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Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2012;5(3-4):e126-31.

Nitrous oxide for labor analgesia: expanding analgesic options for women in the United States.

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  • 1Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nurse-Midwifery Specialty, Nashville, TN.


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a commonly used labor analgesic in many Western countries, but is used infrequently in the United States. The University of California at San Francisco has been offering N2O for labor analgesia for more than 30 years. Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently began offering N2O as an option for pain relief in laboring women. Many women report that N2O provides effective pain relief during labor and argue that it should be made more widely available in the United States. This article discusses the use of N2O for pain management during labor, including its history, properties, clinical indications, and use and environmental safety issues. Practical issues regarding implementation of N2O service in a medical center setting are also discussed.


Labor analgesia; Nitrous oxide

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