The latest news from Holyoke Medical Center
News Updates

Holyoke Medical Center First In State To Offer Nitrous Oxide For Labor Pain Management 

The Birthing Center® at Holyoke Medical Center is pleased to be among the first in the United States to offer nitrous oxide to women for labor pain management.

Women who choose nitrous oxide administer the gas themselves, via a mask that fits securely over their nose and mouth. The mixture is 50 percent nitrous oxide and 50 percent oxygen and women can inhale it during any stage of labor.

Ginny Miller“This is a very exciting moment for us, and for the women in our community,” said Certified Nurse Midwife Ginny Miller of Midwifery Care of Holyoke. “It’s another option for pain relief and fits with our philosophy of providing what is best and safest for mom and baby. We respect women’s birth plans and want to offer them as many options as we can.”

Not only is HMC the first hospital in Massachusetts to offer nitrous oxide, but it is also one of only a handful in the United States embracing this technology, which has been used widely in Europe for decades. It has also been used at the University of San Francisco and Vanderbilt University, with excellent results as a tool for labor pain Management.

“The whole idea of keeping women more mobile and having less interventions is always helpful. Nitrous oxide is an option that quickly gives a sense of euphoria and decreases the perception of pain. It’s not like an anesthetic that keeps away all pain, but it does alleviate pain and discomfort during labor, and potentially for other procedures we may have to do. It works very quickly and is out of the system within seconds, so it doesn’t negate a woman’s choice for epidural or other pain management intervention if desired or necessary,” Miller said.


Advantages of Nitrous Oxide for Labor Pain Management:

  • Provides enough labor pain relief for many women
  • Enables women to avoid or postpone epidural pain medication
  • Can be used in any stage of labor right up to the birth
  • Gives laboring woman control over managing labor pain
  • Useful in additional obstetrical procedures
  • Wears off within seconds and has no adverse effects on mom or baby

For further information, contact The Birthing Center® at Holyoke Medical Center at (413) 534-2700.