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Peak Pain Level Main Factor in Negative Childbirth Memories: Study

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FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The peak intensity of pain during delivery, not the amount of time in labor, influences women's memories of pain during childbirth, a new study suggests.

The study included 320 pregnant women who were asked to rate their pain every 20 minutes during labor. The women were asked about their labor pain again two days and two months after giving birth.

They rated their pain on a scale of 1 (no pain) to 100 (worst pain).

The women's memories of pain during labor were affected by the peak and end levels of pain, and whether or not they received an epidural to relieve their pain. The length of labor did not influence their recall of labor pain, according to the findings published online recently in the journal Psychological Science.

"In our study, mothers who received an epidural remembered their pain as relatively moderate -- on average they rated their pain at around 70 after two days and about 65 after two months," Eran Chajut, a psychological scientist at the Open University of Israel, said in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science.

This could be because women who receive an epidural are likely to feel less pain near the end of labor, the researchers suggested.

"In practical terms, these results suggest that epidural analgesia is not only beneficial during childbirth itself but also effective in modulating memory of it," the authors wrote.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about labor pain.

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