FORT SMITH, Ark.. (KNWA/KFTA) — It is no secret that childbirth can be a painful and strenuous experience. For this, Baptist Health Hospital in Fort Smith, Ark. announced in a press release it is now offering nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” to women in labor to aid in the experience.

“It was a great way to take the edge off of your pain while still maintaining control and awareness,” said Jessica Staats of Poteau, Okla., who recently gave birth to her first child at Baptist Health and used the gas.

The release says Staats chose to take the option because it was “non-invasive” and “allowed her to control the dosage.”

Nitrous oxide effects every woman differently, but it is said to provide relaxation and coping with childbirth, according to the press release.

“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.”

Women who suffer from anxiety or want to move more freely during labor may benefit from the gas.

Baptist Health also says nitrous oxide has fewer side effects for both mothers and their children. They also say women can choose to stop taking the gas before the child’s birth and switch to another pain relief, such as an IV or an epidural.

“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.

For more information and Baptist Health-Fort Smith’s labor procedures, click here.