Laughing Gas During Labor? Yes, Please!

Julie Ryan Evans

laborFrom the day I learned how a baby comes out of a woman, I was terrified of giving birth. As a young girl, I simply couldn't imagine how anyone could ever tolerate such torture. As I got older and began to hear words like epidural, I relaxed a bit, UNTIL I found out those came via a needle in your back. OUCH! I pretty much crossed biological children off my list for about a decade after that discovery.

I'm an admitted wimp when it comes to physical pain, and always have been, which is why even when I go to the dentist for a cleaning, they've been known to give me a little nitrous oxide to help me through and, more likely, to let them do their job without me wincing and screaming with every pinch. And oh, how I love nitrous oxide. It has an amazing ability to make me relax and endure whatever I need to no matter how painful; pain even becomes somewhat enjoyable. They don't call it laughing gas for nothing.

So when I did end up with a child in my uterus that was going to need to come out, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea -- they could just give me a little nitrous, and I'd be a birthing champ. My doctor at the time brushed the idea off, but now it seems I was on to something and more hospitals are starting to offer it to women in the delivery room.

According to ABC, it was used for decades previously in the United States, and is still used commonly elsewhere in the world. Here I thought it was my own brilliant idea.

If not brilliant, it's at least one women may consider and discuss with their doctor. It won't eliminate pain, but it does make it easier to tolerate, and there are plenty of benefits like the lack of a need for an anesthesiologist and big old needle in your back, to name a few.

As far as safety, there's no evident harm done to the baby, and some believe it's less dangerous for a baby than other pain management methods. The Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is currently reviewing it, so there surely will be more information coming. But I for one am glad that birth may finally become a laughing matter.

Would you use nitrous oxide during birth? Do you think it would help you?

Image via MamaLoves/Flickr

Read More