Newest Drug to Help Women Through Labor Is a Favorite Amongst Some Natural Birthers

labor delivery room Some of us want drugs during labor. And so drugs they get! There's a new drug of choice gaining popularity in labor and delivery rooms right now ... and it's one that was used long ago. It also was Demi Moore's apparent drug of choice a couple of years ago when she was apparently having a hard time with her Ashton Kutcher break-up. Not when she was pregnant. Say what? It's nitrous oxide. People call it whip-its or laughing gas. And they say it works wonders for mamas in labor. Even many natural birth advocates give it a thumbs up.

Is it better than an epidural? Sure seems like it. And now more hospitals are offering it.


Nitrous sure sounds better than a huge epidural needle in your spine and then having to deal with that numbness. Nitrous instead is said to help you keep your mental clarity, you know to "run" that marathon called birth, and it's something that you can take in a little or a lot. I think this is huge! There's been murmurs of nitrous making a comeback and now it's really happening.

This could help breastfeeding rates, help mama feel more back to "normal" after, minimize drug complications -- sounds perfect. I know a doula and midwife who fully supports the use of nitrous for laboring mamas.

One of the first hospitals in the United State, Holyoke Medical Center in Massachusetts offers nitrous oxide as an inhaled sedation for labor pain management. It can be taken at any time when mama is laboring.  Ginny Miller, certified nurse midwife with Holyoke Medical Center’s Midwifery Care, said that nitrous "was used in this country till about the 1970s, and then when epidurals (regional anesthesia given through injection in or around the spine) became more available, and the machinery (for nitrous oxide) was not being made anymore to the concentrations you need for labor and delivery, it went out of favor. Now, there’s a new company that makes the equipment."

It's half nitrous and half oxygen and given through a mask over the patient's face. Mama in labor can breathe in as much or as little as she needs. And if she feels she needs more, she can still get an epidural if wanted. Another advantage is that the laboring mom doesn't have to be confined to the bed and she can walk around, which has been known to get labor moving along -- that whole gravity thing. 

I welcome this! A little bit can help mama keep that edge off and allow her to have the birth she wanted without too much intervention, and perhaps a faster recovery time. I hope more hospitals offer it.

What do you think of nitrous oxide for use in labor pain management? Would you try it?


Image via George Ruiz/Flickr

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