Laughing gas changing the way women endure labor pain

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, July 16, 2016
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Many women have turned to laughing gas as a drug-free alternative to get through the pain of childbirth.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Many women have turned to laughing gas as a drug-free alternative to get through the pains of childbirth.

New mom Megan Edmonds gave birth to baby Asher with the help of laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide.

"My goal was to, to try to get through with no drugs and no epidural. It just takes the edge off. I would say about 35 to 40 percent of the edge in the beginning of contractions and everything," Edmonds said.

It changes and alters the perception of pain for patients, according to Dr. Albert Phillips at the Providence Saint John's Health Center (PSJHC).

The PSJHC is the first hospital in the region to offer nitrous oxide for birthing moms.

"Nitrous oxide is actually being used all over the world, but here in the United States it didn't seem to get as much favor as it did in other parts of the world," Phillips said.

The nitrous oxide is self-administered in order to give a sense of control to the women.

"The other thing that really helps was that you have to breathe in the gas and breathe out the gas so it keeps your breathing on point," Edmonds said.

While nitrous oxide can cross into the placenta, studies have indicated that laughing gas has a very good safety record.

"There's no indication that this gas causes any problems with the baby," Phillips said.

Nurse Eyelle Sacher said that Edmonds' seven-hour labor progressed naturally, and she was able to avoid the epidural while having decreased pain.

Laughing gas is also wallet-friendly. PSJHC said that it is not charging women in labor to use it.

"It was amazing to have on hand if you're looking into, you know, trying no epidural and IV medications," Edmonds said.