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Nitrous Oxide Pain Relief for Childbirth

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Nitrous Oxide Pain Relief for Childbirth


Nitrous oxide is a gas that is sometimes used during childbirth to help relieve pain. It won't put you to sleep. It may be used with other pain relief options.

How is it given?

You'll get a mouthpiece or mask to breath in the nitrous oxide when you need it. You should feel the effects soon after taking it. Because it can take almost a minute to start working, you'll want to use it before you feel a contraction. The effects will go away soon after you stop the nitrous.

What should you tell your doctor?

Tell your doctor about your health history. Let them know if you or a family member has had problems with anesthesia in the past. You can also talk to the doctor about medical and nonmedical pain relief options for childbirth. Plan for what you want. But be aware that things can change during labor.

Depending on your health conditions, your doctor may want to have an epidural catheter placed early in labor. This would only be used if needed. For example, you may plan to use nonmedical pain relief but then decide later that you want medicines. Or the catheter would be used to give you anesthesia if you need a cesarean (C-section) for your or your baby's health and safety.

What are the risks?

Major problems aren't common. But some side effects can occur. These may include dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Or you may get sleepy if the nitrous oxide is used with certain other medicines. Also, it may not give enough pain relief.


Current as of: June 27, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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