Rose knows what moms want, and now Rose Babies is excited to offer nitrous oxide as a pain relief option for our expectant moms during labor!

Please review our FAQs about nitrous.

Frequently asked questions about nitrous oxide

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas also known as “laughing gas.” It is used to provide pain relief and was first used during labor in the 1930s. When used during labor, its concentration is much lower than in other settings (such as at the dentist) with a mixture of a 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen.

How does nitrous oxide work to manage pain during labor?

As soon as you begin to feel a contraction coming, you will breathe in the gas mixture through a mask. The gas should reach its peak effect at about the same time the contraction reaches its peak, therefore providing the greatest relief.

Will using nitrous oxide change how long my labor will last before delivering?

Nitrous oxide has no effect on the length of someone’s labor.

Will my OB provider (OB/GYN or Midwife) be administering the nitrous?

You hold your own mask, so you will decide when to use it and how much gas you need. However, you must be able to hold the mask on your own your OB/GYN, midwife, nurse or support person may not help you hold the mask at any time. Once you decide you want to use nitrous oxide, your OB provider will order it and a member of our anesthesia team will come to your room, set it up, and teach you how to use it.

How will I feel when I am using nitrous oxide?

It varies by every person. Nitrous oxide tends to make patients care less about their pain. Some women say it “takes the edge off” the pain of labor. It also can lower anxiety, therefore helping laboring moms cope and feel less tense. Some women have reported nausea after prolonged use. There are medications to help ease the nausea if that happens. Nitrous oxide may also cause some dizziness or light headedness. Side effects go away quickly as soon as you stop breathing the gas.

Can I be out of bed and use nitrous oxide?

As long as you are steady on your feet and have your support person present, you may use nitrous oxide while standing at the bedside or when using a birthing ball. However, you will need to stay where the equipment can remain plugged into the wall. If you are unsteady on your feet, your nurse may ask that you stay in your bed or a chair during use. Please ask your nurse for assistance the first time you would like to get out of bed while using nitrous oxide.

Can I use nitrous in the Rose Babies Birth Center?

Unfortunately no. The Rose Babies Birth Center is a low-intervention birthplace, meaning very minimal clinical interventions during labor as long as mom and baby are healthy. Laboring moms using nitrous need to be on continual fetal monitoring, which is not offered in the Rose Babies Birth Center as part of the low-intervention experience.

However, if you deliver in the Rose Babies Birth Center and are in need of stitches after delivery, you may use nitrous as a pain relief during that stage of recovery.

Can I use other pain relief options at the same time as nitrous oxide?

Nitrous may not be used together with other pain relief options. You may decide to start with nitrous and later move to a different type of pain relief. Once you discontinue use of nitrous oxide, you may receive intravenous (IV) narcotics or epidural anesthesia within five minutes. However, if you received a dose of IV narcotics earlier in your labor, you will need to wait two hours before you can start nitrous oxide. We recommend discussing your pain relief options with your OB provider during your pre-natal visits as well as discussing during your Your Rose Baby appointment.

Will nitrous oxide affect my baby?

There are no known effects on the baby. Nitrous is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body through the lungs, so as soon as you stop breathing the gas, the nitrous effect is gone within a minute or two.