Nitrous Oxide (N.O., a.k.a. laughing gas) is almost non-existent in the U.S. when it comes to delivery, but is almost universally available in Canada and in England - underscoring the fact that cultural differences can influence medical decisions. NO is virtually risk-free and is thought to be a great adjunct to other pain remedies by helping you get through some of the really difficult contractions. You can ask for it, but may not get it, as many hospitals have a bias against it (that fear was based largely on the hypothesis that it could cause oversedation and create DNA replication difficulties in your newborn; those fears are now considered unfounded). Other fears that it contaminates the environment of others have been overcome with clever gas scavenging devices.
More Answers from Michael Roizen, MD