University of Colorado Hospital First Hospital in Region to Offer Nitrous Oxide for Labor

Research shows nitrous oxide is an effective and safe method of pain control.
October 7th, 2014

AURORA, Colo.  – Women in Colorado now have a new option for pain management during labor and birth. The Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health at University of Colorado Hospital will begin offering nitrous oxide by inhalation as an alternative method for pain relief for women in labor on October 13. Nitrous oxide can also be used for pain relief immediately after birth. Certified nurse-midwives, obstetricians and anesthesia experts will be available to help women decide which method of pain relief, if any, they would prefer.

“Countries around the world have used nitrous oxide for many years during labor and childbirth,” said Certified Nurse-Midwife Jessica Anderson. “We’re now offering this at University of Colorado Hospital because our patients have asked for it, and because we believe it can really help women get through contractions or procedures with less discomfort.”

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

Breathing nitrous oxide gives patients additional oxygen and also releases endorphins, helping to reduce the sensation of pain. Extensive research has shown there is no effect on fetal outcomes and minimal toxicity to the patient. The gas does not affect the woman’s ability to push during labor.

“We are thrilled to offer another option for managing pain during labor,” said Dr. Cristina Wood, Obstetric Anesthesiologist at University of Colorado Hospital. “Nitrous oxide has been shown to be extremely safe for mothers and babies and allows for mobility in labor, just as our walking epidurals can do. We closely monitor all of our mothers and babies to ensure safety for all.”

“We’re very excited to be the only hospital in Colorado, and one of the few places in the nation, to offer the option of nitrous oxide pain relief to our patients,” said Anderson. “Women now have many options for their birth plan. For instance, we can offer water births, un-medicated births, epidurals and now nitrous oxide. Ultimately, we want the soon-to-be new mom to decide what’s best for her.”

All OB and newborn care services at UCH are part of the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health (CIMFH). A partnership among UCH, Children’s Hospital Colorado and the CU School of Medicine, the CIMFH combines the very best specialists in obstetrical, maternal and fetal care for patients before, during and after delivery.

“Providing nitrous oxide for women during labor is just one of many examples of how CIMFH provides care for women that’s not available anywhere else,” said Dr. Nanette Santoro, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology for University of Colorado School of Medicine. “And of course our ultimate goal is to have healthier moms and healthier babies.”

To schedule an appointment, please call University Obstetrics at 720-848-1060 or the Center for Midwifery at 720-848-1700.

About University of Colorado Hospital

University of Colorado Hospital is the Rocky Mountain region’s leading academic medical center. UCH is best known as an innovator in patient care and often as one of the first hospitals to bring new medicine to the patients’ bedside. University HealthSystem Consortium named UCH the #1 Academic Medical Center in quality in the nation in both 2011 and 2012, and U.S. News & World Report named University of Colorado Hospital the best hospital in Colorado in 2012, 2013 and 2014. UCH is one of five Colorado hospitals that make up University of Colorado Health. The hospital’s physicians are affiliated with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, part of the University of Colorado system. Based on the expansive Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO, the hospital is where patient care, research and education converge to establish the future of health care delivery.

About the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health

The Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health (CIMFH) offers mothers, babies and their families comprehensive care and treatment before, during and after routine and high risk pregnancies. The Institute was formed through a partnership among University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2010 to bring together the combined strengths of the region’s top academic medical hospitals and provide a more sophisticated level of care to patients. Experts from all three entities work together on the Anschutz Medical Campus, with outpatient and birthing facilities at both University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado. The CIMFH also has several locations for outpatient visits throughout the Metro Denver area.

Contact: Dan Weaver at 720-848-7852 or Dan.Weaver@UCHealth.org

About the author

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. With 24,000 employees, UCHealth includes 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.