Persistent Pain After Cesarean Delivery and Vaginal Delivery: A Prospective Cohort Study


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Abstract

BACKGROUND:Persistent pain after cesarean delivery and vaginal delivery has been the subject of only a few research articles. The primary outcome of our prospective study was the incidence of persistent pain and its association to mode of delivery. We also studied the nature and intensity of pain after delivery.METHODS:A questionnaire was distributed on postpartum day 2 to 1052 women who had given birth vaginally and to 502 who had undergone cesarean delivery in a tertiary maternity hospital in Helsinki, Finland, in 2010. A second questionnaire was mailed to the women 1 year later. We recorded the women’s health history, obstetric history and previous pain history, details of cesarean delivery or vaginal delivery, and description of pain, if present.RESULTS:The incidence of persistent pain at 1 year after delivery was greater after cesarean delivery (85/379 [22%]) than after vaginal delivery (58/713 [8%]: P < .001, relative risk 2.8, 95% confidence interval 2.0–3.8). Because of initial differences in the groups, we performed logistic regression analysis with persistent pain as a dependent factor that confirmed the mode of delivery as a predictor of persistent pain. The incidence of persistent pain graded as moderate or more severe (25/379 [7%] vs 25/713 [4%]: P = .022, relative risk 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.1–3.2) was also greater after cesarean delivery than vaginal delivery. The incidence of persistent pain was significantly more common in women with a history of previous pain and among primiparous women in logistic regression analysis. The women with persistent pain had experienced more pain the day after cesarean delivery (P = .023) and during vaginal delivery (P = .030) than those who did not report persistent pain. Complications such as perineal trauma, episiotomy, vacuum extraction, endometritis, wound infection, or ante- or postpartum depression did not predispose women to persistent pain. Dyspareunia was reported by 41% of women after vaginal delivery and by 2% after cesarean delivery among women with persistent pain at 1 year.CONCLUSIONS:The incidence of persistent pain at 1 year is greater after cesarean delivery than after vaginal delivery. Pain shortly after cesarean delivery and during vaginal delivery correlated with persistent pain.

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