Laughing gas is new option for moms-to-be in northern Colorado

PVH, MCR first hospitals in region to offer this effective and safe method of pain control for women during labor and just after birth
Feb. 15, 2017

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Feb. 15, 2017) – Women in northern Colorado now have a new option for pain management during labor and birth.

nitrous oxide mask
Women in northern Colorado now have nitrous oxide as an option for pain management during labor. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

On Feb. 1, UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland and UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins became the first hospitals in the area to offer nitrous oxide by inhalation as an alternative method for pain relief for women in labor. Nitrous oxide also can be used for pain relief immediately after birth.

The nitrous oxide gas is a blend of nitrous and oxygen, and unlike the continuous stream at a dental office, women hold the masks themselves and breathe the gas for a short time to help them through a contraction. Then, they remove the mask until it is needed again.

Breathing nitrous oxide gives patients additional oxygen and releases endorphins, helping to reduce the sensation of pain.

Countries around the world have been using nitrous oxide for many years during labor and childbirth, said women’s care charge nurse Nicky Barber. It’s being offered at MCR and PVH now because it can help women get through contractions or procedures with less discomfort.

mom and dad holding newborn
Jeremiah and Krystal Holladay enjoy their new baby, Sheyenne, just hours after she was born on Feb. 1. Krystal was the first woman in the region to be able to use nitrous oxide gas for pain management during her delivery of Sheyenne. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

“Nitrous oxide won’t take away all of the pain, but with it, patients have less anxiety and don’t care about the pain,” Barber said.

Extensive research has shown there is no effect on outcomes for the baby. The gas does not affect the woman’s ability to push during labor, and it can be used while the woman is up and moving around or in water, which isn’t always an option with other methods of pain control.

MCR and PVH join sister hospital UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora in offering the nitrous oxide option. UCH was the first hospital in the state to offer the option in 2014.

Women have many birth options these days, from un-medicated births and epidurals and now nitrous oxide, Barber said. “We wanted to give our moms-to-be another safe, effective option to choose from. Ultimately, we want our moms to decide what’s best for them and what they feel most comfortable with, and we’re here to support that choice.”

For more information about nitrous oxide option at MCR, call 970-624-5100. For information about the nitrous oxide option at PVH, call 970-495-8300.


About UCHealth

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. UCHealth combines Memorial Hospital, Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies, UCHealth Medical Group, Broomfield Hospital, Grandview Hospital and University of Colorado Hospital into an organization dedicated to health and providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. With more than 100 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.

About the author

Kelly Tracer is a media relations specialist at UCHealth, based in northern Colorado. For nearly 20 years, she worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and designer before diving into the world of health care communications.

She believes there is an amazing story inside everyone and considers it an honor to get to meet and work with so many extraordinary people – patients, families, providers, volunteers and staff – every day. She is also fascinated by health care innovation and programs that empower and inspire people and families to live healthier lives.

A native of Nebraska, Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She and her husband have two children and enjoy paddle boarding all summer and skiing all winter.