Montgomery County hospital easing labor pains with laughing gas

EAST NORRITON, Pa. (WPVI) -- Women giving birth at a major suburban hospital will soon have a new option for dealing with labor pains.

This fall, Einstein Montgomery will be the latest to offer nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas.

It's a quick-acting inhalant more commonly associated with dental work in the US, but it's commonly used for labor around the world.

And the Einstein midwife leading the program says it's safe and effective.

"The 50/50 oxygen mixture produces a relaxed feeling. It doesn't eliminate all the pain, but it does lessen the anxiety," said Michelle Barcus. "It's patient controlled. So mom has control over her pain relief. If she doesn't like it, she can stop it."

The use of nitrous oxide is part of a larger effort to reduce Cesarean sections by better managing pain.

Einstein's C-section rate is 19%, well under the national rate, but they want to bring it down even more.

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