Memories of labour can worsen over time

Forgetting the memory of giving birth doesn't happen for every woman

The theory that the memory of giving birth fades over time may well be an old wives’ tale as researchers reveal one in six mothers still remembers the agony of going through labour.

A study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology revealed that 50% of women who have been through the pains of labour do forget what they endured, but 16% recall the pain as more acute than their assessment of it two months after giving birth.

Of 2,428 women quizzed, 35% said they thought the level of pain was the same as how they felt two months after birth.

The Swedish study analysed the memory of labour pain two months and one year after birth. The same women were asked to then recall their memories of child bearing five years after the event.

Researchers found that women who had experienced a relatively smooth labour had gradually forgotten the pain they went through, compared with 10% of those who suffered during labour and said they still recalled the pain five years on.

Professor Ulla Waldenström, who conducted the study, said: ‘A commonly held view is that women forget the intensity of labour pain. The present study provides evidence that in modern obstetric care this is true for about 50% of women.’

She added: ‘The more positive the experience, the more women forget how painful labour was.’

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