CRMH Family Maternity Services Unit Offers Alternative Pain Relief Option
September 18, 2018
Although it’s been offered for a few years now, several patients don’t realize that nitrous oxide is an option for pain management during labor and delivery at Carle Richland Memorial Hospital.
Nitrous oxide, or otherwise known as laughing gas, is a 50/50 blend of nitrous and oxygen. It is administered through a mask that the patient controls. When the pains of labor become intense, the patient simply puts the mask to their face and takes several deep breaths. Once the pains subside, the mask is removed and the effects of the nitrous oxide are gone within a few breaths.
“It takes some practice to get the timing right,” mentions Family Maternity Services Nurse Manager, Stephanie Ochs. “It works best when the patient begins to breathe in the gas right at the very beginning of a contraction. Sometimes if it isn’t used until part-way through the contraction, there isn’t as much relief.”
The benefit of nitrous oxide is there are no long-term effects from the gas and no known documented effects to the baby. It is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared through the lungs, so as soon as the mask is pulled away, the effects are gone from the body within a breath or two.
Lauren Rennier, FMS patient, used nitrous oxide as a pain relief method during her labor and delivery.
“I was aware that it was an option for pain relief before I came in and had already decided that was what I was going to try to use during labor so I could avoid an epidural,” states Lauren.
Lauren’s OB, Dr. Drew Schmucker, knew that she wanted to use the nitrous oxide for pain relief during labor, so when Lauren came to the hospital, the staff was already aware of her plan.
They gave her a brief tutorial on how to use the mask and Lauren noted that it went well, once she got the hang of it.
“My husband or the nurse would keep an eye on my contraction monitor and let me know when one was about to start. Then, I could begin breathing in the gas so it could take effect before the contraction got really intense,” says Lauren.
While the pain was still there, the gas had a relaxing effect and made it much more bearable.
“It worked well for me. I didn’t have to use any other method of pain relief during my labor or delivery. I would definitely use it again,” comments Lauren.
If you are expecting and would like more information on the use of nitrous oxide during labor and delivery, talk to your OB/GYN or call Carle Richland Memorial Hospital Family Maternity Services at 618-395-7340 ext. 4636.