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Postpartum Fatigue and Evidence-Based Interventions

Corwin, Elizabeth J. PhD, RN, CNP; Arbour, Megan MS, CNM

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July-August 2007 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 215–220
doi: 10.1097/01.NMC.0000281959.71454.e5
feature article

The aim of this article is to review postpartum fatigue, especially as it relates to the occurrence and pathophysiology of three common postpartum conditions known to contribute to fatigue: anemia, infection/inflammation, and thyroid dysfunction. Fatigue is an unrelenting condition that affects physical and mental health, and it has implications for everyday activities, motivation, and social interactions. Although individuals of all ages and both genders are at risk for developing fatigue, postpartum fatigue is particularly challenging, because the new mother has demanding life tasks to accomplish during this period of time. Postpartum fatigue may impact postpartum maternal role attainment and may place a woman at increased risk for postpartum depression. Although several treatable physiological conditions common during the postpartum period are known to increase fatigue, none of these conditions is a part of the usual assessment of healthy postpartum women. For many women, subtle fatigue may develop, linger or worsen, and even lead to depression, with both the woman and her care provider unaware.

We all know that postpartum fatigue exists; many of us have experienced it personally. These nurses explain the evidence-based interventions that we can institute for our patients with postpartum fatigue.

Elizabeth J. Corwin is an Associate Professor, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus. She can be reached via e-mail at

Megan Arbour is a Graduate Teaching Associate, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

The authors deny any conflict of interest or financial arrangement with any companies or institutions that may benefit from the findings presented in this article.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.