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PeaceHealth St. Joseph Childbirth Center offers nitrous oxide for pain management

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A young patient holds a nitrous oxide mask to her face

In alignment with its commitment to offering patients pain relief options tailored to match their individual preferences and needs, the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Childbirth Center (CBC) now offers nitrous oxide for pain management.

“We are fully committed to providing each of our patients with individualized, compassionate care that never takes a one-size-fits-all approach. We use many resources, techniques and strategies to help mothers through the pain of childbirth,” said Gallit Eni, MSN, nurse manager of the CBC. “Nitrous oxide provides us with an additional tool to meet the needs of our patients. We know that it will be an apt pain relief option for many laboring mothers.”

Eni explained, “Nitrous oxide is a noninvasive pain reliever the patient can control. It can be self-administered and is a good option to dull pain and lessen anxiety during labor.”

She continued, “The patient gives herself the medication by holding a small mask to her mouth to inhale the gas. It takes effect within a minute. Once the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous oxide quickly wear off.”

Side effects are minimal and might include drowsiness or dizziness, lightheadedness and even feeling a little silly, but there is rapid relief from pain, and the effects wear off quickly.

While nitrous oxide does cross the placenta to the baby, the newborn clears the gas through the lungs very quickly after birth. There is no evidence of adverse effects in APGAR scores used to evaluate a newborn’s health. 

Nitrous oxide use during labor is widespread in Canada, Europe and Australia and is gaining popularity in the United States. The American Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health has added its approval, citing safety for mothers and newborns, ease of administration and effectiveness.

Find frequently asked patient questions about the use of nitrous oxide during childbirth here.