Photo by Shutterstock

Nitrous oxide, often referred to as laughing gas, is regaining popularity as a pain relief option for mamas in labor. First introduced in 1881 as a labor relief option, inhaled nitrous oxide is one of the oldest labor drugs — and it has remained a viable choice to diminish pain in some areas of the world. According to reports, 60% of UK laboring women, 50% of laboring women in Australia and 50% of women in Finland and Canada use this drug for pain relief during labor. However, in the United States, studies show that just 1% of women report using nitrous oxide as a labor analgesia and the same report states that just two centers in the United States even offer it routinely. With epidurals and other harsher drugs on hand, nitrous oxide has simply fallen out of favor in most U.S. hospital settings — but that may be changing. Some claim nitrous is far safer than having a needle stuck in your spine for an epidural and it allows you to keep a clear head while laboring, with few adverse effects. That said, the pain relief nitrous oxide offers is hard to gauge and nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change, so there are downsides. Still, for mamas seeking some pain relief that’s needle-free, nitrous oxide may be one of the better bets. Holyoke Medical Center in Massachusettes is one of the first hospitals in the United States to offer the drug to women in labor.

+ Source