Labor Pain Is No Laughing Matter — Until Now

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Nitrous_Oxide_OB_webIf you are an expectant mother, you have more control over your birthing experience now more than ever before. A new option of decades old proven method to manage pain during labor is making a comeback and is now available at Glacial Ridge Hospital.

What is it?

Nitrous oxide, sometimes referred to as laughing gas, is a 50/50 blend of nitrous and oxygen. Nitrous oxide at this concentration is an analgesic. The odorless, tasteless gas is used in dentistry but at higher concentrations and is administered continuously by the dentist. For managing labor pain the concentrations are lower and you use it on an as needed basis.

How does it work?

Breathing in nitrous oxide gives you additional oxygen that boosts energy production and releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced in the body. You administer the gas yourself by holding a mask to your face. You breathe through the mask right before and during a contraction and remove it until you need it again. You can also use it right after delivery during any subsequent procedure.

It’s so great to work in a facility that embraces change in order to stay current or ahead in providing good care.” Dr. Gustave Mellgren, M.D., Family Medicine with Obstetrics, Glacial Ridge Health System

What are the benefits of using nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a great choice if you want as little intervention as possible during labor. It is also an option if you are not an ideal candidate for an epidural or other pain medications.

It is easy to administer and you control when you want the gas and when you don’t. Nitrous oxide takes effect within a minute, wears off quickly and clears your system typically in 2-5 minutes. You can be more mobile and do not have to be confined to a bed.

Unlike other pain management options, nitrous oxide does not slow contractions and you still have the ability to push during labor. Plus, it is considered safe for both you and baby.

You can switch from using nitrous oxide to other pain relief options at any time during labor. And you can begin using nitrous oxide earlier in your birthing process than other pain management options.

The history of nitrous oxide in managing labor pain

Nitrous oxide was used during childbirth up to the 1970s in the U.S. until epidurals became more available. Then, as it went out of favor, the equipment stopped being produced that made the concentrations needed for labor pain relief. However, a new company recently began making the equipment allowing this option to be available again. It is still commonly used in the U.K. and Canada.

Available to you

Glacial Ridge Health System is pleased to be able to offer an additional pain relief option for women in labor to enhance their birthing experience. This is in addition to IV Pain Medication and Epidurals. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are on staff and and available at all times to provide quality care.

Expectant mothers can learn more about pain relief options when attending expectant parent classes or when meeting with their prenatal care team.

When creating your birth plan, be sure to indicate the pain management options you want.

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