Fauquier Hospital’s Family Birthing Center Offers Nitrous Oxide Therapy to Enhance Patient Experience
December 28, 2022
Over the last three years, Fauquier Hospital has delivered over 1,000 babies. The need to have a variety of options available for patients in our community and surrounding areas is crucial. After welcoming midwifery services to the community in early 2020, we found that patients were increasingly interested in learning about different pain management options. Nitrous oxide therapy made its debut as a safe pain management solution in 2022 and it is now paving the way as an additional tool expecting mothers can use when in the delivery room. The nitrous oxide is delivered to the patient through a wearable mask and consists of a mixture of N2O (50%) and oxygen (50%). According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), “Research has supported the reasonable efficacy, safety, and unique and beneficial qualities of N2O as an analgesic for labor and its use as a widely accepted component of quality maternity care” (2022).
Monica Freidline, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) with Fauquier Health OB/GYN & Midwifery, commented “About half of my patients want pain control options but are hesitant to receive an epidural or IV pain medications.” She explained her patients want to be able to move around more easily, reposition, or get out of bed, but the epidural confines them to staying in bed. With IV pain management, the concern is that there is an increased chance of the baby being slower to breathe after birth. “Nitrous oxide is a great compromise for both mother and baby,” Monica said. “Nitrous oxide therapy is a safe pain management alternative for normal pregnancies. It does not alleviate pain, but it does take the edge off just enough. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety mom is facing and is safe for baby.”
Rowan, a Christmas dream come true, was born on December 21, 2022. Rowan’s mother, Renee Baxter, utilized the nitrous oxide therapy during her delivery process. As with many expecting mothers, there was some deviation from her original birthing plan. Renee mentioned how Monica, her delivering midwife, and the staff worked to honor as many things in her original birth plan as they could. Renee ended up using nitrous oxide to assist with her pain management. She described the mask as a “CPAP-like mask” that you put on and take off as needed. She said, “I put the mask on and would breathe in as I felt a contraction and then would take it off at the height of the contraction. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it, but once I did, I felt more in control.” Renee was able to focus her attention on breathing, re-positioning to be more comfortable in the bed, and was still able to move around with greater flexibility as needed.
At Fauquier Hospital’s Family Birthing Center, we understand every birth experience is a unique journey – one in which we encourage our patients to take as much control as possible. If you are expecting and are interested in learning more about nitrous oxide therapy, please be sure to ask your OB/GYN physician or midwife. Visit our Family Birthing Center online at FauquierHealth.org/family-birthing-center or call 540.316.4000.