The Associated Press reports that laughing gas is coming back as an option for childbirth pain relief.
If, as this article says, nitrous doesn’t affect the baby, then it sounds like an good idea. If it doesn’t slow down labor, then it sounds like an excellent idea. I hope that question is investigated, because that would be a major decision factor for many women, I would think.
I’m glad that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ, one of my many editing clients) is looking at effectiveness and safety, because their reports are generally comprehensive and useful.
Hmm, I wish this article was available free. They say that epidurals don’t increase the rate of C-sections, but are associated with longer second-stage labor. I would think that the latter would lead to the former. I’d really like to see if this is a meta-analysis or a study or what.
(Kamy, if you’re reading, I apologize, but I laughed like a banshee when I read the abstract for this article, by a midwife, talking about epidurals like street drugs. Why do women take such powerful drugs during labor? That’s an easy question to answer! Because I went from 3 cm to 9 cm in 20 minutes and it was the most painful thing I’ve ever felt. And I’ve had a tooth extracted and a dental implant done with no anesthesia, so I know from pain.)
Once again, I have digressed. In any case, I think that if nitrous oxide proves safe and effective, I’m pleased. Anything that provides another option to women in labor, especially an option that doesn’t have the risks of epidurals, is a good thing for women and babies.
Pain relief during labor is another one of those topics that people seem to consider black and white, when it’s so obviously not. Some women have high pain tolerances and fast and easy labors. Some women have low pain tolerances (hi!) and slow and bad labors (hi again!). And most women are somewhere in between.
I’d like to see every woman given complete information about all her options, whether it’s an epidural or nitrous oxide or water birth or meditation. Let’s not pressure women in any direction, just give them the options and help find the one that will work best for them.
(I am not a good candidate for touchy feely water births, okay? Let’s just not even go there. But maybe something like nitrous would have helped me during Yael’s birth. And maybe, just maybe, I might have avoided the C-section.)
I’ll be keeping an eye out for the results of AHRQ’s study. Maybe nitrous will be available soon at a hospital near you.