Severe Weather Alerts

Laughing Gas New Option During Labor

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


DES MOINES, Iowa–A medication most commonly found in the dentist’s office is now showing up in delivery rooms.

Health Experts say nitrous oxide or laughing gas is becoming a more popular option for women during labor to help manage the pain.

It’s a gas that’s been around since the late 1700’s but recently nitrous oxide or laughing gas is showing up back in the delivery room.

“Nitrous oxide it`s not a newer option but it`s something that has gone out of practice in the United States, it was popular many years ago and kind of faded out as epidurals became more popular,” says Melanie Hermann with UnityPoint Des Moines.

Iowa Lutheran Hospital is one of two hospitals in the state offering the pain management technique, something new mom Michelle Carr ended up using while in labor with her son Nile.

“I kind of thought I would do it natural but the pain got a little bit too uncontrolled and when they told me about nitrous I said, ‘oh I`ll try it.’ It was a little less intervention and it worked really well,” says Michelle Carr of Mitchellville.

Carr said the non-invasive option appealed to her.

The gas is inhaled through a mask and is safe for both mom and baby.

“It`s self-administered so the patient can determine how much she wants and how frequently she wants it so they have that control, they`re also able to be up and mobile around the room which is another nice benefit as well,” says Hermann.

Carr liked being mobile throughout labor.

“I was surprised how much it worked, it really did take the pain, not away but it did distract you quite a bit. It`s nice that you can be on the couch, you can be on the birthing ball, you can be in the rocking chair and still be able to use it,” says Carr.

Nitrous oxide is also the most affordable pain management option a mother can choose besides having a natural birth.

“I think it`s a nice option for those patients that are wanting a little bit less intervention or not having that invasive procedure,” says Hermann.

It’s an option Carr says she’ll be recommending to other mothers to be.

“I think it works well it takes the edge off for a while. I think it would work well for people who aren`t sure if they want an epidural or aren`t quite ready to have the epidural yet,” says Carr.

Health officials at Iowa Lutheran say about 25 women have chosen the nitrous oxide method since the hospital started offering it in October.

They say mothers can always start with the laughing gas and move into a stronger pain management option like an epidural or IV.

1 Comment

  • Valerie Jensen

    Fantastic! So glad women are getting more options AND less invasive ones. Bravo to Iowa Lutheran! I’ve always had side effects from epidurals and have wanted this as a labor pain management option.

Comments are closed.