A pain reliever more commonly found in dental offices is now available to mothers in labor at CHI Health St. Mary’s.
Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” has been available at the hospital since May of this year, said Erin Barnes, R.N., who works in the CHI Health St. Mary’s Maternity Center.
Barnes was instrumental in organizing the program that brought nitrous oxide to the CHI Health Maternity Center.
“It used to be popular, and it’s used in dental clinics,” said Barnes, who added that the use of nitrous oxide during labor is increasing.
According to an article on the CHI Health St. Mary’s website, benefits of nitrous oxide include taking the edge off labor pains, reducing anxiety, giving a mother control of how much she uses, and working within 60 seconds of inhaling it.
Drawbacks of nitrous include nausea in some patients.
It is not recommended for women who have had gastric bypass surgery, collapsed lungs, severe vitamin B12 deficiency or musculosketal problems that would make holding a mask difficult.
Barnes said the goal of nitrous oxide is not necessarily pain control, but to get a mother to her goal of either a normal delivery or an epidural.
She said the nitrous oxide helps reduce some mothers’ anxiety and helps them focus.
Barnes said she recommends the use of nitrous, especially to first-time mothers.
Rachel Tharp had her son, Rodney, at CHI Health St. Mary’s in July.
She said her delivery nurse recommended using nitrous oxide during labor. “It’s a good distraction,” said Tharp.
“It dulled the pain out a bit.”
CHI Health offers nitrous oxide in Lincoln and Omaha Call 402-873-3321 for more information about maternity services at CHI Health St. Mary’s.