As with most birth centers, the Birth Center of Northwest Arkansas midwives want you to walk around and stay active during labor. There is a walking trail and fishing dock directly behind the birth center! Unlike in a hospital setting, you won’t have a routine IV, and you will be free to move around as you need.

Pain Management Options at BCNWA

  • Ambulation
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Birthing balls
  • Breathing techniques
  • TENS unit*
  • Sterile water papules*
  • Nitrous Oxide*

*Additional costs may apply.

Questions about Nitrous Oxide

Why have I never heard of nitrous oxide being used in labor before?

Probably because you in the United States, where about 1% of women have the option of N2O in labor. In contrast, nitrous oxide (“gas and air”) is used by 60% of laboring women in the United Kingdom, 50% of laboring women in Australia and almost 50% of women who deliver in Finland and Canada. SOURCE

What kind of equipment is involved in administering N2O to patients?

The Birth Center of Northwest Arkansas keeps a Nitronox unit on-site. Nitronox is a patient self-administered system that delivers a safe and effective mixture of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen through a hand-held mask.Pain relief starts within minutes after inhalation. Once inhalations are discontinued, the effect of the nitrous oxide is quickly reversed by breathing room air.

Is this safe for the baby?

A systematic review was conducted by the University of California at San Francisco in 2002 to determine the efficacy and safety of nitrous oxide for labor analgesia. Researchers concluded that “[n]itrous oxide is not a potent labor analgesic, but it is safe for parturient women, their newborns, and health care workers in attendance during its administration” and that “[i]t appears to provide adequately effective analgesia for many women.” SOURCEThe 50/50 mixture of N2O with oxygen is eliminated through the lungs, not the liver, making it a safe option for mother and baby if self-administered properly.  It is not possible to overdose on nitrous oxide, nor will it make the laboring woman or the baby groggy.

How effective is Nitronox in labor?

It’s an analgesic in labor, not an anesthetic. Some women say that the pain is still present but they just don’t care while inhaling the nitrous oxide-oxygen mixture.  The effect of Nitronox will vary from patient to patient. Women report having less anxiety about contractions, postpartum suturing and other medical procedures.