Laughing Gas

New Trend in Delivery Rooms: Laughing Gas for Labor Pain

The Short of It

It’s no laughing matter; laughing gas is increasingly being offered at birthing centers for pain management during labor.

The Lowdown

You may have received laughing gas during a dental procedure, but now some women are choosing nitrous oxide over an epidural to help them get through hard contractions.

“It’s totally patient controlled. I had complete control over when I took breaths and how many breaths to take,” a patient who opted to use laughing gas at the Minnesota Birth Center in Minneapolis told WCCO news.

Other patients said they liked that the gas allowed them the freedom to move around, unlike being hooked up to an epidural drip, and laughing gas is less expensive than an epidural.

Before you laugh off the idea of getting high on nitrous oxide during labor, consider that the United Kingdom commonly uses this form of pain management for laboring women. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved self-administering machines in the United States.

The Upshot

My fear about using laughing gas during labor is that I’d get too loopy to enjoy the process. Because birthing a baby is a beautiful experience. In fact, I was so determined to feel everythinggiving birth to my third child, that I used no pain management whatsoever. That was no picnic! So, I do understand that for some women, laughing gas is a nice middle ground between an epidural and “natural” delivery.