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Research in Nursing & Health

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Postpartum sleep and fatigue have bidirectional relationships with depressive symptoms and challenge women's everyday functioning. The everyday process of managing postpartum sleep and fatigue in the context of depressive symptoms remains unexplored. We conducted a grounded theory study with a sample of 19 women who screened positive on the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS™) Short Form at 3 weeks postpartum. Women completed semi‐structured in‐home interviews and the full PDSS and Modified Fatigue Symptoms Checklist at 1, 3, and 6 months postpartum. The sample was on average 27 years old, with 2.8 children, and 63% were African‐American. They described a basic social process of Finding a Routine Together, during which women's experiences with their infants progressed from Retreating at month 1 toward Finding a New Normal at month 6. In their work to Find a Routine Together, mothers’ patterns of change over time were continuous, gradual, or prolonged. Their progress was influenced by depressive symptoms, social support, work and daycare, stability in social circumstances, and underlying stressors. This study's findings suggest the need to allocate resources and tailor interventions to meet the needs of women who are most vulnerable to the health effects of ongoing persistent severe fatigue, disordered sleep, and sub‐clinical and clinical levels of depressive symptoms.


Accepted version. Research in Nursing & Health, Vol. 40, No. 2 (April 2017): 132-142. DOI. © 2017 Wiley. Used with permission.

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