UPMC Pinnacle Hanover Wednesday announced it will be the first hospital in the region to offer nitrous oxide as a pain management alternative for women in labor.
Nitrous oxide is a colorless, nonflammable, tasteless and odorless gas. A blend of inhaled nitrous oxide (50 percent) and oxygen (50 percent) is used for analgesia in labor, according to UPMC Pinnacle.
The health system said studies show that nitrous oxide has few side effects and a long record of safe outcomes for both mother and baby. If a woman doesn't like or tires of using it, the health system said she can stop using it and begin using another method without residual effects.
“Nitrous oxide has been used extensively worldwide as a primary form of pain relief for labor and birth,” said Dawn Osterling, director of maternity services at UPMC Pinnacle Hanover. “We are excited to be able to offer this along with other pain management options to our patients, giving them another choice in their labor experience.”
Nitrous oxide is self-administered on the demand of the patient, who will be instructed on how to properly use it to control pain levels. It usually works within 15 seconds. The health system said pain will not completely disappear but it will become more manageable.