I saw this on the news last night, laughing gas is starting to be used as an option for pain management during labor.
When I was pregnant, I was very determined to have a drug-free labor, I wanted to go all the way and I did all the research I needed to ensure I was equipped to go all the way. I went for Lamaze classes where we were encouraged to labor as much as possible at home so as to reduce the temptation of getting an epidural, which I did, I stayed home as long as I possibly could and I even had a nice long shower to relieve the pain.
When I got to the hospital I was deep in thrones of labor, it was such a struggle to get out of the car and I actually needed a wheelchair to wheel me in to the hospital. My hope was I would go in, get checked by the doctor, who would then determine it was too late for an epidural and I would soon be pushing.
When I was finally admitted and checked, the doctor was so excited to confirm I was in active labor and 5cm dilated, to him and the nurses that was huge progress but to me I was in so much pain I thought I would be closer to 10. Needless to say it only got worse and at 8cm I got an epidural.
The process of getting an epidural during active labor was a terrible experience for me. When the anesthesia finally came in, he had so many questions for me that I could barely comprehend while in all that pain, he then asked me to sit up, open my mouth, I don’t know what he was checking. Then they asked me to bring my legs up on the bed and cross them, I was also instructed to hug a pillow and arch my back. All this while in excruciating pain, but I hang in there and did it because I knew I was about to get relief.
Which I really did, once the epidural started working, I was on cloud 9, I kept asking who invented this, because I need to thank them personally. I was making calls, and talking and laughing. I could not feel my lower body at all, and it was perfect. After all the pain this was the best feeling in the world.
When it came to time for pushing, the nurse had to tell me it was time, they had to tell me when I was having a contraction so I could push. I couldn’t feel a thing, they had to check the graph to tell me what my body was doing. When the baby finally came out, they had to tell me. I didn’t feel a thing, I heard the baby cry and I was surprised, a little bit later I could see a reflection on the doctors eye glasses of what I think was placenta. The numbness was over in an hour or two and my mind was telling me it had been several hours since I peed, so I kept telling the nurse I think I need to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t feeling the urge just knowing I hadn’t gone for some hours and thinking I should probably go, she told me after delivering the baby the doctor emptied my bladder. I was surprised, because I was numb I didn’t feel anything that was being done to me.
Just like with everything, the epidural has its pro’s and con’s, it took the pain away which was the greatest relief one can imagine. But the greatest thing I feel the epidural took away from me, was that instant connection that a mother feels after the baby is born. When you deliver a baby, the hormone oxytocin is released
Oxytocin, often referred to as the “Love Hormone,” is a hormone that is produced in the brain and release into the bloodstream during labor causing the uterus to contract. The release of oxytocin creates feelings of contentment, reduces anxiety and increases feelings of security and calm.
Naturally, due to these factors, there is much evidence that the Love Hormone is important to mother-baby bonding as it enables an increase trust and decrease in fear.
This I would say is the number one thing that the epidural robbed me off, that instant connection.
Epidurals reduce oxytocin production or keep it from rising during labor. They also blunt the oxytocin peak that would otherwise occur at the time of birth because the stretching receptors of a woman’s lower vagina are numbed.
Therefore, if there is an option like laughing gas, that can be administered with minimal interruption, as you just inhale it. Which can be used during the late stages of labor and can maintain all the hormones required. I would be all for it. I do hope this can be an actual viable option. I believe going natural would be the best option, however in my experience, its not always that easy to do.