Gas and air: natural pain relief during labour

by Christie Mudie |

If you're looking for a more natural pain relief during labour, you might want to consider gas and air, or as it's medically referred to - Entonox.

Entonox, also known as gas and air, is the most popular pain relief during labour with around 80 per cent of women choosing to use it. They must be on to something, right?

What is Entonox?

Entonox is an odourless gas made up of half oxygen and half nitrous oxide that will provide you with good pain relief during labour. It’s also known as laughing gas, and it has a calming effect that will help you cope with contractions. You inhale it through a mouthpiece, or a mask, which you will be in control of throughout your labour.

When would you use it?

You can use gas and air whenever you want once you are in labour. Gas and air is easy to use. Simply put the mouthpiece between your lips or teeth and breathe deeply and evenly until you feel slightly light headed then take it away.
Biting down on the mouthpiece can also help you cope with the pain of contractions. After a few seconds, you’ll feel normal again.

The benefits of gas and air

  • You can have gas and air when, and as much, as you want during labour.

  • It is a fast-acting way of relieving your labour pains.

  • It's completely safe for your baby and the extra oxygen you breathe in can actually be good for you and your baby.

  • You are completely in control of when you use it.

  • It won’t stay in your system. As soon as you stop breathing it in, it’s cleared by your lungs and any side-effects you might feel will stop.

  • If you want to feel your birth, and know when to push, gas and air will take the edge of your pains rather than blocking it out completely.

The cons

  • It is quite a mild pain relief, compared with epidural, and you may find you want something stronger

  • It can cause you to feel drowsy and sick, and make your mouth feel dry if you use it for long periods of time

  • It takes around 30 seconds of breathing for the gas and air to get into your system so it might take you a while to get the timing right so that it's effective at the peak of your contractions.

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