Friday, September 20, 2013

Postpartum Fatigue: Part 2 - Effects on Parenting

In part 1 of this series we talked about postpartum fatigue, how common it is, and also things that can increase the risk for or contribute to it. Now in part 2, we’ll explore how fatigue can affect parenting.

While postpartum fatigue may be an inevitable part of parenting a young baby, it’s important to be aware of how it affects you as a parent. Fatigue can result in forgetfulness, irritability, lack of physical stamina, and an inability to concentrate. (McQueen 2003) Studies also show how fatigue can impact parenting specifically. Here’s how.
Fatigue can:
  • Increase parental stress
  • Limit patience in dealing with infant crying
  • Decrease parenting satisfaction
  • Decrease parent confidence in the ability to interact with the child
  • Cause parents to become more irritable and easily frustrated with child’s behavior (and expectations of behavior, behavior seen as more demanding)
  • Result in parents being less warm and affectionate
  • Decrease involvement with child, as in shared activities
  • Make it harder to plan and problem solve
We understand this might sound a little depressing, but knowing is half the battle, right? Just being aware that fatigue can affect you and how you parent in these ways will help you have more patience with yourself and maybe even convince you that postpartum fatigue is a big deal, maybe a bigger deal than most people realize. Hopefully that will encourage you to get help from family and friends during this challenging time and rest whenever possible. In our next post we will share tips and tools to help you fight fatigue! There are definitely some things you can change that can make your life a little easier.

McQueen A, Mander R. Tiredness and fatigue in the postnatal period. J Adv Nurs. 2003 Jun;42(5):463-9.

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