TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It provides a popular method of pain relief during labor. TENS uses 4 pads on your lower back to send gentle electric pulses. You'll feel a tingling sensation on your skin.
By delivering gentle electrical impulses, the TENS machine helps to interrupt pain signals and provide pain relief. This natural pain relief method eases childbirth pain without causing major side effects.
TENS labor units work by stimulating the body's natural pain-blocking mechanisms, offering expectant mothers an alternative to medication. TENS units help manage pain during labor. They have adjustable settings and a boost button for stronger relief. Many people find them effective and empowering.
Through a control device that you can hang with a cord around your neck, you yourself are in charge. People use TENS units also for certain types of chronic pain, including neck pain, not just for labor. Consult your healthcare professional for more information to see if this could be relevant for you.
The TENS Unit is Easy to Use
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 third one said: "it distracted me through every contraction".
Choosing pain medication during labor, such as an epidural, can restrict your ability to move if you desire a natural birth. Only a few hospitals do have Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas). Another possibility is the use of Nubain / Fentanyl / Demerol, but these make you and your baby drowsy. A TENS device may be a good idea as it provides you the option to stay more in control.
Here are simple steps for using a TENS machine during labor. Also, watch the video below for more information. It is very simple!
Before placing the pads on your back, check that you have turned off the machine.
Put two electrode pads on each side of your spinal cord, positioning them at the level of your bra strap.
Place the other two lower down, at about the level of the dimples on your lower back, just above your bottom.
Switch the machine on, starting with the controls at the lowest setting.
Use the boost button at the peak of each contraction.
Remember to turn off the boost button again when the contraction has ended.
Moving around during labor helps you to feel in control and will make the TENS more effective.
If the pads become less sticky, add a few drops of water to the gel side before reapplying them.
If you don’t think the pads are helping you after a while, take them off. You are in control of your labor and what is working for you.
All other forms of pain relief, both medical and non-medical, are still open to you.
We see a TENS 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!