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Our new Your Choices Blog Feature discusses your options for pregnancy, labor and birth using the B.R.A.I.N. Acronym. You can download a printable version of our Using Your Brain Handout HERE.

​​Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is used frequently in Calgary hospitals. It be may offered to birthing people that would like a little extra pain relief in the second stage of labor, while pushing.  Nitrous oxide is generally safe for use throughout labor but like any medical intervention, it has some risks. We recommend our clients use the B.R.A.I.N. acronym to weigh the risks and benefits of their choices in labor. Let’s have a look at the positives and negatives of nitrous oxide use for pain and anxiety relief during labor and birth:

In Calgary, nitrous oxide is administered in a 50/50 blend with oxygen. It is used by breathing deeply through a mask. Some people find it really takes the edge off the intensity of labor and others find it is not for them. If laughing gas is something you might like to try during labor you will need to let your doctor or nurses know. We recommend you discuss the risks and benefits of any drug or intervention with your primary care provider.


  • does not effect the release of oxytocin, therefore it will not disrupt the progress of your labor
  • will not make the infant sleepy after birth
  • does not interfere with breastfeeding
  • there is no associated risk of infant resuscitation being necessary
  • may help the birthing person to relax and reduce awareness of labor pains
  • is easily self administered or discontinued


Possible side effects include:

  • sedation
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Studies have shown repeated occupational exposure to nitrous oxide may cause reproduction challenges for healthcare workers. One study where pregnant people had been given 100% concentration doses of nitrous oxide indicated an association between it’s use and amphetamine addiction later in life.

​People who have had recent ear surgery or have a vitamin B-12 deficiency should not use nitrous oxide.


Calgarians have many option for pain relief during labor and birth. Epidurals, Morphine, and Demerol are common pharmacological choices for pain relief. Other options include the use of hydrotherapy such as taking a bath, or using a shower and  directing the spray to sensitive areas, aromatherapy, massage, rebozo techniques, position changes, and so much more. The options are really endless. Everyone is different and what one prefers during labor may be different from what is preferred in day to day life. Talk to your primary care provider (and your doula) about your options!


When choosing pain relief options, listen to your intuition. Talk to your partner. It is not uncommon for people to use laughing gas for a period of time and then move on to another option. This is definitely not a part of the B.R.A.I.N. process that anyone other than your partner can assist you with.


When considering using nitrous oxide you may decide to wait another contraction or two. Maybe you want to see how you feel in 15 minutes, discuss it with your partner or think it over.  If you do decide to use nitrous oxide and then change your mind, you can stop using it and the effects should dissipate withing about 5 minutes.
There are so many options available to parents when having a baby. At Chinook City Doulas, we support your choices and can provide you with the information you need to make the right decision for your family, at your request. Contact us us today to meet with a doula.
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