Small Talk

A laughing matter

February 23rd, 2011

Ladies, if you could have laughing gas as a painkiller during childbirth, would you? Some recent articles talk about nitrous oxide making a comeback in the obstetrics ward:

It's common in Canada and Great Britian, but not America. Yet. Americans get epidurals which are shot into the spinal cord. Nitrous oxide takes the edge off pain, but doesn't eliminate it. It is a gas, so it's easier to administer.

When I was delivering, I wanted to go drug-free. I was scared by the thought of something being injected into my spinal cord. However, I could not withstand the pain after five hours. Ground down by the spasms, I finally asked for an epidural, before it was too late.

I laid on my side while the doctor inserted the needle in my spine. He warned me that I might feel a cold rush down my leg, and he was right. It went all the way to my toe, and I had minor nerve damage for about six weeks in that toe. I couldn't feel anything. The ground felt weird, as if I had a piece of plastic over just that toe. Eventually, the feeling came back.

Even though the laughing gas doesn't promise to take away the pain, I'd still try it. That's because the epidural didn't fully take it away, either. It left what the nurses called a "window" of pain - a three by three inch area on my stomach that got the full brunt of the contraction pain.

What's your take on laughing gas in the delivery room, and/ or your birth story?


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