PURPOSE The objective of this pilot study was to determine pain characteristics of pregnant women immediately before and after childbirth by vaginal delivery and to compare them with the pain intensity reported by physicians. METHODS We evaluated 20 Brazilian women between September and December 2007 with the WHOQOL-Bref instrument, VAS, McGill Pain Questionnaire, and Anxiety Adapted Scale. We interviewed the obstetrician with the VAS about the patient's pain. Data were analyzed with the chi-square test. RESULTS Mean age was 22.35 years (SD = 6.24, range 15-39 years). It was necessary to use oxytocin in 15 (75%) patients, which had no correlation with anxiety degree. Higher intensity of pain (p < 0.05) and higher anxiety index (p < 0.05) were more common in women in the first pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS Higher pain intensity was associated with higher anxiety levels (p < 0.05). Around half of the obstetricians' VAS scores were lower than the VAS scores of women, and probably pain at labor was underestimated and not controlled. Higher indices of anxiety and pain were associated, and were more frequent in women in the first pregnancy.