Missoula's St. Patrick Hospital's Maternity Center now offers another option for pain management during labor.

Women's Health Director Kathy Schaefer said the new option is a well-known treatment called nitrous oxide.

"As of today, we are now offering another option for moms for pain management during the labor process," Schaefer said. "Nitrous Oxide is a gas that can be self-administered during the labor process. It's yet another option for pain control."

Nitrous oxide, once called 'laughing gas', was widely used by dentists as well as labor and delivery for many years.

"Use of nitrous oxide fell out of favor with some of the new medications that came out for labor and, of course, epidural use, and it has now seen a bit of a resurgence, however, it's been used in Europe. The beauty of nitrous oxide is that it's a colorless, odorless gas  that's a 50-50 blend of oxygen and nitrous oxide and the mom can self administer through a mask, and the beauty of it is the gas leaves the system rather quickly."

Schaefer said the mother in labor now has another choice for pain management at St. Patrick Hospital.

""Now they can choose conventional pain medication, nitrous oxide or an epidural," she said. "We've just added one more choice for mom. In addition, St. Pat's now has two midwives that are practicing here. While there are licensed midwives in town, presently our midwives are the only ones that are affiliated with the hospital."

The St. Patrick Hospital Maternity Center opened last August.