Use of Nitrogen Oxide Gas During Labor

As your due date approaches, there are myriads of thoughts and questions that you may want to know about the labor process. This is especially if you are a first-time mum. ‘How painful is the labor process?’ is one of the questions that most mums-to-be ask. In your research, you might have come across the nitrogen oxide gas which is used to relieve pain during labor. This is a breathable gas that when combined with oxygen can help relieve pain during labor. Below is more information about the use of nitrogen oxide gas during labor.

What is Gas?

In labor, gas is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide. This is also known as laughing gas or entonox. It helps relieve pain during labor and interferes with your body’s stress response, thus reducing anxiety. Laughing gas is inhaled using a mask or mouthpiece that is connected to the gas supply by a tube. Generally, most women inhale the gas during contractions. However, since it takes some time before it starts working, it is advisable to start inhaling it as soon as contractions begin. You can continue breathing in the gas for as long as you want since it is safe for you and the baby. 

Advantages Of Using Gas During Labor

Considering that laughing gas has low potency, it remains safe to both the mother and the baby when used. Some of the advantages you enjoy when using laughing gas during labor are such as: 

  • It does not remain in your body for long 
  • You get to have a vaginal delivery without much pain 
  • You can change positions in between contractions 
  • You are in a position to breathe rhythmically
  • You can use it at any stage of labor
  • It does not affect your baby 

Disadvantages Of Using Laughing Gas

Like any other medical interventions, use of laughing gas during labor does have some risks and disadvantages. They include: 

  • Feeling drowsy if used by someone using other drugs such as pethidine
  • It may fail to work in some women whereby it barely only decreases the pain. 


Luckily, gas does not affect the baby in any way. However, it may affect the mother in several ways such as nausea and vomiting or feeling dizzy and light headed. Inhaling a lot of the gas may at worst cause you to be unconscious. It is possible to avoid severe effects by holding the mask on your own.

Where to get it

Gas is not common to all birthing centers. In fact, it is currently only available at the Aga Khan University  Hospital, Nairobi. 


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: kenyayote, safebirthproject, bellybelly, whattoexpect, pregnancybirthbaby, mamanatural

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