Every woman knows, whether she’s a mother or not, that childbirth is probably the most painful experience we’ll ever have. One could say that being in labor is no laughing matter — until now: A Minnesota birthing center is now offering laughing gas to relieve pain during childbirth. It’s a method that’s been commonly used by women in other countries for decades, but hospitals in the U.S. have widely shunned laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, as a pain reliever during childbirth. Perhaps it’s because breathing in nitrous oxide conjures up images of teens in the parking lot — but according to many medical experts, it’s time for the U.S. to give laughing gas serious consideration.
The use of nitrous oxide for women in labor has been making a slow comeback in the U.S., and the latest facility to offer it is the Minnesota Birth Center in Minneapolis. Kerry Dixon, a midwife at the birthing center who used to administer laughing gas to laboring moms in New Zealand, vouches for the pain-relief method, saying that it poses less health risks than other methods like the epidural, or spinal anesthesia. With nitrous oxide, which the mom administers herself, she can remain independent and in control.