Medical Pain Management Series: Nitrous and Analgesics

February 20, 2022
by Alex Barr
Medical Pain Management Series: Nitrous and Analgesics

Nitrous and Analgesics

CW: description of pain medication

In this series we are talking about the different types of medical pain management that are available in birth.


Nitrous oxide is a tasteless and odorless gas used as a labor analgesic by some hospitals.
It reduces anxiety and increases a feeling of well-being so that pain is easier to deal with.
Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a mask.
You hold the mask yourself and decide when you will inhale.
It works best when you begin inhaling 30 seconds before the start of a contraction.

Nitrous oxide is safe for the birther and the baby.
Some people feel dizzy or nauseated while inhaling nitrous oxide, but these sensations go away within a few minutes.

System Analgesics also known as Opioids

Systemic analgesics reduce your awareness of pain and have a calming effect.
The medications used are known as opioids.
These drugs will not cause you to lose consciousness.
Systemic analgesics usually are given as a shot or through an intravenous (IV) line. This is a small tube that is placed into a vein through which medications or fluids are given.

Side effects are minor and include itching, nausea, vomiting, feeling drowsy, or having trouble concentrating.
Opioids can affect your baby’s breathing and heart rate for a short time.
Your baby may be drowsy, which can make it harder for your baby to breastfeed in the first few hours after birth.
You may not be able to get systemic analgesics within the hour before delivery.