St. Joseph's Hospital-North Offers Special Maternity Services

Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” has been used as anesthesia in dentistry for 170 years.  More recently, hospitals in the U.S. have begun offering nitrous oxide as analgesia – pain reliever – for mothers during childbirth.  St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz incorporated the practice in April 2016.

When a laboring woman choses this option, a machine is brought into the labor and delivery room that produces a 50/50 blend of oxygen and nitrous oxide, which is self-administered. 

The patient holds a mask to her face and is encouraged to time breaths prior to contractions so that the effect peaks at the beginning of a contraction.  It takes a few seconds for the nitrous oxide to peak and it’s very short acting so there are no long-lasting effects.

The reasons for using nitrous oxide for pain relief vary:  sometimes mothers in labor use nitrous oxide until they can get an epidural or in addition to it; sometimes there isn’t time for an epidural or the patient doesn’t qualify for one. Others choose nitrous oxide from the beginning.  Use of nitrous oxide is very individualized and affects patients differently. 

Patients should discuss the method of pain relief with their physician ahead of time.  Others learn about it during St. Joseph’s Hospital-North’s Prepared Childbirth classes or a tour of their Labor and Delivery unit.  To find a Prepared Childbirth class or tour, go to BayCareEvents.org.

To learn more about maternity services at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, visit BayCare.org/sjhn/services/maternity.