Laughing Gas is No Laughing Matter for Moms in Labor

Oct 7, 2019

Nacogdoches Medical Center Offers New Option for Pain During Childbirth 

Parents, baby and nurseHow to manage pain during childbirth is a personal choice for women. Nacogdoches Medical Center (NMC) is now offering patients another option for pain management during delivery – the use of Nitrous Oxide. The gas is widely used by dentists, and is commonly referred to as “laughing gas”. It’s a mixture of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen that is inhaled through a mask. Administration of nitrous oxide during delivery offers many women pain relief and can reduce anxiety, which also aids in coping with pain. 

New mom Mackenzie Wenger chose to use nitrous oxide for her pain management during the birth of her daughter Sadie at NMC on July 30. “I wanted to go as natural as possible, and the nitrous oxide allowed me to do that,” said Wenger. “My background is in exercise science so I’m always amazed at what the body can do, so I wanted to let my body do its thing naturally.” 

Mackenzie did not have a typical delivery. Her labor was fast. Very fast. Mackenzie had what her midwife Cheryl Scalora, CNM, describes as the most intense delivery in her 20-year experience. “From her first contractions to delivery, Mackenzie had Sadie in just over two hours,” said Scalora. “When she got to the hospital, she dilated four centimeters in 30 minutes. It was the fastest labor I have ever seen. Being able to offer Mackenzie the nitrous oxide was a blessing.” 

The nitrous oxide helped Mackenzie avoid having an epidural and allowed her to have the birth experience she wanted. “Five more minutes and I would have been screaming for an epidural,” says Mackenzie with a smile in her voice. “I was about to panic but as soon as I started using the nitrous I immediately felt back in control. I could tell that I was in pain but I just didn’t care. I didn’t fight the contractions and let my body work. I was able to push like I needed to because I was in full function of my muscles. I could move into positions to help facilitate the delivery, and after Sadie was here I was able to take off the mask and the gas was immediately out of my system so I wasn’t loopy. It was the best experience possible for my first baby.” 

Sadie is doing great. She recently celebrated her 3rd week birthday with mom and dad, Dan Wenger. 

The option to use nitrous oxide is available to all women who deliver at NMC whether they choose to labor with a midwife or OBGyn. The gas is self-administered. Women hold the mask to their face themselves, breathing the amount of gas they need to help control their pain. To facilitate the best results, the gas is inhaled about thirty seconds before a contraction begins, which helps to reach its peak effectiveness at about the same time as the contraction reaches its peak and providing the greatest relief. 

“Each patient has a different experience when using nitrous oxide,” according to Jamie Lee, Director of Women’s Services for Nacogdoches Medical Center. “Women who choose to use it say it takes the edge off of the contractions. They like the fact that it gives them greater control during delivery, that it doesn’t interfere with labor, their ability to push, or with breastfeeding their baby after delivery. And another benefit, the gas is cleared from the body through the lungs so it is not passed on to the baby during labor. It is safe for both baby and mom.” 

For more information on the use of Nitrous Oxide during delivery, go to or call (800) 545-6164. 

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