Background. Previous studies on fatigue and pregnancy outcomes were confined to women with occupational fatigue and did not include women who did not work outside the home. Fatigue during mid- and late pregnancy has rarely been studied.
Aims. This paper reports a study examining the associations between work factors, household factors, and fatigue among low-risk pregnant women in Taiwan and links the effects of fatigue to preterm births and caesarean deliveries.
Methods. The participants were 633 women who were 20–36 weeks pregnant without evidence of obstetrical complications at the time of interview. Pregnancy outcomes were abstracted from the hospital records after delivery. Fatigue was measured using the Fatigue Symptom Checklist. Women were categorized into three groups according to their work status: non-working, sedentary work, and active work. Other work factors included hours worked and exposure to adverse work environments. Household factors included household work and childcare responsibilities. Multiple linear regression and logistic regression were used for the analysis.
Results. The factors significantly associated with fatigue in the regression model were age, infection during pregnancy, bleeding after 12 weeks of pregnancy, and work status. Women who did not work outside of the home had significantly higher fatigue scores than those who did sedentary work outside the home. Younger women had higher fatigue scores than older women. Fatigue scores during pregnancy predicted caesarean deliveries, given that age and obstetrical risks were controlled in the model.
Conclusions. Fatigue is a significant problem for pregnant women. Fatigue assessments should include morbidities during pregnancy as well as household and work-related factors. Special attention should be paid to women who do not work outside the home. Staff should elicit information about fatigue and intervene early, as this may help decrease the number of caesarean deliveries.