Do mothers remember key events during labor?

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Jul;189(1):195-200. doi: 10.1067/mob.2003.371.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy of maternal recall of key events during their most recent delivery.

Study design: After institutional review board approval, women who were delivered at Loyola University Medical Center were recruited. Patients were asked a maximum of 13 questions about major labor management events that were applicable to the course of their delivery. Patient responses were compared with the delivery records.

Results: We interviewed 277 ethnically diverse women with a median interval since delivery of 10 weeks and a mean age at delivery of 26 years. Forty percent of the women answered all questions correctly. Mothers with better recollection were more likely to be white, older, to have had more recent deliveries and were more likely to have had cesarean delivery.

Conclusion: Sixty percent of mothers cannot recall accurately at least one major labor management event. Studies that rely on patient recall of obstetric variables are likely to have high error rates.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Age Factors
  • Cesarean Section
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Educational Status
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Labor Stage, First
  • Labor Stage, Second
  • Labor, Obstetric / physiology*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors