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Does oxygen relieve labor pains?
Q: I'm 29 weeks pregnant and very hesitant about using drugs during labor. I believe labor is the first traumatic experience for a baby and the mother should be there 100%, both physically and mentally, for her baby. I already had a "natural" delivery (I was induced with Pitocin® at 42 weeks gestation), and got little medication (anesthesia for the episiotomy), so I know I can go through the procedure again.

However, I snapped once my water broke and started yelling and hitting everything around me, so I'm concerned about my reactions during my upcoming labor. I have been curious about this rave of "Oxygen Bars" and wonder if oxygen would be a good option for pain relief during the second stage of labor.
A: Dear Paula,

I must admit your question stumped me at first. After spending some time researching the subject I can give you an answer. There is no scientific evidence that inhaling oxygen will reduce labor pain at all. I have given oxygen supplements to many laboring women to help their baby. I have never seen any change in a woman's perception of pain after breathing in oxygen.

I am saddened to hear about your last labor. It sounds as if you went through a difficult time. You may not have realized your own goals due to your pain. You should consider alternate strategies to prepare for your next delivery. You might want to take a Lamaze refresher course to help you develop strategies to deal with your labor discomfort. Some patients utilize a doula to help them deal with labor. Alternatively, you may consider an epidural. You will still be 100% mentally involved, minus the pain. You will be there physically, appreciating the sensation of your baby descending in the birth canal and you can push that bundle of joy out into the world … minus the intense pain.

I suspect you will make it through your next delivery just fine. The second delivery generally goes faster and if you are lucky, you won't be induced this time. Talk with your practitioner about ways to help deal with labor pain.

Craig L. Bissinger M.D.