What is nitrous?
Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that relieves pain and anxiety. It is also called laughing gas. When it is used for labor pain it is a set mixture of 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen that is inhaled through a mask. Nitrous oxide has been used in labor since the 1930s and is widely used in Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe.
How does it work?
You hold the mask to your face and start to inhale the gas mixture 30 seconds before a contraction begins. You inhale the gas only when you’re having a contraction, so it is intermittent not continuous.
How will I feel?
Most women report it “takes the edge off” the pain and helps them cope better with contractions. You will still feel pain but you may not care as much about it. Some women feel more relaxed or sleepy because nitrous decreases anxiety. You will stay awake and be able to walk and talk.
Are there side effects?
The most common side effects are feeling lightheaded, dizziness, and nausea. It is important to have someone with you when you’re getting up to move around. There is anti-nausea medicine available if needed.