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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Dianna Sorenson


physiology of mothers, psychology of mothers, employment of mothers, fatigue


After the birth of a baby, the postpartum employed mother may encounter both physical and psychosocial changes that provide challenges to her health status. The symptoms of dysphoric mood, fatigue, and sleep disturbances have been recognized as reasons for which postpartum women seek health care services. Yet, unless the symptom experience is clinically significant, few interventions are offered. The recognition that causal relationships exist between early symptom distress and clinical diagnoses identified a need that health care providers must better understand and manage postpartum symptoms. Further, a commitment to better understand and meet the needs of employed postpartum women offers positive implications both within the home and employment environments.
The current study attempts to better understand the relationships between the variables of dysphoric mood, fatigue, sleep alterations, employment, and postpartum adaptation. The original study (1994) collected antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum data from 85 pregnant women. The current study was limited to those subjects (n=38) who completed Phase Ill-Postpartum of the larger study. The instruments utilized in the current investigation were the Profile of Moods States, the Chronic Fatigue Index-Revised, the Activity/Rest/Sleep Diaries, open ended questions about reasons and coping methods for fatigue, and the Index of Wellbeing.
The data analysis revealed a relatively high degree of dysphoric distress and fatigue. Sleep alterations, with the exception of sleep interruptions, were rare. Statistical significance was set at p<.10 to avoid type I errors. Correlational coefficients revealed positive relationships between fatigue and mood and sleep alterations and mood. Both negative and positive correlations were found between sleep alterations and fatigue. Postpartum adaptation had a negative correlation with mood and fatigue, and no significant correlation with sleep.
Content analysis of the open-ended questions about fatigue revealed that the postpartum employed women identified reasons for their fatigue as primarily situational (such as multiple roles, childcare, and employment). This was consistent with other research findings. The main theme identified to cope with fatigue was related to activity. Rest/Sleep was the single largest category of responses identified as a way to cope with postpartum fatigue.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mothers -- Physiology
Mothers -- Psychology
Mothers -- Employment



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1998 Denise Brown. All rights reserved