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Laugh Your Way Through Labor at Ukiah Valley Medical Center’s Family Birth Center


UKIAH, CA  ¬--  Childbirth is no laughing matter, or is it!? Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) joins a growing number of health care facilities to offer nitrous oxide, often referred to as laughing gas, to women in labor at the Family Birth Center.  Nitrous oxide is a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen gases.  It is a noninvasive analgesic that reduces anxiety and pain, can be used late in labor and is self-administered, thus giving the laboring mom the ability to control her pain when she needs it. Nitrous oxide takes effect in seconds, doesn’t inhibit labor contractions, and has little side effects for mother or baby.

Mendocino Community Health Clinic Obstetrician and Gynecologist Karen Crabtree, M.D., medical director of Care for Her, championed the use of nitrous oxide.  As she explains, “Nitrous oxide has a long history of success in other countries with very successful outcomes. Since FDA approval, we’ve been preparing for the launch which has included manufacturing of special equipment and training of nurses and staff.  UVMC is one of the few hospitals in Northern California to offer nitrous oxide.  As a small hospital, it is very cutting edge to have this option available.”

Casey Ford, Director of Perinatal Services at UVMC, explains the reason for adding nitrous oxide as an option for women in labor, “Adding nitrous oxide gives women another choice in an area where there are few options.  Many women want to avoid the interventions that prevent them from getting out of bed to use the Jacuzzi, shower, or just walk around.  With laughing gas it is never too early or too late to take the edge off of the pain, and it can be initiated in minutes!”

Nitrous oxide has been in use at UVMC since the beginning of December.  Approximately 20 women have used it.  Agnes Calumpang, a registered nurse at the Family Birth Center shared, “I offered it to my patient, a first time mom, and she loved it.  She started it at 3 centimeters and used it to 7 centimeters.  She was very happy with the results and liked the fact that she was in control.”

Birth centers around the country are beginning to show more interest in nitrous oxide as an option for women in labor. However, UVMC is the only facility North of San Francisco, and South of Portland, OR to offer nitrous oxide as a pain management option for mothers to be. Given all of its benefits, nitrous oxide truly provides expectant mothers with an opportunity to laugh while in labor.

The Family Birth Center offers a state-of-the art facility, with large private birthing suites and a Special Care Nursery. The Center also offers educational and support classes for expectant moms and caregivers. The Family Birth Center is located at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, 275 Hospital Drive in Ukiah. For more information about classes, please call 707-463-7550 or visit us online at

--  UVMC  --
Ukiah Valley Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,600 includes more than 20,500 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,600 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist health values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 220 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. We invite you to visit  for more information.