Does anyone know the answer to this? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 12-13-2003, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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In Canada and the UK, they make the option of "gas and air" (presumably nitrous oxide and oxygen?) available as a method of pain relief during labor. Why is it not used in the US? The FDA obviously doesn't like something about it, while the corresponding agencies in other countries think it's fine. I can't find the answer -- anyone know?

BTW, I live in the US and don't want to use it, I'm just curious!
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#2 of 7 Old 12-13-2003, 12:55 PM
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I am curious about why gas is never an option for birthing moms in the US, too--

--although one time I was watching "World Birth Day" on TLC circa 2002, and there was a former narcotics addict who opted for gas as pain relief. The former addict was birthing in San Fran, if I recall.

I know a new mom from Nigeria who recently birthed in the US and was shocked when she got to the hosptial and found her plan of using gas during labor was not an option.

It is so wierd how OB practices become intrenched for Reason X (which is rarely an evidence-based reason, it seems!)

(PS I'm sure you're right, that the gas is 'laughing gas'.)
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#3 of 7 Old 12-13-2003, 02:06 PM
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My MIL had gas in 1938 with the birth of my DH.

I understand that gas can cause blood clots or other circulatory problems in the post partum period; pulmunary blood clots.

I also understand from reading Margaret Myles' book of Midwifery that gas (ether) is used for homebirths in England. I do not know how current this information is since I read it 23+ years ago when I had my DD.

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#4 of 7 Old 12-13-2003, 03:16 PM
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Yep, they still use nitrous at homebirths in the UK.

I'm not sure why they don't use it here in the US. Could be that it's really cheap, and epidurals are such a nice way to gain extra money for the hospital and the anesthesiologists. (sarcasm there)

But, yeah nitrous has Very little side effects - in fact, it wears off quickly from the mother and Very little gets to baby. If the mother is controlling the intake from a handheld mask, if she gets too much and feels loopy, the minute she pulls the mask away from her face (or it falls off), she starts to improVe.

Maybe someone has a reason why nitrous isn't used in the US. I'Ve eVen asked a dr about this, he had no idea.
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#5 of 7 Old 12-14-2003, 12:55 AM
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My mom had nitrous oxide in labour. It didn't make her laugh... it made her ininhibited. She got really nasty with the nurses. It seems to be most important in the states that women be obedient little pateints. Perhaps some of the side effects of gas are inconvenient for hospital staff?

Also, maybe it has something to do with the 'War on Drugs' in the states. Nitrous oxide might be seen as a bit too recreational? Although, this probably only occured to me because my dad was taking hit off my moms mask, when the nurse was out of the room.... it's funny what you learn about your parents once you're starting a family of your own :LOL
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#6 of 7 Old 12-14-2003, 04:30 AM
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Oh yeah, nitrous is definitely too effective and inexpensive for American obstetricians to consider using it. That's the only reason I can think to explain why doctors won't offer a pain-killing drug that is far less dangerous than using narcotics.

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#7 of 7 Old 12-14-2003, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Weird that dentists can use it, but not OBs/midwives? This is one of those questions that doesn't make a big difference in my life, but still bugs me because I can't find the answer!
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