Nitrous Oxide

What is nitrous oxide and how is it used for labor?

Nitrous oxide is known by most people as “laughing gas.” Many dentists use it to help with pain during dental care. For labor pain, half nitrous oxide gas is mixed with half oxygen and breathed through a mask or a mouthpiece. Many women in Europe and other countries, such as Canada and Australia, use it to help cope with pain in labor. It is so common that in some countries as many as 8 in 10 women use nitrous oxide to help with labor pain. Women in these countries have been using this method of pain relief in labor safely for many years. Nitrous oxide hasn’t been used as often in the United States, but that is changing. It is making a comeback. It does not limit your movement in labor like an epidural does and it does not make it harder to push like an epidural can. It does not increase the chance of having a cesarean section.

How does nitrous oxide work to relieve pain during labor?

The nitrous oxide is mixed in special equipment, and you breathe it through a mask or mouthpiece. You hold your own mask, so you decide when to use it and how much you need. You start to breathe in the gas mixture about 30 seconds before a contraction begins. Starting to breathe the gas before a contraction begins helps the gas to work best about the same time the contraction reaches its peak, so you get the greatest amount of relief. You can put the mask or mouthpiece down between contractions and use it on and off as you choose.

How much does nitrous oxide help with labor pain?

How well nitrous oxide works is different for every woman, but the majority of our clients who have used it say it is helpful and they would choose to use it again. Some women say that it “takes the edge off” of the peak of the contractions, enough that they are able to cope with their labor better. Others report more pain relief. Nitrous oxide also lowers anxiety. This helps you feel less tense during contractions, which may also help you cope with pain better. Some women do not find nitrous oxide helpful enough or do not like the way it makes them feel. They can choose to try other options to help their labor pain.

Can I use nitrous oxide while I am in the tub?

YES! West Houston Birth Center allows you to use the nitrous oxide while you are in the tub as long as you aren’t having any complications in labor that would risk you out of having a water birth. Different facilities might have different policies on using Nitrous Oxide in the birthing tub.

Can I use nitrous oxide while I get stitches after the birth?

YES! We will do everything we can to help prevent you from having a vaginal tear during the birth of your baby, however if you were to tear, you can use nitrous oxide while we numb you with Lidocaine and also while you receive the stitches. This really helps with needle phobia too!

How will I feel while I am using nitrous oxide?

You might feel drowsy, lightheaded, or a little silly like you have a “buzz” while you are using nitrous oxide. This is why it got the name laughing gas. These are common side effects that should go away quickly when you stop breathing the gas.

Does nitrous oxide have any bad side effects?

You can pass out for a minute if you take in too much gas. For this reason, you should be the only person controlling the amount of gas you receive. When you are the only person holding the mask or mouthpiece, your hand will slip away from the mask or mouthpiece, and you will no longer breathe in the gas if you start to get sleepy. This protects you from passing out. . Some women feel nauseous and medication can be given to make the nausea go away if needed. Rarely, women say they feel restless or confused at times.

Does nitrous oxide affect my baby?

Nitrous oxide is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from your body through your lungs. As soon as you pull the mask away, the effect of breathing the gas is gone within a few breaths. No extra monitoring is needed for you or the baby because you are using nitrous oxide. If you get too sleepy, a pulse oximeter can be used to check your oxygen levels. This is very easy to do at West Houston Birth Center and it involves putting a monitor on your finger to check your oxygen levels.

How much does it cost?

Our fee is $200 and is for unlimited usage during labor.