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Nitrous oxide use in labor and delivery

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is a mix of 50% nitrous and 50% oxygen that is inhaled.

Benefits and Advantages of Nitrous Oxide

  • Self-administered
  • Easy to use
  • Takes effect quickly
  • Quick recovery
  • Can be used at any time right up until the birth
  • Can move around with assistance
  • Does not slow down the labor progress or pushing

Q: How does it work?

A: Nitrous oxide works by increasing endorphins, dopamine, and other natural chemicals in the brain while also decreasing the release of cortisol. The patient manages their own pain control by placing the mask on their face during a contraction, to help relieve pain and anxiety. Are there side effects for me or my baby? Some women may experience nausea or dizziness. There are no known side effects for your baby. Nitrous oxide is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body through the lungs. As soon as the mask is pulled away, the nitrous effect is gone after a couple of breaths.

Q: Am I eligible?

A: Not everyone is a candidate for nitrous oxide use. A few reasons someone may not be eligible include:

  • You received a dose of narcotics in the past two hours
  • You cannot hold your own face mask
  • You are being treated for pernicious anemia
  • You have a B12 deficiency for which you take B12 supplements

Q: Can I be up out of bed while using nitrous?

A: Yes, as long as you are steady on your feet.

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