Resolution of Pain after Childbirth

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Chronic pain after surgery occurs in 10–40% of individuals, including 5–20% of women after cesarean delivery in previous reports. Pain and depression 2 months after childbirth are independently associated with more severe acute post-delivery pain. Here we examine other predictors of pain at 2 months and determine the incidence of pain at 6 and 12 months after childbirth.


Following Institutional Review Board approval, 1228 women were interviewed within 36 h of delivery. Of these, 937 (76%) were successfully contacted by telephone at 2 months, and, if they had pain, at 6 and 12 months after delivery. The primary outcome measure was presence of pain which began at the time of delivery. We also generated a model of severity of acute post-delivery pain and 2 month pain and depression.


Pain which began at the time of delivery was remarkably rare 6 and 12 months later (1.8% and 0.3% [upper 95% confidence limit, 1.2%], respectively). Past history of pain and degree of tissue damage at delivery accounted for 7.0% and 16.7%, respectively, of one aspect in the variability in acute post-delivery pain. Neither of these factors was associated with incidence of pain 2 months later.


Using a definition of new onset pain from delivery, we show a remarkably low incidence of pain 1 yr after childbirth, including those with surgical delivery. Additionally, degree of tissue trauma and history of chronic pain, risk factors for pain 2 months after other surgery, were unimportant to pain 2 months after cesarean or vaginal delivery.

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