Women's memory of childbirth at two months and one year after the birth

Birth. 2003 Dec;30(4):248-54. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-536x.2003.00254.x.


Background: Studies of women's memory of labor and birth have generally concluded that women's recall is fairly accurate, but the findings are not unanimous. The aim of this study was to compare women's experiences of labor pain and overall experience of the birth at 2 months and 1 year after the delivery.

Methods: A longitudinal cohort study of 2,428 women recruited in early pregnancy from all antenatal clinics in Sweden during 3 weeks evenly spread during 1999-2000 was conducted. In addition to a questionnaire in early pregnancy including background data, the women completed a questionnaire at 2 months and 1 year after the birth including the same 7-point rating scale of pain intensity and the same question about overall experience of labor and birth.

Results: Forty-seven percent of the women made the same assessment of pain intensity, and 60 percent of childbirth overall, at 1 year as they did at 2 months after the birth. One year after the birth, 35 percent recalled pain as less severe, and 18 percent as more severe, and 24 percent said labor and birth overall was more negative, whereas 16 percent said it was more positive.

Conclusion: This study showed great variation in women's memories of labor and birth, and conclusions by some other studies, often based on analyses of group data rather than on the responses of the individual participants were, to some extent, challenged.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Memory*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Parity
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors