Louisville delivery rooms offering nitrous oxide to women in labor
Laughing gas or Nitrous oxide is usually used in dentist offices. It's now being given to expecting mothers during childbirth.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is usually used in dentist offices. But it's now being given to expecting mothers during childbirth. The old concept is making a comeback in delivery rooms around the country.
"When we look at from the beginning of labor anesthesia to where we are present, there's been many modalities and changes that have happened through the years, and nitrous used to be a big deal," says Dr. Reed Nett, OB/GYN at Norton Healthcare.
Dating back to the 1800s, nitrous oxide, or laughing gas was used for pain relief around the world. Dr. Nett said this was long before epidurals revolutionized child birth in the US. "As the population changes and what people desire changes, there's been a lot of a movement or patients being more natural," Dr. Nett said.
She said the trend began again on the coast and made its way around the country. "This is a boomerang. It's come back to us essentially."
Upon request, nitrous oxide, which usually wears off within minutes, can be used at any point throughout the entire labor.
"It was driven by the community. The community came to us and said, 'this is what we want. We want this to be a part of our options' and that drove us to say, 'okay, it's being asked for,' Dr. Nett said.
With a nurse by their side, it's patient controlled. "You have to be able to physically put it up, take a big breath in and you have to blow out into the machine before you take it off," said registered nurse Jerica Riley.
Nitrous oxide relieves pain, decreases anxiety while still allowing patients to experience natural child birth. "Typically but not always, the patient who uses nitrous is the patient who's trying to do a non-epiduralized birth, but it doesn't exclude that opportunity," Dr. Nett said.
Tina Zeller opted for nitrous oxide when giving birth to her son Daniel Jude four months ago. "It just really added that element of ease, but there was that loopy factor," Zeller said.
This was her second natural child birth. "For me, the nitrous oxide just really created like a strong birth experience that's really special. So, I would probably do it the same all over again," Zeller said.
Some at Norton Healthcare call it the oldest-newest alternative method. "It's been shown not to change the fetal heart rate tracing and not cause any other complications of labor. So, it makes it a safe, viable option for someone who's looking for that type of pain relief," Dr. Nett said.
It's a way to give patients more options and fewer worries. "Our job is safety, and your job is experience. So, a patient can come to this hospital and decide what is my experience and how do I envision labor? We'll take care of safety, and we'll help you with the rest."
Nitrous oxide is part of a package deal with newer birth tools available for no additional cost, including a labor tub and showers, mobile monitors and birth balls.
Nitrous oxide is available at both Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Norton Hospital and Clark Memorial Hospital.
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