MHP is proud to continually grow and implement new services to best serve our patients. As part of this effort, MHP Maternity Care now offers nitrous oxide as a pain management option during labor and delivery. You can learn more about this service and more, as well gather additional maternity, newborn, car seat and safety education at our upcoming Bump2Baby & Beyond maternal health fair on April 13.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide (also known as nitrous or laughing gas) is a colorless, nonflammable, tasteless, and odorless gas that can be inhaled in low-doses during labor and delivery to take the edge off the pain and anxiety. It is self-administered on-demand by the patient via a mask. The system uses a low-dose mixture of the gas, 50 percent nitrous oxide mixed with 50 percent oxygen; and usually within 15 seconds of use, women feel more relaxed. The pain will not be totally gone but will become more manageable. Our staff gives instructions on how to properly use the nitrous.

Is nitrous oxide safe?

The 50/50 mixture of gas and air has been shown to have few side effects. It has a long record of safe outcomes for both mother and baby. Both will be checked before nitrous is started and intermittently checked during labor to make sure both are well.

When can a laboring mother use nitrous?

Nitrous may be used in any stage of labor or pushing and after birth, as long both mother and the baby have been checked and remain well.

What if the patient doesn’t like it? Can they try a different pain relief?

Nitrous is very fast acting and can also be discontinued very quickly. If the mother finds that she doesn’t like it or becomes uncomfortable, she can simply stop breathing into the mask and tell the nurse she would like to stop using it. Nitrous effects go away within a few minutes of breathing regular air. If she prefers a different pain medication or an epidural, the nurse will notify the provider.

Are there any side effects?

The user may experience nausea, vomiting, or lightheadedness.

Can someone aid in the use of nitrous oxide?

No. The laboring mother is the only person controlling the amount of nitrous oxide received.

Is there any reason a patient in labor wouldn’t be able to use nitrous oxide?

It cannot be used if the mother:

• Cannot hold her own face mask

• Has a severe vitamin B12 deficiency

• Has a medical condition that may result in the health care provider advising against the use of the gas. This will be assessed during the evaluation of the mother’s medical history.

Be sure to discuss any questions about pain management during labor with your provider or nurse.