As you prepare for your baby’s arrival, it is important to know what your options are for natural and medicinal pain relief. One of the options that you may not already be aware of is nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide, when used in a higher dosage, is a light anesthetic. In lesser dosages, this compound can be used to aid with anxiety disorders and pain relief. Because of its versatility, nitrous oxide is quickly becoming one of the most popular and safe anesthetic options for women in labor. Many nations with vigorous healthcare standards have elected to use this compound in a blend of 50% oxygen and 50% nitrous oxide, finding these ratios to be the most beneficial in relieving women’s’ labor pains.
Some of the benefits of nitrous oxide include that it is safe for the mother and the fetus, it does not prevent oxytocin from being released, it does not affect breastfeeding, and it does not affect the infant in the early stages of bonding. Of course, like any other pain reliever, it does come with some potential risks. Some of these risks include dizziness, sedation, nausea, and vomiting. If used in extremely high concentrations (near 100%), there is also the potential for addiction, though this is highly unlikely considering that most nitrous oxide is used in a concentration of only 50%. Nitrous oxide as an anesthetic is associated with more risks; however, that is clearly not the typical use when discussing labor; and therefore, these risks are focused on the potential harms of nitrous oxide when used for pain relief.
These factors are important to keep in mind when choosing whether or not to use nitrous oxide during labor. Make sure to consult your delivery team to talk through your different options for pain relief and weigh the pros and cons of each one.
If you’d like to learn more about nitrous oxide, please check out the link below: