HONOLULU, Hawaii- Tripler Army Medical Center's labor and delivery unit introduced a new program utilizing nitrous oxide to decrease women's pain during the delivery process.

"We proudly rolled out our nitrous oxide program in October of this year after completing extensive training of our nurses, doctors, and midwives," said Alyse Fullum, a labor and delivery nurse.

Lt. Col. Lana Bernat, a TAMC nurse midwife said, "Nitrous oxide is a great option for pain management particularly for patients who are thinking about an unmedicated birth."

"It is a philosophy of the midwifery service, that we want to be able to provide the full spectrum of pain management options to patients," said Berant. "It allows you to relax and have a brief interruption from your contraction pain and one of the benefits is that the medicine doesn't go to the baby."

"Fortunately, it gives patients great control," said Fullum. "It makes you still aware of your contraction. It just dulls the pain and gives you more of a euphoric feeling."

"We have some patients that use it for every contraction and some patients that only use it just every second or third contraction. The control is completely in the patient's hands," said Bernat.

Miah Vanzant, experienced this feeling for herself while giving birth to her son Sven Vanzant in October. "Once I got that relaxed feeling, I was able to basically fall asleep during my rest periods of a minute and once the contractions started, I would take a couple deep breaths of the nitrous oxide and just go through the contraction. It was really calm," said Vanzant.

Nitrous oxide is commonly known as "laughing gas" and utilized in dental procedures. Labor and delivery change the ratio of the two gases, thereby decreasing the pain and not anesthetizing it.

"It does not take all of the pain away. It is not designed to. It is designed to make contractions or procedures tolerable while giving that patient access to more control and mobility," said Fullum.

"Everyone is able to request nitrous oxide. If a patient or labor process is screened and found to not be a good candidate for nitrous oxide, further evaluation is done and alternative methods of pain control can be utilized to create a safe and comfortable environment for mother and baby," said Fullum.

This program available to expecting mothers was initially started by TAMC certified nurse midwives, Lt. Col. Franchesca Desriviere and Capt. Celeste Chavez.

In addition to the nitrous oxide program, TAMC's labor and delivery unit began using new wireless fetal monitors in September.

"The new fetal monitors are a wireless system used to monitor the baby's heart rate and a woman's contractions during labor. The monitoring system is a great way to maximize a patient's desire to get up and out of bed, use a birthing ball, squat, or walk around the room," said Fullum.

"I really love the fetal monitor because there's not a lot of wires and with an unmedicated childbirth it's really important to be walking around and to get those contractions working," said Vanzant.

With the implementation of wireless fetal monitors and the nitrous oxide pain management program patients are presented with more options for their personal birthing experience.