Nitrous Oxide During Childbirth

Nitrous Oxide During Childbirth

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a mixture of 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen. It is self-administered and inhaled through a mask or a mouthpiece. It may not relieve all the pain of labor contractions, but generally decreases the intensity of pain.

How does Nitrous Oxide work?

At the beginning of a contraction, you will inhale the nitrous through a mask or mouthpiece, until the peak of the contraction, then stop use until your next contraction starts. Inhaling the gas at the beginning of a contraction helps the gas reach its peak effect with the peak of the contraction.

Does it have any side effects?

Some women have reported nausea after prolonged use. Medication to help ease the nausea is available if this happens. It can cause unsteadiness when standing or walking, so a family member or staff person should be present when you get up.

Is there any extra monitoring required?

The only additional monitoring when using nitrous oxide is a pulse oximeter at the start of use.

Can I use Nitrous Oxide and have intravenous narcotics at the same time?

Yes, you can use nitrous oxide and narcotics at the same time but cannot use the tub if narcotics have been used less than 2 hours previously.

Can I use Nitrous Oxide in the tub?

Yes, you can use Nitrous Oxide in the tub if narcotics have not been used in the previous 2 hours.

Are there any reasons I could not use it?

Yes, you cannot use it if you:

  • Cannot hold your own mouthpiece or facemask
  • Have pernicious anemia or a B12 deficiency for which you take B12 supplements
  • If you want to use the tub and have had narcotics less than two hours prior

Are there any side effects on the baby?

No, there are no known effects on the baby. Nitrous Oxide is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body through the lungs, so as soon as you pull the mask away, the nitrous oxide effect is gone within a breath or two.