Maternal fatigue and depression

Maternal fatigue and depression

Identifying vulnerability and relationship to early parenting practices

Catherine Wade, Rebecca Giallo and Amanda Cooklin

Depression and fatigue are serious health concerns for mothers in the postnatal period. This study tested whether mothers could be clustered into groups based upon reported symptoms of fatigue and depression during the first year postpartum. Factors associated with cluster membership were identified, and differences in parenting self-efficacy and parenting behaviour among the clusters were assessed. Participants were 261 women in the first year postpartum who responded to a community based survey into the wellbeing of parents of young children. Results revealed four clusters of women, including those with (a) minimal symptoms of fatigue and depression, (b) fatigue only, (c) moderate depression and low to moderate fatigue symptoms, and (d) high fatigue and depression symptoms. The groups were not distinguished by demographic characteristics, but rather by adequacy of social support, parenting stress, sleep quality and quality of the couple relationship. Differences in parenting self-efficacy and parenting behaviour were observed among the clusters. Implications for the assessment of both depression and fatigue in the postpartum are discussed, along with implications for intervention and support.


Wade, C., Giallo, R., & Cooklin, A. (2012). Maternal fatigue and depression: Identifying vulnerability and relationship to early parenting practices. Advances in Mental Health, 10(3), 277-291.

Publication/Completion Year:

Research Focus

  • Support for vulnerable and at-risk families
  • Prevention (and early intervention) of child abuse and neglect
Child Abuse Type(s):
  • Type not specified


Information obtained from:
Literature Review
Added to Register: 30 June 2016
Last updated: 30 June 2016

Publication meta

Project Type:
Research only
Sample Size:
Large (100+ participants)

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