Pictured are Ashley Booth, her newborn baby, and her significant other, Troy Brady.

Special to Iredell Free News

When Ashley Booth delivered her baby in February, she became Iredell Memorial Hospital’s first patient to use nitrous oxide for pain relief.

Intravenous (IV) medicine was deemed too risky during Booth’s labor at Iredell Memorial’s The Birth Place. And since Booth didn’t want to use epidural anesthesia, nitrous oxide was a safe alternative. Though experiencing numerous contractions, she felt its positive effects.

“When they started the nitrous, it was more bearable. It took my mind off everything,” Booth said. “It kept me relaxed and gave me some relief. I would definitely recommend it.”

Nitrous oxide is a gas that can be used to alleviate labor pain. The mother inhales the nitrous through a mask she holds over her nose and mouth. Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous provides minimal sedation and has long been used in dental offices and for minor procedures.

About 10 patients at The Birth Place have used nitrous oxide during labor, each with positive results, according to the hospital.

“We wanted to be able to offer this service to patients as an additional pain management option as well as IV pain medication and epidural anesthesia,” said Sharon Johnson, The Birth Place director. “The mother benefits if she wants something to just take the edge off her contractions.”

Without affecting the baby, nitrous oxide quickly takes effect after being administered and is out of the mother’s system three to five minutes after inhaling it. Some patients report feeling that their limbs are heavy or that they are floating above the bed. Some experience nausea or dizziness, but taking a few breaths of air quickly eliminates these effects.

“Using the nitrous oxide is not intended to take the place of other pain management options,” Johnson said. “Minutes after the patient stops using the nitrous, they can have IV meds or an epidural if they desire. We are simply offering this as another option for patients who would like to use it.”

Booth appreciated The Birth Place nurses that cared for her.

“They were all amazing,” she said. “They were very nice and reassuring and had very good bedside manners. They helped me relax. It was a nice experience.”

The Birth Place is also offering hydrotherapy for patients who would like to experience laboring in a pool of warm water.

To learn more, call The Birth Place Program Office at 704-878-4555.

About Iredell Health System

Iredell Health System includes Iredell Memorial Hospital; Iredell Home Health; Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center; Community and Corporate Wellness; Occupational Medicine; the Iredell Physician Network and more. Iredell Memorial Hospital is the largest and only nonprofit hospital in Iredell County. The comprehensive healthcare facility has 247 beds; more than 1,700 employees; and has 260 physicians representing various specialties. Centers of excellence include Women’s and Children’s; Cardiovascular; Cancer; Surgical Services and Wellness & Prevention. The mission of Iredell Health System is to inspire wellbeing. For a comprehensive list of services and programs, visit www.iredellhealth.org

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