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fatigue, labor, pain, pregnancy, sleep



  1. Beebe, Kathleen R. PhD, RNC
  2. Lee, Kathryn A. PhD, RN, FAAN


Sleep disturbance is a typical complaint during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. Previous studies of this phenomenon have not measured sleep in the last days of pregnancy as women transition into labor. Poor sleep can have potentially adverse effects on labor and delivery.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the amount of sleep obtained in the 5 days preceding childbirth, and the relationship between sleep in this time frame and both pain and fatigue during early labor.


Methods: Thirty-five nulliparous women were recruited from childbirth preparation classes. Sleep was measured with wrist actigraphy continuously until hospital admission for delivery. Participants completed self-report measures of pain and fatigue in early labor prior to hospital admission.


Result and Discussion: Most women experienced spontaneous labor onset during the night. Sleep quality deteriorated progressively over the last 5 days of pregnancy, and was the lowest on the night before hospital admission. This was the case even when labor was induced (40%).


Conclusion: There was a significant relationship between the amount of sleep the night before hospitalization and pain perception in women with spontaneous labor onset. Results from this study can be used to advise women in late pregnancy about expected sleep patterns and measures to optimize sleep and rest.