Nitrous Oxide for Managing Labor Pain

Lakeland Offers New Women’s Health Services

Image of Mother Holding and Looking at InfantWomen giving birth at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph have a new option for managing pain while in labor. The hospital recently became one of only two in our region (west Michigan and northern Indiana) to offer nitrous oxide for patients giving birth. Traditionally known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide used for labor pain is a mixture of 50 percent nitrous gas and 50 percent oxygen. The nitrous gas is self administered by the laboring woman and inhaled through a mask. There is no risk of overdose to the mother or child.

“Each woman’s birth plan is different and as we continue to provide the best pain control for our laboring moms, we also want their babies to be safe and have the least amount of exposure to long acting medications,” said Tammy Jerz, RN, Manager of the BirthPlace in Niles and St. Joseph. “Nitrous oxide in a 50/50 mixture with oxygen could be the answer for some women as it is fast acting and leaves the body just as quickly. We are proud to be one of the few hospitals in our area to provide another safe option for our patients’ pain control.”

Nitrous is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body through the lungs, so as soon as the mask is pulled away, the nitrous effect is gone within a few breaths. Although nitrous and an epidural cannot be used together, women may choose to use nitrous oxide first and then move on to a different type of pain relief if needed as labor progresses.

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