Here’s a Labor Day question:
Why don’t women in the U.S. have access to nitrous oxide, a safe, inexpensive and fairly simple option for alleviating pain during labor, when women in almost all other developed countries use it widely?
A small band of midwives, doctors and mothers are trying to find out.
Sure, nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas, like you get in the dentist’s office) doesn’t have the super-pain-relieving magic of an epidural. Instead, it offers something closer to an elixir of dulled pain tempered by nonchalance, says William Camann, chief of obstetric anesthesia at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the co-author of the book “Easy Labor.” “The pain may still exist for some women but the gas may create a feeling of, ‘Painful contraction? Who cares?’”