Northeast Georgia Medical Center First in the State to Offer Alternative Pain Relief During Labor

Published: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville is the first and only hospital in Georgia offering nitrous oxide (N2O) as a form of pain relief for laboring mothers.  Also known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is most commonly administered in a dental setting for procedures such as root canals or cavity fillings.

“When used in labor and delivery, N2O is a 50-50 mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen that women inhale through a mouthpiece,” said Heather Standard, manager of the Labor and Delivery unit at NGMC Gainesville.

“Yet unlike a dental office, where it’s administered continuously, the mother decides when and how often to use the medication.

“The patient breathes in the gas at the start of a contraction, timing it so they receive the most pain relief at the peak of the contraction.  The gas wears off within a few breaths after inhaling, so the effects end with the contraction.  This is an advantage over the narcotics, which can linger in the mom and newborn – making both sleepy and even affecting the baby’s ability to breastfeed.”

While it doesn’t provide the complete pain relief of an epidural, N2O can be a good option for mothers looking to “take the edge off” their intense contractions during the labor process. 

“We’ve found it to be a great coping mechanism for the pain, while still maintaining the feel and awareness of natural child birth,” Standard adds.

N2O is also a good option for mothers who arrive too late to receive the epidural, or those that can’t have one due to other medical issues, such as low platelets.

NGMC Braselton will be offering N2O, as well as other traditional pain relief options, for laboring mothers when the new Labor and Delivery unit opens on September 12.

For more information on Labor and Delivery services at NGMC, visit



Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) is rated Georgia’s #1 Hospital for the third consecutive year and among the top 10 in the nation by CareChex®, an independent healthcare quality rating service.  Together, NGMC Gainesville and NGMC Braselton share 657 beds and a medical staff of 600 physicians representing more than 50 specialties.