Inhalation Anesthesia

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the only anesthetic gas in current use in the intrapartum in the United States:

■ Provides pain relief during labor and delivery

■ Produces an altered consciousness

■ Does not prolong labor or interfere with uterine contractions

■ Self-administered N2O in a 50% mixture with 50% O2 (face mask) provides excellent pain relief in the second stage of labor.

■ Also used for cesarean delivery and some forceps deliveries with IV administration of a short-acting barbituate (e.g., thiopental) and a muscle relaxant (e.g., succinylcholine)

Prophylactic measures against aspiration include fasting for at least 6 hours prior to anesthesia and antacid administration before induction.

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