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Pregnant Swedes in labour gas ban outrage

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Pregnant Swedes in labour gas ban outrage
13:23 CET+01:00
Use of laughing gas during labour may soon be no more than a memory for women giving birth in Sweden. Gävleborg hospital, in northeastern Sweden, is first to cut off the use of nitrous oxide as pain relief.

"It feels like a slap in the face," said pregnant Lina Forslund to newspaper Aftonbladet.

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is to be phased out, hopefully by 2014, because of its damaging effect on the environment and on the hospital's staff and patients.

"Research has shown that patients with a shortage of vitamin B can suffer lasting neurological damage from nitrous oxide. It's also a question of our work environment. Laughing gas causes documented higher frequencies of miscarriage and deformities," Ingegerd Lantz, head of Gävleborg's gynaecological section, explained to Aftonbladet.

"It's also about the environment around us. Nitrous oxide remains in our atmosphere for 150 years before being broken down," she continued.

Pregnant Lina Forslund told the paper that she understands the hospital's reason for discontinuing their use of nitrous oxide.

"But I'm selfish. I don't want to be in pain giving birth," she said to Aftonbladet.

Ingegerd Lantz recommends other methods of pain relief, among them epidural anaesthesia and relaxation exercises.

Lina Forslund is unconvinced, however.

"I feel insecure. I've used laughing gas for my two previous births, since that was the only thing there was time for. Laughing gas is what you can control. I don't want to give birth without it, it's wonderful and I really don't want to be without it."

"But if that's how it's going to be, I'll have to live with it. I guess I'll have to bring along a schnaps instead," she added.

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