How it works


Nitrous oxide is self-administered and inhaled through a mask in safe concentrations. Because you have control over when you breathe it in, it’s up to you how much of the medicine you take in.

Talk with your doctor or nurse about adding nitrous oxide to your birth plan.

When Is Nitrous Oxide Used?


Nitrous oxide can be used:

  • as an alternative to an epidural or IV pain medication if you prefer a more natural childbirth experience

  • before you would start an epidural or IV pain medication

  • after birth for comfort and relaxation while your care team evaluates or repairs the perineum 


  • Mobility. Unlike with an epidural or IV pain medication, you are free to be up and move around while using nitrous oxide.

  • Quick to start and stop. The effects of nitrous oxide are felt shortly after breathing in the medicine. Likewise, the effects fade after a few minutes, if you prefer to stop its use.

  • Limited side effects. There are no proven side effects for your baby, and few side effects for mom. While an epidural or IV pain medication may cause drowsiness, because nitrous oxide wears off quickly, you will be more present for the birth experience.