Laughing gas benefits during labor

Laughing gas offers new alternative for women in labor

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - While a new baby brings lots of smiles to mom a local hospital is taking that up a notch with the addition of 'laughing gas' as an option for childbirth pain. You can say it's a whole new option bringing whole lot of happy to the birthing center at Lake Health's West Medical Center in Willoughby.

"This is our Nitronics machine and basically it's a 50/50 blend of oxygen and nitrous oxide," explains the nurse manager in the department, Jennifer DiGeronimo, R.N.

It's a much less concentrated form or laughing gas than you'd get in a dentist's office she explains, and an option they started offering to women during labor just a couple months ago.

"I was on board, I was excited, yeah," says Lesley Loveland of Euclid who used it during the birth of her baby girl, Jodi, in early March. She gives it a big thumbs up. "I felt physically tingling sensation from my head to my toes...then and a slight euphoric feeling in my head to make me relax and feel less anxious."

Which DiGeronimo says is exactly what it's supposed to do, used in conjunction with the epidural -- up to several hours before the injection.

"It's patient controlled," she explains, "she can take a breath as often or as little as she would like, it's really tailored to meet her needs and we would like her to take it optimally as she's feeling a contraction."

She explains it's just part of their objective to offer women in labor as many options as possible.

Lesley adds there's even more benefit, "I thought it was useful also because it gave me something tangible to do while I was in pain and all the discomfort.."

Lesley kept herself busy with it for about two hours before it was epidural time getting additional comfort by knowing the effect wears off in a matter of a minute or so. It's said to not be like the "laughing gas" you'd get at the dentist's office at all as far as having lasting side effects.

Nitrous oxide is being used for childbirth at about a hundred hospitals nationwide, including Lake Health West, only three here in Ohio. But, we're told it's been used in Europe for years, very popular there and was also used in the U.S. decades before the epidural caught on. Now, the idea of using the two together is expected to catch on to many more hospitals nationwide quickly.

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