Virginia hospital now offering ‘laughing gas’ for mothers in labor

Health Alert

One of the biggest fears many pregnant moms have is the pain of childbirth.

One Virginia hospital is offering another way to deal with it in a way that won’t affect the baby. It’s the same thing that makes patients relax at the dentist — nitrous oxide.

Laughing gas, as it is sometimes called, changed childbirth for Alisha Jackson, who recently had her second son at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.

“With him, it was an experience — it was actually fun,” Jackson giggled while recounting the experience to WAVY-TV. “I didn’t feel the contractions I didn’t feel the pain so I was like, ‘Ok, I like this’.”

The medication is delivered via a mask that the mom controls.

Labor and Delivery Nurse Manager Shannon Roberts explained, “So when the contraction starts, she’ll start taking in a deep breath. She breathes in and out through the mask. When she’s done with the contraction, she puts the mask down she feels the effects of it.”

Roberts added nitrous oxide does not affect the baby or breastfeeding, which certified Nurse Midwife Lauren Jordan really likes.

“Nitrous is something that I’m so super excited about. It’s huge in Europe, Sweden, Australia, Canada. It’s very big on the West Coast,” Jordan said.

Chesapeake Regional is the first public hospital to offer it in Hampton Roads. 

“It’s not a pain-free option but it gives a mom — she doesn’t care as much about the contractions,” Roberts said.

IV medications can offer a similar kind of relief but — but with those options, the mom is tied to a bed and she and her baby may feel drugged and groggy. With nitrous, once the mom takes off the mask –and after taking a few breaths, she’s back to her normal self.

There can be side effects. Some women feel a bit dizzy or nauseated, and some do go on to get an epidural. However, a few deep breaths of nitrous was all Jackson needed to bring her new baby into the world. 

“The only thing I felt was him coming out,” she said. “If I had another baby I would definitely use it.”  

Portsmouth Naval Medical Center also offers nitrous to moms during labor and delivery.

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