Memory of Labor Pain Influenced by a Woman's Childbirth Experience

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. By Megan Rauscher NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 11 - Research shows that for about half of women who give birth, memories of the intensity of labor pain decline over time. However, for some women, their recollection of pain does not seem to diminish and for a minority, their memory of pain increases with time.

The study also shows that the memory of childbirth pain is influenced by a woman's overall satisfaction with her labor experience. .... Women who reported labor as a positive experience 2 months after childbirth had the lowest pain scores, and their memory of the intensity of pain had declined by 1 year and 5 years after giving birth. "Memory of labor pain declined during the observation period but not in women with a negative overall experience of childbirth," the team notes in the March issue of BJOG ....

Roughly 60% of women reported positive experiences and less than 10% had negative experiences. For women who said that their childbirth experience was negative or very negative, on average, their assessment of labor pain did not change after 5 years.

"A woman's long-term memory of pain is associated with her satisfaction with childbirth overall," Dr. Waldenstrm said, summing up. "The more positive the experience, the more women forget how painful labour was ..."

The researchers also found that women who had epidural analgesia remembered pain as more intense than women who did not have an epidural ...

- I was not surprised to read that women who have epidurals rate their labour as more painful. Generally, those women may have had an expectation of having pain relief, or of having a pain-free birth. Hence, any pain would have been experienced negatively, and perhaps also they would not have had good birth preparation. I find that women who are well-prepared for labour and birth, have positive experiences and rate their satisfaction with labour very highly.

It is well-known that continuity of care from a known midwife is key to a positive labour experience.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting.