A St. Luke's nurse talking to patient about nitrous oxide.

Using Nitrous Oxide During Labor and Delivery

Great news, moms-to-be: we have another pain management option for your labor and delivery at St. Luke’s!

Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas or N20) is a pain management option that you administer yourself during any part of labor. It can help you cope with pain, anxiety or apprehension. Plus, it’s completely safe for baby.

Here are some common questions we get about it.

A St. Luke's nurse talking to patient about nitrous oxide.

What’s in nitrous oxide?

This gas is composed of 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen.

How do you use it during labor?

We’ll give you a mask that you can hold over your nose and mouth. Before a contraction, you’ll inhale with the mask over your nose and mouth for 30-60 seconds. You can continue to breath in the gas throughout the contraction.

Throughout your entire labor, you’ll be in control of how much nitrous oxide you’re breathing in.

What does it feel like?

Technically, laughing gas does not block labor pains. It also doesn’t make you laugh like crazy. Instead, it slows your nervous system causing you to feel less inhibited and creating a sense of pleasant wellbeing. This helps women relax, which can minimize the pains of labor.

Will laughing gas affect my baby?

Not at all. Nitrous oxide is an extremely fast-acting agent and completely clears out of your system in seconds, with no effect on your baby. It also does not affect breastfeeding after delivery.

Can I use laughing gas instead of getting an epidural?

Yes. If you do not want to get an epidural, nitrous oxide is a less-invasive alternative to pain management.

Patient smiling at nurse, learning about Nitrous Oxide during labor and delivery.

Labor and delivery in Duluth, MN

Remember, nitrous oxide is just one pain management option at St. Luke’s. Our priority is to provide you with the pregnancy and birthing experience you want. So, whether it’s an epidural or a natural birth, you get to make that decision.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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