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Dignity Health Woodland Memorial Hospital Offering Nitrous Oxide to Women in Labor

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The analgesic, known as "laughing gas," has grown in popularity as pain relief during childbirth

Dignity Health Woodland Memorial Hospital is offering another option for pain management to mothers in labor. The hospital is the first in Yolo County to provide nitrous oxide to women in childbirth. 

Layla Smith, who delivered her first two children naturally, decided to try nitrous oxide at the suggestion of her doula. “My first two kids were 10 pounds each and so I assumed this one would be a big baby,” said Smith. “I figured I am closer to being 40 years old now and needed something for the pain.”

Nitrous oxide is a gas that is widely used in dental offices where most people know of it as “laughing gas.” The gas that is used for labor pain is a mixture of 50 percent nitrous oxide and 50 percent oxygen that is inhaled through a mask. The patient holds the mask to her face and inhales the gas when needed. Many women choose nitrous oxide because it is self-administered, giving them more control over how much or how often they use it. 

“Women want more options when it comes to managing labor pain,” said Joahnna Padilla, MD, Chairman, OB/GYN at Woodland Memorial Hospital and OB/GYN at Dignity Health Medical Foundation, Woodland and Davis.  “Some women want an epidural. Others may want a natural childbirth. Nitrous oxide is an alternative that does not eliminate pain, but takes the edge off and can reduce anxiety in laboring moms.” 

Laughing gas was used in the mid-1800s for pain relief and women used it to ease the pain of labor in the early 20th century, but it became less popular when more powerful pain management became available for laboring mothers. Today it is widely used in Europe, Australia and Finland. An estimated 300 hospitals and birth centers use nitrous oxide in the U.S. 

Layla Smith was the first patient to use the nitrous oxide at Woodland Memorial Hospital. She inhaled the gas when she felt the beginning of a contraction.  She delivered her son, Josiah David Jahn, on September 13.  “This time I got to do it my way and I actually enjoyed the whole birth. I was calm. It was great.” 

Dignity Health Methodist Hospital of Sacramento also offers nitrous oxide to laboring mothers. 

Click here to read the story in the Daily Democrat from Oct. 6, 2017.


Publish date: 

Friday, October 06, 2017

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