NEWARK – The Board of Medical Examiners has proposed amendments to allow licensed midwives to administer nitrous oxide as labor analgesia in licensed health care facilities.
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is an analgesic used for pain relief. The FDA-approved 50% nitrous and 50% oxygen blend can be inhaled during labor by holding a face mask over the nose and mouth. While considered a less invasive alternative to an epidural, nitrous oxide does not reduce pain or take away the sensation of a contraction. Instead, nitrous oxide relieves anxiety, which helps in the tolerance of pain, and its effects clear quickly.
The Board has determined that the administration of nitrous oxide is within the training of midwives and that it is appropriate for midwives to administer nitrous oxide for pain relief both during labor and after delivery, so long as they do so only in health care facilities licensed by the Department of Health.
The proposed amendments, and information on how to submit a comment by September 18, 2020, can be viewed here.