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USA Health gives expectant moms a new option for pain relief before childbirth.

Published Jul 26th, 2022

To help manage the pain associated with labor during childbirth, nitrous oxide now is being offered to expectant moms delivering at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

“We are proud to be the only delivering hospital in the area currently offering this service,” said Vicki Curtis, M.S.N., RNC-OB, director of women’s services for Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “Our goal is to give our moms the birthing experience they hope for in a safe and supportive environment.”

Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is an odorless analgesic typically administered by the patient by holding a small mask to their mouth and inhaling.

“While nitrous oxide may not eliminate all pain associated with child birth, it has been shown to significantly dull pain and lessen anxiety that sometimes is experienced by laboring moms,” said Claudia Reed, D.N.P., C.R.N.P., nurse manager for labor and delivery and high risk obstetrics at Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Nitrous oxide is an option for expectant moms who want to avoid an epidural or narcotic pain medication during the childbirth experience. An epidural is a shot that numbs the body below the injection site for several hours, depending on the dosage.

Reed noted that nitrous oxide also can be an option when it’s too early or too late to receive an epidural. The effects of the gas usually are felt in about 60 seconds and wear off shortly after the mask is removed.

As with many drugs, there are some side effects associated with its use. For nitrous oxide, side effects may include sedation, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. To learn more about its use before childbirth, Reed suggests talking to your healthcare provider to see if it could be an option for you. 

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