Identifying trajectories of birth-related fatigue of expectant fathers

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Abstract

Aims and objectives.

The objectives of this prospective study were to identify birth-related fatigue trajectories in expectant fathers with the progress of labour and the physiological, psychological and situational factors related to specific trajectory patterns.

Background.

An increasing number of fathers participate in their partner's labour; however, their fatigue experience remains unclear. Previous studies have focused on overall groups without considering the possibility of between-subject heterogeneity. With an advanced data-analytic strategy, it is feasible to identify subgroup variation within the population over time.

Design.

A prospective, repeated measures design was used.

Method.

A convenience sample of 108 Taiwanese expectant fathers was followed throughout the labour process. Data were collected by visual analogue scales and self-administered questionnaires. The repeated measures of fatigue were analysed by using semi-parametric, group-based modelling.

Results.

Two distinct groups of individual trajectories among the expectant fathers were identified; the persistent low-fatigue group (49·2%) and the persistent high-fatigue group (50·8%). After birth, a moderate level of fatigue persisted in the high-fatigue group. The fastest period of increasing level in the persistent high-fatigue group was in the latent phase. The persistent high-fatigue group also experienced significantly more sleep difficulties prior to labour and more anxiety than the persistent low-fatigue group.

Conclusions.

Identifying and characterising meaningful clusters of trajectories could provide a better understanding of the birth-related fatigue experience of fathers and contributes to recognising the target client and timing for early intervention.

Relevance to clinical practice.

There are points in time at which professional caregiver actions may have an effect on the birth-related fatigue of fathers. Caregivers should prevent high levels of fatigue, which could accumulate as fathers accompany the women entering the labour phase. Fathers who present with high fatigue at onset of labour should receive early intervention, especially in the rapid-increasing fatigue period.

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