Initiating Intrapartum Nitrous Oxide in an Academic Hospital: Considerations and ChallengesSymbol
A 50%-50% mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen has long been used for managing pain during labor in many countries, but only recently has this intrapartum analgesic technique become popular in the United States. Nitrous oxide is considered minimal sedation and a safe pain management alternative. Many facilities are now interested in providing laboring women this analgesic option. The process of establishing use of nitrous oxide in a large institution can be complicated and may seem daunting. This brief report describes the challenges that occurred during the process of initiating nitrous oxide for pain management during childbirth at an academic medical center and discusses various committee roles. Nurses at the University of New Mexico Hospital now directly oversee the administration of nitrous oxide to women in labor in accordance to an established guideline. Despite limited available research, the guideline also allows offering nitrous oxide as a pain management technique for women with opioid dependence. Key components of the guideline and specifics related to education, cost, and safety are reviewed.