Soon-to-be moms using laughing gas to help with labor pains

Seton Medical Center Austin is offering a new type of pain management that could make it a little easier.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Any Mom knows when it comes to having a baby, childbirth is no walk in the park. But now Seton Medical Center Austin is offering a new type of pain management that could make it a little easier.

It's nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.

New mom Kathryn Kingsley says it helped her tremendously.

She arrived at the hospital two days ago with plans to do a natural birth.

"I wanted to be able to move around," she said. "I know when you get an epidural you're confined to the bed."

Her OB/GYN told her about nitrous oxide.

"I was just like well we'll see how it goes," Kingsley said. 

"It's all patient controlled," Seton Medical Center Austin OB/GYN Dr. Sally Grogono said. "So every time they have a contraction, they breathe the nitrous oxide. They can't overdo it. There are safety measures in place. "

According to the Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, during dental procedures, patients receive up to a 70/30 laughing gas to oxygen ratio. During labor, patients receive a 50/50 ratio, which is considered safe for both baby and mom.

Dr. Grogono said you can use nitrous oxide any time during pregnancy, but cannot combine it with IV pain medication or an epidural. However, if you do want an epidural you can use the laughing gas first, let it wear off and then get an epidural.

"It doesn't necessarily take pain away, but it makes the patient not care about the pain,"  Dr. Grogono said.

Right before the baby came, Kingsley decided she needed it.

"It was just really hard to control my breathing to control the contractions," Kingsley said.

Although she still felt pain, she said it helped her to relax. It's something she'd recommend to other mothers.

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