Now You Can Laugh Your Way Through Labor Thanks To A Nitrous Oxide Comeback
Okay, perhaps that’s a bit far-fetched. I sincerely doubt anyone would catch a case of the giggles during labor and delivery, but the fact that nitrous oxide is making a comeback into delivery rooms across America is really something to talk about, in my opinion. It’s about time America catches up with the rest of the world by giving women more options when it comes to their bodies, and this is one small step in that direction. (The next step is paid maternity leave for a year, like our Norwegian friends.)
Nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas’, was commonly used in delivery rooms in the United States until the 1930s, according to midwife Kerry Dixon. She says it was then was replaced by epidurals, which are fairly profitable as they cost a shitload of money. A little laughing gas can cost patients approximately $100, where epidurals are upwards of $3,000. Yiiiiikes. That’s a big difference. Obviously, an epidural is a full-on physical numbing of your lower extremities, and laughing gas is not. But it still sounds like it’s a really beneficial option, and the more options women are able to have when it comes to labor, delivery, and their bodies is a good thing.
One mom, Shauna Zurawski, told ABC News:
“I instantly felt relaxed. Before, I was so tense. I was fighting against the contractions, which definitely wasn’t good. But after the laughing gas, my body was able to do what it was supposed to. It was so neat. With my first child, I had an epidural, I was numb for so long after the delivery and it took a while to get back to normal. But with the nitrous oxide, I was walking around and taking pictures almost right after.”
Another great thing about this option is that you can totally opt out of it, too. Patients have total control over how much is administered, and can also choose to stop or get an epidural at any time if they find they don’t want the laughing gas. Sounds like a win-win, if you ask me. Dr. William Camann, director of obstetric anesthetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says nitrous oxide is a “relatively mild pain reliever that causes immediate feelings of relaxation and helps relieve anxiety.”
Personally, I know half my battle with pain/life’s trials and triumphs rest on whether I’m going to psych myself into something our out of something. So if this relieves anxiety and can potentially put you in a really healthy mental state during labor, sign me right up.