Until its safety for patients and staff could be confirmed during the COVID-19 pandemic response, nitrous oxide gas (N2O) for labor pain management was temporarily suspended at Valley. Nitrous oxide is a gas inhaled by laboring mothers for controlling the pain of contractions, and also used in dentist offices and operating rooms. The concern was that the gas flow might release infectious droplets into the air if used by patients with COVID-19. The increased availability of COVID-19 testing has made the use of N2O safe for those in labor and those around them for support when used under certain conditions.
Here’s how Valley is keeping this pain management option safe for all Birth Center patients:
- Nitrous oxide gas for labor pain will only be available for asymptomatic, COVID-19 negative patients.
- Patients interested in N2O must tell their providers ahead of time.
- Patients must be tested for COVID-19 in advance of their scheduled induction.
- For spontaneous labor, N2O will only be available with a negative COVID-19 test result.
- A negative COVID-19 test is considered valid for 7 days from the test date. If more than 7 days go by from the last test, a repeat COVID-19 test must be done to ensure negative status.
- N2O will NOT be available to anyone with “respiratory” symptoms, even with a negative COVID-19 test.