Obstetrics - Labor and Delivery - Nitrous for analgesia during labor

To enhance the laboring options available at Floyd Memorial, the hospital purchased a Porter Nitronox System for the Birthing Center in December of 2015.  Nitrous Oxide is a mild analgesic that offers pain reduction for patients looking for an alternative to narcotic use during labor.

Nitrous has been widely used in Europe for decades. This technology uses a blend of 50 percent nitrous oxide and 50 percent oxygen for analgesia and reduced anxiety during labor. Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that is absorbed by inhalation and is a safe and effective tool for laboring mothers.  There is also no known harm to baby when using nitrous during labor.

The experience of labor is different for all women, and their response to its discomforts is highly individual. Nitrous has been proven to reduce anxiety related to the labor process. The effects of inhaling the nitrous can be felt in about 30-60 seconds. The duration of its effects is short, so it is safe for use during any stage of the labor and delivery process.  Nitrous does not have any effect on labor progress.  Nitrous Oxide is self administered allowing the patient to choose when to use it.  Patients are in control of their pain management while remaining fully alert. The use of nitrous does not interfere with a woman’s decision to utilize other forms of analgesia such as an epidural if desired. However, once an epidural is in place, nitrous can no longer be utilized.

Not all women are candidates for nitrous.  Possible contraindications may include respiratory conditions, a positive drug screen, use of methadone or subutex and premature labor.  Side effects are minimal.  A small percentage of women experience nausea, vomiting and dizziness, while others do not like the feeling of a mask on their face.  Some women just do not like how they feel when using the nitrous, but it is an alternative for many women who just need to “take the edge off” during various stages of labor.


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