Nitrous Oxide for Labor Pain

When it comes to pain and discomfort during labor, each woman manages pain differently with a wide range of comfort measures and treatments.

One such treatment is the use of Nitrous Oxide to alleviate discomfort during labor. 

Nitrous Oxide use has gathered controversy as more women advocate for drug-free alternatives for comforting labor pains. 

As your due date approaches, our team encourages you and your partner to research different pain management techniques to find what is a right fit for you. 

Like any medical intervention for pain management, Nitrous Oxide has it's share of pros and cons. Nitrous is considered overall a safe way for mothers in labor to manage their discomfort. In high doses, Nitrous Oxide is a fairly weak anesthetic and it is more effective when administered in minimal amounts to the patient. 

Nitrous Oxide is a unique helping hand in the delivery room, offering both an analgesic (pain reliever) and an anxiolytic (anxiety relief). 

Benefits of Nitrous Oxide During Labor

Nitrous Oxide use does not physically injure the mother, fetus or neonate and does not pose harmful health hazards for care givers. This inhaled treatment does not affect the progression of labor and is safe and painless to administer.

Nitrous doesn't affect the levels of oxytocin, therefore does not affect infant alertness, mother and baby bonding or successful breastfeeding. This pain relief does not completely remove the mother from the awareness of labor pain and discomfort, however many women report an easier labor transition and managing their own discomfort. 

Nitrous Oxide is self administered, putting a mother in control of her pain management. It takes between five and ten minutes for the effects of the Nitrous Oxide to minimize, giving mom the opportunity to switch to a different pain relief if necessary.

Risks of Nitrous Oxide During Labor

While safety standards are in place to monitor the levels of Nitrous Oxide, excessive doses may cause symptoms like dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. Health care personnel working with Nitrous Oxide on a regular basis without proper handling procedures in place could begin to notice disruptions in their reproductive health. 

These risks however are in majority associated with recreational Nitrous users that abuse the substance. The percentage of Nitrous Oxide available as a labor pain treatment has too low of a percentage to notice any adverse effects, making this option safe and recommended by birth professionals. 

When it comes to pain management during labor, a mother should feel confident they are receiving the pain relief that they feel completely comfortable using. 

During your pregnancy, visit your hospital or birthing center and ask questions about your options for pain relief and educate yourself on side effects, benefits and risks associated with each. Making an educated decision for your birth will empower you to proceed to your due date confidently. 

Many hospitals in Maine, New Hampshire and MA are utilizing Nitrous Oxide including Maine General, Midcoast, Wentworth Douglas, York and now Maine Medical Center.

Your labor doula is there to ensure your birth plan is carried out according to your family's individual wishes and she is there to answer any questions you have along the way. 

Your birth. Your pain management. Unbiased support.