in the Department of Maternal-Child Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Gallo received her PhD and M.S.N. from the University of Pennsylvania. Her recent research has focused on how families define and manage a child's chronic illness.


Address correspondence to Agatha M. Gallo, RN, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Maternal-Child Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing 845 South Damen, Chicago, IL 60612.

ABSTRACT

The experience of fatigue in early pregnancy was studied, using a general model of fatigue as the conceptual framework. A convenience sample of 30 women, age 20–35 years, who were at less than 20 weeks' gestation and without health problems were included in the study. Physiologic, psychological, and environmental factors were measured and related to the occurrence and intensity of fatigue. Pearson correlations and content analysis were used to analyze the data. Results showed that a large portion of the sample (90%) experienced fatigue and that this fatigue had a significant impact on their ability to maintain personal and social activities. Significant correlations were observed between fatigue and the physiologic variables of nausea and feeling bred upon awakening from sleep. There was no significant relationship between fatigue and environmental variables such as number of hours worked or the number of children living in the home. In addition, significant correlations were observed between fatigue and psychological variables that included depression, anger, anxiety, and confusion. These data suggest that fatigue is a significant problem for pregnant women and is not relieved by test. These data further suggest that the fatigue may be related to other physiologic changes, perhaps hormonal, that mediate physiologic and psychological variables, including fatigue.

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