Laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide, is helping women power through labor. The gas was a popular childbirth option in the United States until the 1930s, when the epidural became popular.
The Minnesota Birthing Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota offers the gas.
New mom Jenna White, who gave birth to a daughter on January 5, said the gas felt safer than an epidural.
It felt more like a middle ground than getting an epidural. It felt a little safer.
A popular choice in England and Canada, the choice has seen a resurgence in the United States since 2012.
Midwife Kerry Dixon of the Birthing Center said epidurals took over because they were more profitable.
The average cost for a woman opting for nitrous oxide is less than a $100, while an epidural can run up to $3,000 because of extra anesthesia fees.
According to the director of obstetric anesthetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. William Camann, laughing gas relaxes and reduces pain.
It’s a relatively mild pain reliever that causes immediate feelings of relaxation and helps relieve anxiety. It makes you better able to cope with whatever pain you’re having.
Dr. Camann also stated 10 years ago that laughing gas was used in several hospital and is now available in hundreds.
Maybe 10 years ago, less than five or 10 hospitals used it [for women in labor]. Now, probably several hundred. It’s really exploded. Many more hospitals are expressing interest.
New mom Shauna Zurawski’s shared her experience.
I instantly felt relaxed. Before, I was so tense. I was fighting against the contractions, which definitely wasn’t good. But after the laughing gas, my body was able to do what it was supposed to. It was so neat.
Senior Medical Contributor for ABC News and OB/GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton said laughing gas can change awareness levels.
In delivering over 1,500 babies, I had never used it nor has anyone asked for [nitrous oxide]. Most moms want to be totally aware when they are in labor.
In New Zealand, about 70 percent of women in labor use the gas. When Dixon told a New Zealand patient the gas wasn’t used in the United States, she expressed surprise.
I thought they have everything in America!
Chemicals from the gas leave a patient’s system quickly, and possible side effects are nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness and have no negative effect on the baby. Patients can also choose to stop the gas.
If laughing gas doesn’t prove strong enough, an epidural remains an option.