Trending Now: Nitrous Oxide for Relief During Labor Helps

{Disclosure: Our partners at Fairview Health Services are here to answer questions about a popular new pain relief option during childbirth: nitrous oxide. Learn from Darlene Spiegelberg, MAN, BSN, RN, Nursing Director of Fairview Southdale Hospital about nitrous oxide and how it can be used as a middle ground for pain relief.}

Trending Now: Nitrous Oxide for Relief During Labor Helps | Twin Cities Moms Blog

It’s no secret that with the joy of welcoming a new baby, comes pain, as in the pain of childbirth. As a nurse and director of The Birthplace at Fairview Southdale Hospital, one of my jobs is to help women be as comfortable as possible during labor and delivery. A new option, nitrous oxide, is quickly become popular with our moms.

Most people think of nitrous gas, or laughing gas, as something their dentist uses. But for women in labor, it can be a nice middle ground for pain relief, meaning you’ll receive some relief, but it is not as strong as an epidural.

Here’s some answers to questions we get asked a lot at The Birthplace:

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a gas, often used for anesthesia during surgery. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Nitrous oxide helps to relieve pain and reduce anxiety.

When is it used?

It can be used at any stage of labor and delivery but is especially useful during a rapid labor, transition, delivery labor or during the suturing of the perineum. It also can help if you are waiting for an epidural.

How does it work?

Nitrous oxide will make you feel more relaxed, but not numb. You have complete control over the administration of the gas by placing a mask over your nose and mouth, breathing in nitrous oxide, and exhaling into the mask. Breathing in nitrous oxide about 30 seconds before a contraction will give you optimal relief. For some women, it provides enough pain relief during their entire labor and delivery. For others, it may delay the need for an epidural. Nitrous oxide can be used right up to the birth of your baby.

Is nitrous oxide safe for me and my baby?

Yes. It does not affect the progress of labor, and because it leaves your body so quickly, nitrous oxide has been shown to have little or no effect on your infant.

Can I use an epidural and nitrous oxide?

Not at the same time. You may use nitrous oxide until placement of an epidural.

Do doctors and midwives recommend it?
Yes. Our care teams at all Fairview hospitals are excited to be able to nitrous oxide. Here’s what one doctor told me: “Women are looking for different ways to have the kind of birth experience they desire,” said Elisa Wright, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates, P.A. “At Fairview Southdale Hospital, we strive to make sure patients have a safe, yet enjoyable, experience of birth. Providing options regarding pain control goes a long way to accomplishing this.”

Debra L. Stealey CNM, MS, a midwife with Associates in Women’s Health, added. “I’m happy for the return of nitrous oxide! It has a long history of safe use for more than 50 years. I think nitrous oxide is not just an option for women who are planning a low intervention birth, but it also is wonderful for women who medically are not able to have pain medication or for those who are not candidates for epidural anesthesia.”

Are there any side effects with nitrous oxide?

Side effects are few, but you might feel a little dizzy, euphoric or experience nausea. Nitrous oxide does not slow down labor.

Are there any women who can’t use nitrous oxide?

Yes, there are factors that could make nitrous oxide unsafe for some women. Your physician can help decide if nitrous oxide is right for you.

Do all Fairview locations offer nitrous oxide?

Yes, you’ll find nitrous oxide as an option at all of The Birthplaces at Fairview locations, including Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing and the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Learn more about The Birthplaces at Fairview and all the services they provide at

One Response to Trending Now: Nitrous Oxide for Relief During Labor Helps

  1. Shari Caradorii August 15, 2016 at 5:03 PM #

    I had gas with mt daughter’s birth at Fairveiw Riverside and it was the best pain management that I’ve ever had. Apparently I have a really high tolerance for medications, so nothing had given me any relief in 3 previous deliveries, not even an epidural. I would recommend it to anyone as much safer than other alternatives. I had a midwife and this fit so much better with my idea of less interference and natural childbirth. It just takes the edge off and lets you rest between contractions. My labor are 30-40 hours long so I really need to rest and relax between pains so that I can keep dilating and not tense up. So happy they are bringing this back again!

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