Baptist Health-Fort Smith, Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway Now Offering ‘Laughing Gas’ for Laboring Moms

Delivering Your Baby - Baptist Health Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.Childbirth can be a beautiful experience, but it’s no secret that it does come with some pain. Women who want to labor with minimal interventions and choose to deliver at Baptist Health-Fort Smith and Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway now have the option of using nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas,” for pain management.

The effects of nitrous oxide are different for every woman, but it is said to allow you to relax and cope with labor. Nitrous oxide used for labor discomfort is a mixture of 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen. It is inhaled through a hand-held mask and self-administered, allowing mom to use it as needed with each contraction. The gas slows the nervous system, which makes you feel less inhibited. It also can create a sense of well-being or euphoria.

Jessica Staats, 32, of Poteau, Okla., used nitrous oxide to deliver her first child at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. She chose this option because it was non-invasive and allowed her to control the dosage.

“It was a great way to take the edge off of your pain while still maintaining control and awareness,” she said.

Abigail Davies, 25, of Ward, knew she wanted her first birthing experience to be as natural as possible. The effects of nitrous oxide are different for every woman, but it is said to allow you to relax and cope with labor.

“I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park and I didn’t want an epidural,” said Davies.  “It will take the edge off and let you power through. I was totally with it the whole time and could push. It really helped with the anxiety of being in labor.”

Starting to inhale before a contraction allows the pain relief to occur when the contraction reaches its peak, providing the greatest relief. It may be beneficial for women who are prone to anxiety or want the ability to move more freely during labor.

It is also less invasive than an epidural and has fewer side effects for both mother and baby. With nitrous oxide, you can safely breastfeed after delivery without concern of passing IV medications to your baby.

“We find this to be a good option for women who, for whatever reason, prefer not to have an epidural or use narcotic pain medication, or if it is too early or late in the labor process for an epidural, the gas can be used,” said Dr. Mark Fowler of Baptist Health Women’s Clinic-Fort Smith.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to offer nitrous oxide as an option for our patients,” said Dr. Audrey Tobey of Baptist Health Women’s Clinic-Conway. “It puts mothers back in control of their birthing story — allowing them to marry breathing techniques and free movement with patient-directed, self-administered nitrous use without altering the normal physiology and progress of labor.”

With nitrous oxide, you can choose to stop before your infant’s delivery and instead use another form of pain relief such as IV narcotics or an epidural. However, nitrous oxide cannot be used in conjunction with other forms of pain management.

In addition to traditional forms of pain management for labor, Baptist Health labor and delivery teams can also help you with various massage and stretching techniques with the use of birthing peanuts and balls, which are similar to yoga balls.

For more information about pregnancy and childbirth at a Baptist Health hospital, visit


About Baptist Health

For 100 years, Baptist Health has delivered All Our Best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.