Sleeping problems and fatigue in pregnancy are often accepted as a normal part of pregnancy; however, these conditions can be linked to serious consequences for both the mother and child. Despite established links between sleeping disturbance and a wide range of pregnancy complications, little is known about the health-care utilisation of women experiencing sleeping problems and fatigue. This study addresses the existing gap in the literature by examining cross-sectional data to identify health service utilisation patterns of pregnant women experiencing sleeping problems and/or tiredness or fatigue.
In 2010, a sub-study of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health was conducted as a cross-sectional survey of 2445 women who had recently given birth. Associations between reported symptoms of sleeplessness and/or tiredness or fatigue and health service utilisation were determined using logistic regression analysis.
During their pregnancy, 15.2 % of women experienced sleeping problems while 35.4 % experienced tiredness or fatigue. Women most commonly consulted with an obstetrician (n = 96) or a general practitioner (GP) (n = 74) for their tiredness or fatigue rather than a midwife (n = 56). A substantial number of women sought help from a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioner for sleeping problems (33 %) or tiredness/fatigue (28 %).
Sleeping problems and/or tiredness or fatigue is reported by a reasonable percentage of pregnant women, and women obtain assistance from conventional and CAM practitioners for their symptoms, but not all seek help. Given the serious implications of untreated sleep- and fatigue-related symptoms for mother and baby, this area of research deserves and requires more attention.