Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) units provide a non-pharmacological pain relief option. It works by placing 4 electrode pads on your lower back. These pads send mild electrical pulses through the skin. Many women find it to be soothing and distracting from the sensations of contractions. Through a device that hangs around your neck, you yourself are in charge. The TENS Unit releases a low-frequency electric current through the skin which stimulates your body’s endorphins. You can increase the continued setting and give yourself a BOOST when having a contraction. When these sensory nerves are stimulated they naturally block the body’s ability to perceive pain and help to release your own natural painkiller. This technique is called the “pain gateway theory”.
Most of our clients LOVE the TENS! Clients that used the TENS machine said it was definitely helpful. Some said: "I don't know what I could have done without it", another one had Prodromal labor and used it already for a few days. The 3rd one said: "it distracted me through every contraction".
If you plan for an unmedicated birth and you change your mind during labor, an epidural is an option, which makes you hooked to the bed. Only a few hospitals do have Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) and another possibility is the use of Nubain/Fentanyl/Demerol which makes you and your baby drowsy.
Many clients like to be in control. A TENS Unit gives you some control. And, you can still move around.
We see a TENS Unit as a tool in the toolbox. We have had clients who eventually choose for an epidural but because of using the TENS Unit, they could delay it.
A Clients Feedback:
"We ended up borrowing a TENS unit last minute while I was already in labor at the hospital. I’d been laboring for several hours without one, so when it arrived I could feel the difference. As I felt a contraction begin to rise, I turned up the intensity on the TENS, which distracted me from other sensations. One other bonus was that I didn’t have to use words to communicate that another contraction was coming: as I reached for the remote Doula Nathalie and my husband knew it was time for their support again. Having the TENS prolonged the time I was able to labor upright before getting the epidural. I’ll absolutely plan on having one at my next birth".
"The TENS Unit was amazing for my early labor experience. The stimulation helped negate the pain of my contractions and really felt nice. I was able to control the intensity of the stimulation depending on how intense my contractions were, which also was a huge plus since each one was different. As the contractions grew in intensity, I could adjust accordingly. A small price to pay for comfort and control during the marathon of labor!"
During labor the TENS Unit was the most valuable tool in my labor toolbox. I had an induction, and the TENS Unit was fantastic since it mitigated the pain and gave me something to focus on during the contractions. I had never used a TENS Unit before labor, but it was very simple to figure out and use. I highly recommend the device and can’t imagine going through labor without it!