Mothers in labor don’t often describe the experience as if they were “lying on a hammock on a sunny day,” but for one mom, that’s exactly how she felt using nitrous oxide while in labor with her first child at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center.
Lauren Lococo opted for the pain management tool, commonly called laughing gas, while preparing for the birth of her son. Here, she describes in her own words how laughing gas helped her through the experience.
I was preparing for the birth of my first child and like most mothers I wanted the best experience possible. I happen to be very interested in homeopathy and I felt strongly that I wanted to have some control over pain management during delivery. While conducting research about pain management, I read many articles and journals from Europe that fully promoted the use of laughing gas during labor and delivery. It appeared as if everyone in Europe was using it!
I knew I didn’t want to labor with too much pain. It was important to me to find a happy medium between labor and an epidural, and it appeared that laughing gas was the answer. I continued to research and came to the conclusion that this is what I wanted during my delivery!
To my dismay, I couldn’t find a single hospital in Houston or Greater Houston area offering it. I read about other hospitals in San Francisco and even on the East Coast that had it as an option, but there was nothing offered in Houston from what I could tell.
On June 20, I went into labor, and my husband and I rushed to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. As my nurse prepared me for labor, I mentioned casually how I wished there was another option for pain management instead of the immediate use of an epidural. To my surprise, she informed me that the hospital had just started offering the option and that it was the first in Houston to do so. She also mentioned that if I’d like to use it, I’d be the first patient to try it. I asked them to sign me up!
The nurse gave us full instructions about the safety and use of nitrous oxide. There was a tank with a mask that you held to breathe. It was placed on the side of my bed and I was the only one allowed to hold the mask to my face. I liked the fact that I was in control. I could choose to place it over my nose and mouth, and breathe in the gas, or I could remove the mask anytime I wanted. I felt comfortable that it was safe for me and my unborn baby.
With each contraction, I timed my breathing with the use of laughing gas. I was very relaxed with an analgesic, pleasant feeling …like relaxing on a hammock on a sunny day. I didn’t feel “loopy” or dizzy, and it calmed my anxiety.
During labor, I started to experience back labor, an intense pain in my lower back, due to my baby’s head pressing against my tailbone. Since my desire was to have a happy medium between labor and an epidural, I stopped using the laughing gas and I felt comfortable requesting an epidural. And even as the pain intensified, shortly after the epidural was administered, we proudly welcomed our beautiful son, Leo, into the world!
I love that Memorial Hermann The Woodlands has nitrous oxide as an option for mothers. I feel it helped my first experience as a new mom to be more relaxed and in control. When we decide to have a second child, I plan to use this option again!
Watch an educational video about the use of nitrous oxide:
Women’s Memorial Hermann at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center encourages patients to consult with their OB/Gyn to learn more about the use of nitrous oxide during labor and delivery.