Laughing gas can help women manage labor pain
Banner Health hospitals pilot Nitrous Oxide to reduce pain for laboring women
“The beauty of using laughing gas is as you breathe it in it sends a message to your brain to relax your muscles,” Tussey said.


PHOENIX (Sept. 1, 2017) – For decades, laughing gas has been used for pain relief. But as women began to favor more potent pain relievers like an epidural, its popularity declined. Now the gas is making a comeback in the U.S. as women are opting for a more natural birth experience or who are not able to receive an epidural.

“More often we’re seeing that women want to walk around or move while they labor,” said Christina Tussey, Clinical Nurse Educator at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. “But if they have an epidural, they are bed-bound. By offering laughing gas, mothers can find relief from the labor pain but still be in full control should they choose to find different positions while in labor.”

Banner Health began offering a 50/50 blend of nitrous oxide and oxygen earlier this year at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and Banner Ironwood Medical Center. The gas is set up on a cart with a breathing mask that is wheeled to the patient’s bedside. It is self-administered by the patient, safe to use as much or as little as needed to control the pain.

“The beauty of using laughing gas is as you breathe it in it sends a message to your brain to relax your muscles,” Tussey said. “It never enters the blood stream and clears your body in just minutes with no side effects to the baby.”

Most patients are eligible for Nitrous Oxide and still able to request an epidural if needed as labor progresses. For more information, ask your doctor if this option might be right for you.

Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit


Editor’s note: Patients that used laughing gas during labor and medical experts are availabile for interivew. Please contact Jen Fenter to coordinate interview opportunities.