Nitrous oxide has been used for temporary pain relief for labor for many years. Nitrous was used in the U.S. before epidural anesthesia became so popular. Once epidurals took over the labor and delivery units of hospitals, companies that made nitrous oxide equipment no longer could keep up with the popularity of epidurals. Therefore, those companies stopped making the nitrous equipment in the U.S. Nitrous is still being used daily in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Scandinavia.
Women in the U.S. are now looking for alternatives to epidurals. More women are opting for natural births and out-of-hospital births. At birthing centers and homes, the only option for medical pain relief has been narcotics, such as stadol or nubain. These medications make women sleepy for many hours. Many women find this side effect to be unwanted. Therefore, nitrous oxide is a wonderful medical pain reliever for those women. It is breathed in through a mask causing the feelings of calmness and relaxation. It does not make the mother or baby sleepy. When wanting the effects to go away, one simply pulls the mask away and breathes regular air for several breaths. Then the effect of the nitrous is gone. Due to this fast onset of the effect and fast return to “normal,” nitrous is a very safe option for moms and babies.
Due to U.S. patient demand, nitrous oxide is now coming back! Two new companies are making nitrous oxide equipment for hospitals and birthing centers. One of those companies introduced their equipment to the U.S. in January 2013. Since then, 12 hospitals and 20 birthing centers in the U.S. have begun using the Nitronox system. Allen Birthing Center is one of those 20 birthing centers to offer nitrous oxide!
ABC is offering nitrous oxide for pain management during labor, perineal repairs, IUD insertions, pap smears, or any other times when moms are anxious. Nitrous is a wonderful tool to use during times of high anxiety. It relaxes the mom and allows her body to work without the stress hormones negating the natural birth process. We are very pleased to offer nitrous for women who need that extra help for relaxation. Please ask your midwife any questions regarding the use of nitrous.
Below we have listed several studies regarding the use and safety of nitrous oxide: