The first thing to say about this report on new research from Sweden is that women who elected to have a cesarean section were excluded. This is a great pity, as it would be interesting to compare their long-term memory of childbirth pain (albeit post-surgery) with women who delivered vaginally.
Reuters reports how "Dr. Ulla Waldenström, from the Department of Woman and Child Health at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm and colleagues queried 1383 mothers about their memories of labor pain at 2 months, 1 year and 5 years after giving birth.
Five years after the women had given birth, 49% remembered childbirth as less painful than when they rated it 2 months after birth, 35% rated it the same, and 16% rated it as more painful.
"A commonly held view," Waldenström noted in an email to Reuters Health, "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."
However, a woman's labor experience was an influential factor. 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."