Physical Health Conditions of Pregnant Women in the Third Trimester

Wednesday, July 13, 2011: 8:50 AM

Ching-Yu Cheng, PhD
School of Nursing, Chang Gung Institute of Technology, Chiayi, Taiwan
Shwu-Ru Liou, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Chang Gung Institute of Technology at Chiayi Campus, Chiayi, Taiwan
Panchalli Wang, MD
Obstetrics/Gynecology, Chiayi Christian Hospital, Chia-Yi, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learners will be able to name physical conditions that are frequently experienced by postpartum mothers.

Learning Objective 2: The learners will be able to categorize physical conditions that are frequently experienced by postpartum mothers.

Purpose: Pregnant women experience physical changes that may lower women’s quality of life; yet, very few studies were done to explore pregnant women’s physical health. The purpose of this study was to explore physical health of pregnant women over 26 weeks of gestation. Research questions included (a) what are the occurrence rate of physical health conditions experienced by pregnant women over 26 weeks of gestation? (b) can physical health conditions be clustered?

Methods:  The study was a cross-sectional design with snowball sampling. 129 pregnant women who were over 17 years old and without pregnancy complications participated. Mean age of the participants was 40.52; 55.0% of them were primipara, 43.3% were homemakers, and 59.4% had an educational level higher than senior high school. 44.2% were pregnant within 27-32 weeks, 35.7% were 32-36 weeks, and 20.2% were over 36 weeks. The Physical Health Condition Checklist (PHCC), a 43-item 4-point scale (0 for none, 3 for severe) was developed and used. Cronbach’s alpha for the PHCC was 0.91. Conditions that were experienced by more than 25% of participants (25 conditions) were categorized by using principal component analysis.

Results: More than 60% of participants experienced tiredness, frequent urination, low back pain, sleep interruption, cramps in legs, increased vaginal discharge, weight gain, and decreased in memory. Participants experienced a mean of 15.36 (SD=7.37) physical conditions. Occurrence rate of all conditions did not differ by gestational age groups. Seven components were emerged and could explain 66.15% of the variance of physical conditions: fatigue and pain-related, gastrointestine-related, circulation-related, headache, weight gain/lack of sexual desire, and bleeding gums/perineal discomfort.

Conclusion: Pregnant women need to be actively assessed for and consulted on physical conditions that are frequently experienced. Conditions in a cluster can be assessed and managed together. Longitudinal research focusing on diverse ethnicities is needed.