Remembrance of labor pain: how valid are retrospective pain measurements?

Kristine Turner Norvell, Fannie Gaston-Johansson, Gerd Fridh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Recently, several authors have questioned the reliability and validity of relying on retrospective assessment of labor pain. Many studies designed to determine the relationships between psychosocial and demographic factors and pain intensity during labor have relied on such measurements. The purpose of this prospective study was to determine if primiparas and multiparas can accurately remember the pain of labor. Fifty primiparas and 88 multiparas participated in the study. Prospective assessment of in-labor pain was performed using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) in 3 phases of labor. Retrospective assessment of labor pain was performed 2 days post partum using the VAS. Results showed that there were significant differences between the amount of actual pain reported and the amount of pain and discomfort remembered by both primiparas and multiparas. The mean rating for remembered discomfort was higher than for remembered pain. The subjects tended to deflate the intensity of their labor pain. The results suggest that previous studies that have relied on retrospective assessments of labor pain may be invalid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Labor pain
  • Pain measurement
  • Retrospective assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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