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Laughing gas during labor on the rise at local hospitals

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Posted at 3:00 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 06:58:09-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Ayla Kramer is getting used to life as a busy mom of four. The 28-year-old from Dunkirk gave birth to her son, Weston at Mercy Hospital on January 2.

"Weston was my biggest baby coming in at 7 lbs 2 oz and 20 inches," Kramer said.

For the first time, Kramer opted to use nitrous oxide, more commonly referred to as laughing gas, during labor. "I could still feel everything but it made me focus and get through the portion of I can't do this and just made me focus more on breathing."

A patient uses a mask to breathe in the Nitrous Oxide during a contraction, and once she feels relief, she can remove the mask from her face. It's 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen, meaning it's less potent during labor than it is in the the dentist office.

"The goal is to relieve pain not knock a patient out," explained Dr. Susan Littler, Chair of OBGYN at Mercy Hospital.

Mercy Hospital and Oishei Children's Hospital are the only hospitals in western New York who currently offer NO.

"I'd say it gets requested one to two times per week," Littler said. She believes more patients are requesting it as word spreads about its benefits. "It's a non narcotic. It's not a needle in your back. And, you don't have to scream. So, it gives them an alternative for pain management."

Oishei Children's Hospital is also seeing an increase in requests among patients. "It was the number one request we had when we gave our tours," said Labor and Delivery Nurse Manager, Caroline Novotny-Schulesand.

In Ayla Kramer's case, she'd never heard of using laughing gas during labor before her nurse made the recommendation. But she's glad she did. Her recovery time was shorter compared to when she used an epidural in the past.

"Once he was born I didn't feel drugged up. I felt fine," she said. "It was really bizarre but I would do it again," she concluded.