A Newcastle mum-of-two has become the first person in the UK to use climate-friendly pain relief during labour.
Kaja Gersinska gave birth to Rosie Martha O’Sullivan, who weighed 6lb 6oz, at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. She was given Entonox, also known as gas and air, a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen used to provide pain relief for women in labour for over a hundred years.
However, nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, almost 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and escapes into the atmosphere after being exhaled by a patient.
But Kaja breathed the gas and air into a Mobile Destruction Unit (MDU) – a machine designed to collect and destroy residual nitrous oxide from exhaled gas and air.
She said: “I feel very privileged and proud actually – it’s the little things you don’t often think about and it’s nice that someone thought about making these changes which will be better for the environment and for midwives who are working here all the time.
“I didn’t expect this when I came here today – I just came to have my baby – but I started on the traditional machine and then swapped over.
“It was quieter and much more comfortable to hold – it’s nice to make a little bit of history!”
The technology, developed by Medclair, is widely used in Sweden and collects the exhaled nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and ‘cracks’ it into harmless nitrogen and oxygen.
The MDU purifies 99.6% of the nitrous oxide entering the unit and reduces the amount of nitrous oxide staff are exposed to.
Chris Allen, Sustainable Anaesthesia Fellow at Newcastle Hospitals said “This is a really exciting day for the whole team involved in developing this project at Newcastle Hospitals. It has been a huge team effort including staff from maternity services and our sustainability and estates teams.”
“Rolling this technology out across our maternity unit can help us to continue to support women to use gas and air during labour, whilst making it as environmentally friendly as possible.”