Hospitals across the nation and right here in Montana are rolling out the red carpet for laboring mothers.
For 40 years Community Medical Center was the only maternity ward in Missoula, but that changed last year when St Patrick Hospital opened its own labor and delivery center.
Now both hospitals offer nitrous oxide to laboring mothers, further fueling the competition the latest amenities are bringing.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is quickly gaining popularity in the world of soon-to-be mothers. OB Staff Development Coordinator at Community Medical Center, Lara Porrini, says that in the two weeks they've been offering it, they've seen women who were really excited about having this option.
Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that when inhaled can lower pain and relieve anxiety during labor. It is completely patient controlled and is eliminated from the body in just a few minutes. This inhaled gas is making a comeback after being a popular pain relief option for women dating back to the 30's. It's delivered in lower dosages than it was in the past, but has all the same benefits for laboring mothers.
"It kind of went out of favor when regional anesthesia came about, so epidurals and spinals, but now more women are looking for options to get them through without regional anesthesia -- they can move, they can be upright, they can be in the tub, change position," says Lara Porrini.
As these hospitals compete which each other, they are now playing on the same field as hospitals in even larger cities.
With the addition of nitrous oxide to the pain management options, and with both hospitals offering room service, spas and lovely views, women can finally give birth in style.
Porrini says woman want to labor in a comfortable environment.
At CMC they offer their patients huge birthing tubs complete with jets and bubbles, birthing balls, aromatherapy with essential oils, and full course meals. All the rooms have paneling that can slide over to cover the monitors and there is a couch that folds down into a bed for expecting fathers.
Recently, CMC introduced family friendly c-section drapes allowing moms to see their baby being born. Porrini says it makes mom feel more a part of the birthing process.
St Pats' new facility was designed to make families feel at home as well. Their mothers can labor, deliver and recover in the same room, something CMC doesn't offer.
CMC has the most babies born in any hospital in the state, but St Pats is hoping their newer options will attract more patients over time.