The pain relieving gas Entonox was introduced in Kollam in 2011.

Can childbirth be painless Hospitals in Kerala offer a new option
news Health Sunday, October 09, 2016 - 14:16

It was in 2011 that the Punalur Government Hospital in Kollam, first introduced the concept of ‘painless’ childbirth in Kerala.

The Thiruvalla Taluk Hospital in Pathanamthitta has now decided to introduce the same, starting from October 15.

In this process, a gas named Entonox - which is a mixture of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen - has to inhaled by the mother. After inhalation, even though the expecting mother will be in a semi-sedated state, she will be aware of all that is going on around her. She can also chip in with her own suggestions for an easy delivery.

Doctors claim that there are no side effects to the process and that it enables the mother to go in for a relaxed ‘delivery’ process, where the whole experience turns out to be of a pleasant nature, rather than a stressful one.

“Since 2011, we have had 1500 painless deliveries. Though it is said that the gas can only reduce the pain by about 45-75%, we have noticed that in many cases, mothers were able to deliver with hardly any pain at all. We also keep a post-delivery tab on our patients, and we can assure you that the said procedure causes no side-effects or after-effects whatsoever,” says Dr Shahir Shah, Medical Superintendent of the Punalur Government Hospital, while speaking to The News Minute.

He added that there are whole chapters dedicated to this procedure in books on modern medicine, yet none has dared to actually put it into practice in India: “It is being practised in many countries for the last many decades. But in India, we rarely opt for the same. The use of anaesthesia during a Caesarian birth usually comes with a lot of negative implications, since contractions and pushing do not happen. But here, plenty of oxygen is provided. Abroad, the gas is inhaled by the mothers themselves before delivery, but in India, the gynaecologists assist them.”

“Punalur is a success story that has encouraged us. We were convinced of this, when we went on a visit there. It could very well usher in a revolution, in terms of painless deliveries. We hence decided to use the method in Thiruvalla too. Since there are no side-effects, the mother will be under no pressure, which in turn will have a positive effect on the baby too. This does not interfere with the contractions of the uterus, thereby allowing the mother to effortlessly push and ensure an easy and ‘speedy’ delivery,” Dr Joseph Alphose, Thiruvalla Taluk Hospital Medical Superintendent, opines.

Social implications

“Our main aim is to reduce the demand for C-sections by mothers - especially the modern generation - who fear the birthing pangs. Caesareans do not bode well for the mother and child in the long run, and this particular procedure using Entonox gas is definitely a healthy alternative,” claims Dr Shahir.

Dr Joseph says that the pressure, strain and tension that the mother goes through during delivery can adversely affect the mental health of both the mother and child. Expectant mothers are made to take part in a special awareness class about this ‘painless’ procedure before the delivery. He says, “We go for it, only after they have consented to being subject to the same in writing.”

Why is it not being used widely?

“A single cylinder of Entonox gas - which is produced by a company in Chennai - costs around Rs 1500. It can be used for 2-3 patients depending on their individual requirements. The delivery charges hardly come to Rs 2000. We charge only Rs 800. A Caesarean delivery on the other hand costs around Rs 40,000. What would the majority of private hospitals prefer in this case?” smiles Dr Shahir Shah.


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