NOW AVAILABLE – Nitrous Oxide for Labor Pain Relief!


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Local women currently have limited options for pain relief during childbirth. In the hospitals of Fort Wayne and the surrounding counties, options for pain control during childbirth are almost exclusively pharmacological methods – narcotic pain medicine or epidurals – with the use of water limited to the first stage of labor only as water birth is not allowed except for DeKalb Health hospital in Auburn. In the home or birth center setting, choices are limited as well because not all midwives and can offer injectable pain medication and epidurals cannot be given at all, although water birth is an option in these settings.

Nitrous oxide blended 50/50 with oxygen by inhalation is used as a major method of labor pain relief in countries with high standards for safe and effective health care including Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. A survey of all Norwegian labor units in 2005 reported that 86% of labor units offer nitrous oxide. A 2008 Australian report identified nitrous oxide as the most commonly used type of analgesia in that country, being used by 50.3% of women (epidural or caudal being used by 28.2%). In the US, this option has been available and extensively utilized at the University of California at San Francisco for approximately 30 years and is now being implemented in birth centers across the country. Additionally, inhaled nitrous oxide has a long history of dental use in the US where it is used routinely at concentrations of up to 70% without medical monitoring.

Benefits of nitrous oxide for labor include:

  • Patient self administered Empower patients to control their own pain management
  • Ease of administration Non-invasive
  • Proven safe Decades of use globally
  • Fast acting analgesic Takes effect in minutes
  • Short duration of effect Wears off in minutes
  • Ideal for use during labor as well as post birth procedures
  • Improves patient satisfaction
  • Cost effective and low cost of use
  • Additional pain management tool

A recent American College of Nurse Midwives position statement reads Women should have access to a variety of approaches to promote comfort and reduce pain throughout labor. Currently there are no birth providers or facilities in the greater Fort Wayne area or Northeast Indiana offering this option to women. Numerous studies have shown that the nitrous oxide does not have negative effects on the baby and the mother is able to be mobile and fully participate in the childbirth process, including still having the option to labor and birth in water, unlike epidural or narcotic analgesia. These benefits make nitrous oxide ideal for women seeking to have a natural childbirth experience yet desire significant but safe relief of discomfort during the birth process. Please take a few minutes to watch this informational video on the use of nitrous oxide in childbirth:

Earthen Vessels Nurse-Midwifery LCC provides full-scope nurse-midwifery services to families living  in Northeast Indiana in Allen County/Fort Wayne and surrounding counties. Services include well-woman care and preventative screenings plus all-inclusive prenatal, home birth and postpartum care for healthy mothers and babies. Lab tests, ultrasounds, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, pap smears, women’s health, and common ailments can all be managed by your midwife at Earthen Vessels Nurse-Midwifery.  The midwife and nurses of Earthen Vessels Nurse-Midwifery believe that women deserve safe and high-quality health care while maintaining access to adequate pain relief in labor. Therefore, in response to numerous client requests, Earthen Vessels Nurse-Midwifery is excited to be able to offer nitrous oxide to fill the gap in labor pain relief options and provide women with more choices to effectively relieve pain and anxiety during childbirth.

Contact Janis Chrissikos CNM at 260-704-7166 or email to for more information or to find out if nitrous oxide for labor pain relief is right for you!.