Women who experience a long childbirth won't necessarily remember it as being more painful than a short one, according to researchers from the Open University of Israel and Duke University.
"This phenomenon -- called duration neglect -- is particularly interesting given the common use of epidural analgesia," says psychological scientist Eran Chajut of the Open University of Israel, one of the authors of the study. "This form of analgesia was developed mainly to counter labour pain, but its everlasting influence on the memory of childbirth is important as well."
Working with 320 participants, the researchers surveyed their labour, asking them to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 100 -- with 100 representing the worst pain -- every 20 minutes.
They called the women two days after their births asking for an overall evaluation of the pain using the same scale, and did the same two months later.
Researchers found the women did not relate the duration of their labour to the pain they recalled.
Use of epidural was taken into account and the women reported similar levels of pain at the beginning of their labour whether or not they had been given one, but those who had given birth with an epidural remembered less pain overall, even if their labour had been longer than that of another who didn't.
"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," explains Chajut.
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