Nitrous Oxide now available for laboring moms

Mile Bluff's Obstetrics Department is excited to provide an additional pain management option. Nitrous Oxide is now available for laboring mothers.

Nitrous oxide provides a non-invasive, self-administered pain management alternative that is a safe approach to helping relieve labor symptoms. This colorless, odorless, tasteless gas is used to decrease the pain a mother experiences during contractions. It was first used during labor in the 1930s and is currently widely used in Europe.

The nitrous oxide that is used during childbirth is different than the 'laughing gas' that is used at the dentist. Nitrous oxide that is used for labor pain is a 50/50 mixture of nitrous gas and oxygen, which is inhaled through a mask. It does not have the same effect as the anesthesia used at the dentist. Instead, it allows laboring mothers to breathe in the gas on their own, right before a contraction begins. This allows the gas to reach its peak effect at the same time the contraction reaches its peak.

Nitrous oxide is a safe option to use during delivery, as there are no known effects on the baby. Nitrous is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body through the lungs. As soon as a mother stops breathing the gas, the nitrous effect is gone within a breath or two.

While nitrous oxide is a pain management alternative, laboring mothers can also make the decision to have an epidural as well. Some women may use nitrous prior to having an epidural placed. Although they cannot be used together, it is fine to use nitrous first, and then move to an epidural or a different type of pain relief later.

The use of nitrous does allow for laboring mothers to move around. As long as a mother is steady on her feet, she can be up and moving during labor. The nitrous does not interfere with the natural progression of labor, and does not require continuous monitoring of the baby.

If you are an expecting mother and are interested in learning more about nitrous oxide as a pain management alternative during labor, you are encouraged to talk to your primary care provider to determine if the option may be right for you. If you have any additional questions about childbirth at Mile Bluff, you are welcome to contact the Obstetrics Department at 608-847-1012 or the Childbirth Education Department at 608-847-1013.