Using Gas and Air for Pain Relief During Labour

While most people are familiar with methods of pain relief like the epidural and painkillers that are used during pregnancy, many are surprised by the fact that alternatives like Entonox are used. By having a range of different options for effective pain relief during labour, your care providers ensure that you can use one that you are comfortable with and that suits you medically. Entonox is one such option, and this article discusses why and when Entonox is used.

What is Entonox?

Entonox is a gas based method of pain relief during childbirth. Entonox is actually a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas, the latter of which is an anaesthetic also known as ‘laughing gas’. Entonox is also known as Nitronox or Gas and Air, and remains broadly used in medicine for a number of applications.

How is Entonox applied?

Entonox is delivered by means of a facemask or mouthpiece fixed to what is called a demand valve. This valve gives you control over how much Entonox you are inhaling, so when the pain worsens you can inhale more should you need to.

How does Entonox work?

Entonox can kick in within 30 seconds of administration, and is removed from the body within 60 seconds because you exhale it straight out. This form of pain relief is called rapid onset because of how quickly the effects kick in and wear off, and this effect is attributed to the fact that gas is inhaled and exhaled very quickly through the lungs.

Entonox is an extremely effective pain killer (analgesic) which is comparable to morphine.

Safety of Entonox

Entonox is known to be an extremely safe tool during emergency medical situations and during pregnancies. The gas itself passes through the body very quickly and is not absorbed in a toxic manner. Nitrous oxide on its own can cause a lack of oxygen with serious health consequences, but as Entonox is half oxygen and half nitrous oxide, this safety concern is lifted.

Some people are concerned that because you will have control over your own dosing you might accidentally over dose yourself. Fortunately Entonox is designed so that if you give yourself too much of the gas your hand will simply drop away, taking the mask with it, and allowing you to exhale the gas and recover long before any dangerous effects could possibly take place.

That being said there are times when Entonox, namely during the first 2 trimesters of a pregnancy, or with anyone suffering from pneumothorax, sinus or middle ear infections or diseases.

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