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Nitrous Oxide Use for Labor and Delivery Pain Relief

Nitrous Oxide use for labor pain is a mixture of 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen that is inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece that a woman holds and self administers, as she wishes. A version of nitrous oxide is used in dental offices, where most people know it as "laughing gas."

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does Nitrous Oxide work?

Nitrous Oxide reduces pain and anxiety. You hold your own mask, so you decide when to use it and how much you need. For best results, start to breath in the gas mixture around 30 seconds before the contraction begins allowing the maximum pain relief to occur when the contraction reaches its peak. You can put the mask down between contractions and use it on and off as you choose during labor. Nitrous Oxide can be used to help relieve pain and anxiety during other procedures that may come up during your stay.

Are there any side effects?

Some women feel drowsy, lightheaded, nauseated, or dizzy while using nitrous oxide. These are common side effects that will go away quickly when you stop breathing in the gas.

How will I feel when using Nitrous Oxide?

The experience can be different for each person but half of women who use it say it was helpful and they would choose to use it again. Some women say that they cope with their labor better. Others report more pain relief. Nitrous oxide also lowers anxiety levels. This can help you feel less tense during contractions, which may help you cope with pain.

Will Nitrous Oxide effect my labor and baby?

No, there are no known effects on your labor or baby. Nitrous oxide is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body quickly through the lungs. As soon as you pull the mask away, the effect of breathing the gas is gone within a few breaths. Nitrous oxide does not have any effect on your uterus or contractions.

Do I need to choose between using Nitrous Oxide or having an epidural?

No. Some women may use Nitrous Oxide before they have an epidural placed. The epidural and Nitrous Oxide are not used at the same time. You may choose to use Nitrous Oxide first and then move to a different type of pain relief method later in labor.

Can I be out of bed and use Nitrous Oxide?

Yes, you may be up and about in your room with assistance. You can stand at the bedside or use the birthing ball.