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Now Offering Nitrous Oxide to Laboring Women at Western Wisconsin Health

Western Wisconsin Health is pleased to announce that we are now offering Nitrous Oxide as a pain relief option during labor. We are the first medical center in western Wisconsin to have this option available.

Nitrous Oxide is a blend of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It has a calming effect that can help you cope with pain during labor. When breathed in, it can lead to feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Women have been using Nitrous Oxide safely during labor for many years in Europe, Canada and Australia, and its use is increasing in the United States.

“We are so excited to be able to offer all options to laboring women and their families at Western Wisconsin Health,” said Stephanie Johnson, Director of Women’s Health Services. “This includes Nitrous Oxide, which is making a re-emergence in this country, but has been used regularly in other countries.  Nitrous Oxide in labor is a lower blend than we are used to receiving in the dental office, so it is less sedating and more relaxing, which offers women decreased anxiety and discomfort. It can be used prior to an epidural. I believe this is an important aspect of Nitrous Oxide use, as it may cause a woman to be more relaxed and not receive an epidural quite as early in labor. This allows time for a laboring mama to be more mobile and get baby in optimal position for a vaginal birth, quite possibly decreasing the risk of a surgical birth.”

Unlike an epidural, Nitrous Oxide does not completely numb any parts of the body. Instead, it is often described as a disassociation from pain, which means you might still feel pain, but you won’t be as bothered or anxious about it. Nitrous Oxide works differently for each woman. You will be able to have control over when and how much of the treatment you take. It does not affect contractions or the progress of labor. Once you stop, the side effects of the gas are gone in about 1 minute. If you’re looking for pain relief that’s faster-acting and has fewer side effects than narcotics or an epidural, this option may help you get through labor. “Nitrous Oxide is safe and effective for pain relief while women are in labor,” said Dennis Hartung, MD, OB/GYN.  “We are pleased to have this as another option for pregnant women in our community.”

We are excited to announce that we also have two new providers joining the Women’s Health team in the near future. Dr. Steven Verbeek, OB/GYN, will begin seeing patients in May. Kerry Dixon, Certified Nurse Midwife, will begin seeing patients in July.

If you think you may be interested in using Nitrous Oxide, please ask your provider if this option is right for you. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit or call 715-684-1111. You can reach the Western Wisconsin Health Birth Center directly at 715-684-1455.

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