Mum says doctors denied her gas and air during traumatic labour
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: @leighmilnertv/ Instagram
A mum has spoken out after not being allowed gas and air while giving birth to her child.
On 1 February Leigh Milner gave birth to a baby boy at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, however, her experience in labour was not smooth sailing.
The Princess Alexandra Hospital is one of several hospitals in the UK which introduced a temporary ban on the use of gas and air during childbirth amid concerns over midwives and doctors being exposed to the gas long-term.
Leigh has since opened up about how the lack of gas and air affected her experience of labour and what pain relief she was offered instead.
Leigh - a journalist for the BBC - explained doctors said gas and air wouldn't be available during her labour as a result of the ban, but other pain relief would be.
The 33-year-old told the BBC: "I desperately needed something to take the edge off. My whole body was shaking. [...] The pain was so much that I was in and out of consciousness."
The pain relief Leigh was offered instead came as a shock to the mum.
The 33-year-old notes she wasn't able to have an epidural because of how quickly her labour progressed - having shown signs of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour), Leigh was induced into labour.
Leigh continues: "I kept begging for pain relief but the only thing they said they could give me was paracetamol.
"It felt like a Victorian birth and it shouldn't have. From start to finish, that day was an absolute mess."
Several NHS trusts in the UK decided to implement a temporary ban on gas and air over fears of the long-lasting damage being exposed to nitrous oxide could have on members of staff.
The BBC discovered between August 2018 and December 2022 the Health and Safety Executive recorded 11 nitrous oxide incidents in NHS trusts.
Some of the incidents saw the units of nitrous oxide reach 50 times over the NHS 'safe exposure' limit of 100ppm.
As a result of the impact the temporary ban is having on people giving birth, the Princess Alexandra Hospital has since fitted three temporary gas and air units.
However, one mum reported one of them wasn't working when she gave birth at the same facility on 13 February.
Giuseppe Labriola, director of midwifery and assistant chief nurse, told Tyla: "Following tests on the use of gas and air in our maternity unit, we made the decision to suspend the use of gas and air on a temporary basis (19 January). We have since put in place three temporary gas and air units and can now offer gas and air to women and birthing people. We also have permanent gas and air units being fitted soon.
"We also have a designated helpline in place for women and people who are due to give birth at PAHT to call with any queries they have."
A spokesperson from the NHS told Women's Health Magazine the NHS is now working closely with all trusts affected by the gas and air cut-offs.