Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nitrous Oxide for Labor Relief?

Why haven't I heard of this before?

Consider the Source: An Interview about Nitrous Oxide with Judith Rooks

European countries use nitrous oxide regularly and safely as a form of labor relief, but it's a practically unknown as a labor option in the US. This is possibly because only two hospitals in the United States currently offer nitrous oxide to laboring women. There is a shortage of equipment as more hospitals are trying to acquire them and be able to offer it.

When you read the article you may be as stunned as I was to find:
  • Nitrous oxide is safe to both mother and baby with none of the ill side effects associated with other forms of pain relief.
  • It can be self-administered by the laboring woman, which allows her to use it as-needed and also avoids over exposure.
  • The gas is expelled quickly from the mother's and the baby's bodies. A newborn infant expels the gas from its body with its first few breaths and is completely free of it within 5 minutes. This means no NICU admissions from adverse reactions to medication.
  • For women who want to avoid an epidural, the use of nitrous oxide can take the edge off in the moment she feels she needs it. Because it's self-administered, she can start it or discontinue it at any time.
  • Women wanting an epidural can use nitrous oxide in the early stages of labor and while waiting for the epidural, and avoid the use of opoids (which carry a risk to the baby).
For much more in-depth information, along with scientific evidence, please read the full article linked to above.

For demonstration purposes, please check this video of a woman using nitrous oxide while pushing her baby out. Please ignore the cheesy commentary from the producer.

What do you think?

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