Having a baby hurts. This is one of the most well-known facts of humanity, yet only those who have given birth will know exactly what it means. To mitigate the pain, Deaconess Hospital in Spokane became the first hospital in its region — and one of the few in Washington State — to offer Nitrous Oxide (“laughing gas”) to expectant mothers in labor.
Nitrous oxide – which has been offered across the United States for more than 30 years – presents immediate pain relief and lowers anxiety within 30-60 seconds. The gas is self-administered by the patient under the watchful eye of specially trained labor and delivery nurses.
Patients remain awake and alert, with full use of their motor and sensory functions. The gas is tasteless, colorless and odorless, and it enters and leaves the body through the lungs so as not to accumulate in the mother’s body. Many studies have shown that the use of Nitrous Oxide has no harmful effects on the baby, and an estimated 40-60 percent of expectant mothers in the United Kingdom and Europe use the gas for pain management during labor.
“We are proud to be the first hospital in the area to offer this service,” Deaconess’ OB Services Director Dr. Lori Smetana said. “Our primary goal is to support our patients. Nitrous oxide presents a safe and effective means to make our patients as comfortable as possible while offering them another form of pain management.”