The pains of childbirth are no laughing matter, but a little laughter might be just what the patient orders. Moms delivering at Seton Medical Center Austin (SMCA) now have the option of using nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, for pain management during labor and delivery.
“It’s important to help moms achieve the type of birth experience they are hoping for,” says Sally Grogono, MD, an OB-GYN at SMCA. “Offering nitrous oxide for pain management gives them another tool in the tool box for meeting those goals.”
More often used in birthing centers, a growing number of hospitals are starting to offer laughing gas. It’s been widely used in the UK and other European countries, and is becoming increasingly popular in the US, Grogono says. SMCA is the first hospital in Austin to offer the gas for pain management during labor.
“As an analgesic, it offers relief from pain, but doesn’t eliminate it,” says OB-GYN John Harkins, MD, academic medical director of perinatal services at SMCA. “When inhaled, it can cause a sense of euphoria, and takes the edge off.”
Harkins says laughing gas is a safe and effective choice for moms who are looking for more pain management options.