Laugh Your Way Through Childbirth

Ladies, there is new method of pain relief for childbirth that could be offered at a hospital near you: laughing gas. Nitrous oxide, as scary as it sounds, is now considered a safe alternative to an epidural. While I don’t exactly like the image of women getting gased like animals during their labors, this does present a different option for those who don’t want to be completely numb down there during labor.

The pain-relief is described as “modest,” as this midwife and nurse described her experiences with nitrous oxide:

[Women] won’t say it makes a tremendous dent in their pain,” [Judith] Bishop told MedPage Today, “but it often provides enough distance and relief for the quintessential response ‘It still hurts but I don’t care.’

Fair enough. But what I find that I like most about this grassroots movement of laughing gas is that is takes into account that women want different types of birthing experiences. Some may opt for a completely pain-free epidural or an elective c-section, but the support for laughing gas acknowledges that some women may want something else entirely.

Since birth has been treated as a “one size fits all” experience as of late, it pleases me to see some alternatives being generated. Judith Rooks, the former head of the American College of Nurse Midwives and professor emeritus at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, agrees with me:

As an anesthesiologist, it has more to do with really coming to grips with the fact that just because something provides complete pain relief doesn’t mean it’s the best option for all women.

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