Zeeland Community Hospital

Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital Introduces Nitrous Oxide as Form of Labor and Delivery Pain Management

ZEELAND, Mich., December 16, 2015 – Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital was among the first hospitals in Michigan to use nitrous oxide as a form of pain management for labor and delivery.

Nitrous oxide is a gas that is used in conjunction with pure oxygen to relax patients. When inhaled and absorbed into the body, it has a natural calming effect. It is mild, non-toxic and removes itself naturally from the body after use. When used as pain management for childbirth, the gas is self-administered by the patient with the use of a facemask, as needed, throughout the process. Patients are able to control when they use the nitrous oxide and are able to inhale accordingly

On October 1, 2015, Stephanie Braspenninx, became the first patient to use this form of pain management at Zeeland Community Hospital. She describes the experience as “awesome.” Braspenninx has a unique perspective on the use of this new pain management method since she has been a registered nurse for five years in the Family Birth Center at Zeeland Community Hospital, where she gave birth to all four of her children.

“I was so excited to try this,” said Braspenninx. “It was amazing to see that the baby was so reactive, as if there were no medications at all. His heartrate was not affected.” The difference that she noted with this delivery compared to her other deliveries is that she was able to stay more relaxed but still remained focused. Everyone is affected differently with the use of nitrous oxide but Braspenninx added that she “didn’t dread the next contraction” and “felt completely present” during the entire birth of her son.

 When asked whether she would use this technique again, Braspenninx replied, “Absolutely. It was non-invasive and as close to a natural birth as I could get with the little extra help I needed.”

“Stephanie was an ideal candidate to try this form of pain management. With her background as a labor and delivery nurse, she was able to watch the baby’s heart rate on the monitors and see that the baby was responding beautifully as the labor progressed,” said Julianne Carey, nursing director, Zeeland Community Hospital. “We are excited to add this safe and effective form of pain management to the list of services offered to our expecting mothers in the Family Birth Center.”

Zeeland Community Hospital has had 21 successful cases of nitrous oxide use since October. “This is a great option in pain management for patients that want as little intervention as possible during labor or if they are not an ideal candidate for an epidural or other form of pain medication, said Dawn DeWitt, MD, OB/GYN at Zeeland Community Hospital. “Another benefit to using nitrous oxide is that it leaves the system within five minutes of each breath. By the conclusion of delivery it has left the patient’s body completely.”

Women with questions about this sedation option should talk to their health care provider.

Spectrum Health System Boilerplate

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 183 ambulatory and service sites; more than 3,400 physicians and advanced practice providers, including nearly 1,400 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan with about 658,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 23,800 employees. The organization provided $283 million in community benefit during its 2015 fiscal year. Spectrum Health is the only health system in Michigan to be named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems® by Truven Health Analytics for 2015. This is the fourth time the organization has received this recognition.



Ashley Kiekintveld

Sara Donkersloot