Gas & Air For L&D/Home Births

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    Season two of "Call The Midwife" has started on our local PBS and the first installment featured something *new* being introduced, gas & air for both home births and for those delivering in the new maternity hospital. Doctor gives a test using "Chummy" which was a hoot and the midwives explain that while they will not be allowed to dispense during home births if a woman is having a hard time of things they can send for "doctor" and he will arrive with the kit in the boot of his car.

    This was the 1950's UK so am not sure how far technology lagged behind the United States, but do know women of my grandmother's generation were offered nitrous oxide and air mixtures during L&D, but my mother's generation said by their time it was gone, and certainly cannot remember hospitals offering it in the 1980's.

    Guess my question is why was gas and air discontinued? Liability? Safety? Physicans simply not wishing to bother? It is even difficult to find a dentist today that offers "gas" around here. The most you get are "numbing shots" with perhaps Vicodin afterwards.


    In the UK gas and air still seem to be offered to women in labour and midwives still area allowed to bring it for home births. As one has not heard of any serious outbreak of adverse outcomes to both mother and or child it seems odd why the practice is almost gone from the USA
  2. 5 Comments so far...

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    Had gas in the '90s with my last delivery. Didn't really do much for me but it was too late for an epidural.

    Perhaps, it's not a big enough earner for American anaethestists. (bugger, never can spell that word)

    As far as I know we still offer it in Canada.
    GrnTea likes this.
  4. 1
    Quote from Fiona59
    Had gas in the '90s with my last delivery. Didn't really do much for me but it was too late for an epidural.

    Perhaps, it's not a big enough earner for American anaethestists. (bugger, never can spell that word)

    As far as I know we still offer it in Canada.
    Oh we do! Used two tanks of it personally during labour in 2010... I apparently am one of the people for whom they named it laughing gas, I was apparently hilarious, couldn't stop giggling. I personally found it really helpful.
    Fiona59 likes this.
  5. 0
    Yes in the UK it is still used for L & D some women find it very effective and use it to concentrate on their breathing.
    The natural birth rate figures for the UK is a lot lower than here in the US, I dont have evidence to support this at my figure tips but it could because every birth in the UK the only professional who has to be there is a Midwife so they give one to one support and Dr's only get involved if there is are abnormal findings.
  6. 0
    Entonox is still a popular pain relief choice in England...midwifes still provide home births and delivery in the hospital environments. Women usually just see a Dr AKA consultant for complications. My sister had a water birth and was still allowed to use Entonox in the bath!!
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    Entonox now has special filters and can be controlled by the mother--but I think Entonox way back when may have leaked quite heavily into the surroundings and perhaps been inhaled a bit much by the family, midwives etc, making them woozy and unable to work. That's probably why they stopped using it initially. The hospital I started at in Canada had stopped using it because of personnel exposure (I don't know why they didn't just get the inhalation controlled stuff all the other places are using) and the hospital in NS did make us do yearly exposure testing by wearing a little badge clipped to the front of our uniform with someone using Entonox and turning it in at the end of the labour.


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