Laughing Gas: An Alternative to Epidurals?

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There's been a lot of debate in the last several decades over epidurals versus natural births. Many first-time mothers find themselves stuck on the fence in this debate, unsure of which way they want to go. But did you know that many hospitals are now offering a third option? Laughing gas is now available in many delivery rooms, and we want to make sure you are informed on this potential alternative to epidurals.

How Does It Work?

Most people are familiar with laughing gas (or nitrous oxide, as it is technically called) as a type of sedative used in the dentist's office. It helps patients to relax while remaining conscious, making oral surgeries much easier.

For labor and delivery, laughing gas is self-administered by the mother, so you would only use the gas as much as you feel like you need it. However, it's important to note that nitrous oxide does not numb you from the pain of labor in any way. Rather, it simply relaxes you and makes it easier to cope with the pain.

Is It Safe?

Laughing gas has been used extensively in dental offices with very few negative side effects. The effects of the gas wear off quickly, so you don't have to worry about waiting for a numbing agent to wear off, as you would with an epidural.

Additionally, because you are not numb, you are able to more easily feel when you are pushing; many women complain that an epidural removes this sensation and makes delivery difficult. And, though more research in this area would be required, as of now, there have been no signs that nitrous oxide affects the child in any way.

 

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