Laughing Gas Gives Women Another Option To Manage Labor Pain

Laughing Gas - American Health Council

Since the mid-1800s, laughing gas been used for pain relief, but these days it’s usually associated with a visit to the dentist. In the early 20th century, women used laughing gas to ease the pain of labor, but its use declined in favor of more potent analgesia. Now a small band of midwives is helping to revive its use in the U.S.

One hospital in Rhode Island, South County Hospital in South Kingstown, has just added nitrous oxide, the formal name for laughing gas, to its menu of pain relief options for labor.

Amy Marks jumped at the chance to use it because she wanted to avoid an epidural — an injection in the fluid around the spinal cord that blocks feeling below the waist. Now she sits with her son, Ethan Thomas, barely a day old, snug in the crook of her arm.

“When the contractions started getting pretty intense, I was like, wow, this is pretty bad,” says Marks, who is 31 and lives in Wakefield, R.I. “So they brought it in and it really took the edge off.”

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