Nitrous Oxide

The team at Palm Beach Health Network is proud to provide maternity patients with the best available options for labor and delivery, making the experience a positive one for the entire family.

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide is classified as an analgesia by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. It is made up of 50% Nitrous 50% Oxygen and is a colorless and odorless, inhaled gas. It allows the user to disassociate from pain through the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. In many women, this results in decreased anxiety and an increased feeling of well-being and relaxation.

Nitrous Oxide is not a substitute for an epidural; you can have both pain management options. Instead of increasing the epidural at
the time of labor, which has the potential to make it more difficult to push the baby down the birth canal, nitrous oxide can be added to relieve your pain when you start to feel pressure.

Who is a candidate for Nitrous Oxide?

There are certain situations that are tailor-made for nitrous oxide, such as:

  • The patient planned a natural delivery, but needs a little help along the way
  • Labor progresses too quickly to allow for an epidural or IV pain medication
  • Early labor is uncomfortable, but it’s too soon for an epidural
  • The anesthesiologist is delayed in the operating room, causing the patient to wait for treatment
  • The patient has a medical condition that prevents getting an epidural
  • After a natural delivery, the patient needs pain relief while a laceration is being repaired

What are the most significant benefits of Nitrous Oxide to maternity patients?

  • It’s safe. Nitrous oxide has been used in labor and delivery since the early 1900s and has been carefully studied. Nothing has indicated adverse effects on either the mother or her baby.
  • It’s quick. When a woman is in pain and needs relief quickly, nitrous oxide may be the best choice due to its rapid onset.
  • The patient is in control. After a quick lesson, expectant mothers self-administer nitrous oxide, holding a mask over their own face. This allows each patient to decide when she needs more relief and how much.
  • The patient can remain mobile. With the use of nitrous oxide, the patient isn’t attached to IVs and can still move around freely.
  • No effect on uterine activity. Nitrous oxide doesn’t slow down labor.
  • Minimal side effects. While most women don’t have negative side effects, the only side effects noted were nausea, dizziness and drowsiness.
  • It’s noninvasive.

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