AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hospitals across Austin are re-introducing nitrous oxide as a tool to help expectant mothers through labor. 

KXAN spoke with the first patient to receive the treatment at St. David’s Medical Center and shows us the benefits for both the mother and child. 

For Katy Reid, being a mom is a full time job. “Motherhood has been incredible, its been the best thing thats happened to me,” said Reid who delivered two babies with nitrous oxide. 

But she’ll admit, it couldn’t be done without a little help. “I honestly felt relieved that there was something.” 

When delivering her 2-year-old Niamh and 6-week-old Nolan, Reid rolled out the nitrous oxide to help her get through the pain. “I had gone in hoping that maybe I could do a natural delivery and then about 24 hours into that induction I was begging for something. So to know that I had an option was a huge, huge relief.”  

“It’s becoming more popular now because women want natural childbirth and this is an option instead of heavy intervention and opioids,” said Heather Satterfield, a certified nurse midwife at St. David’s Medical Center. 

Nitrous oxide is the newest addition at St. David’s Medical Center. 

Satterfield said other options like epidurals and IV sedations contain opioids and can be exposed to the newborn. But breathing in nitrous oxide can help women cope with the pain without harming the baby. 

“This would be a preliminary option if you think you want natural birth, this might be something to help you cope and then you can always choose to have one of those other options down the road,” Satterfield said. 

While it won’t take away all the pain, nitrous oxide helps get through the tough parts to the great joy that lies ahead. 

“It made the entire induction process much more bearable for my personal pain threshold, but i still got to experience the pain and what it was like to deliver a child as close to natural as I was willing to go,” Reid said. 

History of medication during childbirth 

We wanted to take a look at the history of pain relief during child birth. 

At the start of the 1900’s “Twilight Sleep” became the most common way to give birth.  An injection consisting of Morphone and Scopolamine, a medication used to treat motion sickness and post surgery nausea, was given to the mother. Women would lose all awareness during childbirth, but the drugs would make them forget the event entirely.  

It wasn’t until the 50’s women decided to go unmedicated. Patterned breathing, water immersion and hypnosis was used during this time. Epidurals were finally introduced in the 70’s. 

Tonight on KXAN News at 10, Alex Caprariello spoke with the first mother to be administered nitrous oxide during childbirth at St. Davids Medical Center. She explains why she chose that option and offers advice to other mothers that are about to go into labor.