The Family Birthplace

Compassionate, Expert Care with Alternative Birthing Options

At the Irvin & Margaret Houck Family Birthplace, you, your family, and your new baby will be treated with the utmost care and compassion by skilled doctors and specialists. Our Alternative Birthing Center offers parents a variety of choices to manage their delivery, including water for labor and birth. You’ll be surrounded in a home-like setting with a queen-size bed for family bonding, along with many amenities, like a television, refrigerator, and microwave, to make everyone feel more at ease.

West Suburban Medical Center has been named to Newsweek’s 2021 list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals. This designation means our maternity care program is now ranked among the best in the United States, and as one of the top three in Illinois, as verified by the 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Learn about the Best Maternity Hospitals ranking.


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Learn more about The Family Birthplace or register for our education programs.

(866) 938-7256

West Suburban Medical Center
3 Erie Court
Oak Park, IL 60302

Patient Stories

Katherine's Experience

Nicole's Experience

Katy's Experience

Alternative Birthing Center. Your Baby, Your Way!

To make an appointment with a physician, or to register for our pre-natal classes and orientation, please call (866) 938-7256.

At the Alternative Birth Center, we put the parents in control of their birthing experience. Many birthing parents prefer natural childbirth in the company of family. The Alternative Birthing Center provides families with the room and resources to create a welcoming, home-like setting for natural childbirth.

Please join one of our orientation classes to learn more and find out why modern parents are choosing our midwife-led and physician-supervised alternative birthing options. Orientation classes are led by the renowned doula (birthing coach) Pamela Hays on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the West Suburban Medical Center Labor & Delivery Classroom on the 6th floor in the hospital.

West Suburban Medical Center provides comprehensive obstetrical care supported by additional neonatal expert care from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.


West Suburban Medical Center’s midwifery services is one of the largest in the area. Our certified nurse-midwives are accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives and offer a wide range of gynecologic care and birthing options.

Nitrous Oxide Use for Labor and Birth

Frequently Asked Questions

West Suburban Medical Center is proud to be one of the first hospitals in  Chicagoland to make this option available.

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas, has been used for pain relief during dental procedures since the mid-19th century. In the 20th century, its use also became common in childbirth, but lost popularity in the U.S. with the development of other pain control options.

The gas is still commonly used as labor analgesic in Canada and many European countries, and it is slowly returning to U.S. hospitals as more and more birthing parents seek to control labor pain in a less invasive way than epidural anesthesia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved new nitrous oxide equipment for childbirth use in 2011, which may also explain its revival.

Nitrous oxide used for labor pain is a mixture of 50 percent nitrous gas and 50% oxygen, which birthing parents self-administer (inhale) through a mask or mouthpiece. While the pain may still exist for some patients, the gas should decrease the intensity.

In addition to the gas being a less-invasive option, it also offers significant cost savings to patients. The average cost for nitrous oxide is roughly only 3-5% of the cost of an epidural anesthesia fees.

How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

A patient holds their own mask or mouthpiece and begins to inhale the gas mixture about 30 seconds before a contraction begins. This method allows for the gas to reach its peak effect at the same time as the contraction reaches its peak, hence providing the greatest pain relief.

Does it require extra fetal monitoring?

There is no additional fetal monitoring required when using nitrous oxide.

Is there a need for an IV?

No. It is not necessary to have an IV inserted to use nitrous oxide.

Can nitrous oxide and intravenous narcotics be used at the same time?

Birthing parents who have received IV narcotics, need to wait two hours before using nitrous oxide. Patients who are using nitrous oxide and choose to use IV medications, will need to wait 15 minutes before those can be administered.

Can nitrous oxide be used while in the tub?

No, nitrous oxide cannot be used while in the tub. However, birthing parents can get into the tub 15 minutes after the last time nitrous oxide was inhaled.

Are there any reasons a birthing parent would not be able to use nitrous oxide?

Yes: nitrous oxide may not be used if the patient:

  • cannot hold their own mouthpiece or facemask; or
  • has received a dose of narcotic in the past two hours; or
  • has pernicious anemia or a B12 deficiency, for which they are taking B12 supplements

Does nitrous oxide affect the baby in any way?

No, nitrous oxide does not affect the baby. It is the only pain relief method used for labor that is cleared from the body through the lungs, so as soon as the birthing parent pulls the mask away, the nitrous effect is gone within a breath or two.

Does a birthing parent need to choose between either using nitrous oxide OR having epidural anesthesia?

No; some birthing parents choose to use nitrous oxide before epidural anesthesia. Although they would not be used together, patients can use nitrous oxide first and move on to a different type of pain relief as labor pain progresses.

West Suburban Medical Center Supports Breastfeeding

Questions about breastfeeding, or want tips from our lactation support team? 

West Suburban Medical Center offers breastfeeding support groups and classes. All moms and babies are welcome!

Learn more