TENS is a drug-free kind of pain relief often used by women in early labour. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.
A maternity TENS machine consists of a battery-powered, hand-held controller connected by fine leads to four flat pads. The pads are covered in a firm gel that helps them stick to your back.
The machine sends small, safe pulses of electrical current via the leads to the pads on your skin. The pulses pass through your skin and into your muscles and tissues. This gives you a gentle tingling or buzzing sensation, which may be stronger or weaker, depending on the setting level.
TENS works to help you cope in labour due to a combination of factors. These include:
You can use TENS from the very beginning of your labour.
You could start using it when you’re getting regular contractions or backache. You may find that the machine works better at relieving your backache than other types of pain. This is probably because the pads are on your back.
TENS is most likely to be effective in early labour though you may still need other forms of pain relief as your labour gets stronger.
Never use a TENS machine under the following circumstances, without talking to a midwife or doctor first:
I hired a TENS unit for the birth of my little boy and would definitely recommend it. I used it in early labour once contractions became uncomfortable right up until i got to the hospital where I was 7cm.
It definitely helped me get through that early labour stage so that I didn't spend my energy worrying about early contractions and then I was in the right mindset for the harder stuff!
- Shanice Sahin
We hired a TENS Machine from Carol for my second birth as I had heard good things about them from friends.
Carol was very informative upon collecting the unit, and gave clear instructions of use. We got extra sticky pads; batteries and an information booklet upon use. It was ideal because we could collect it 2 weeks before due date; and I was able to test it out and make sure I was confident in using it before labour.
I used it from the very start of labour and found it really good; I used no other pain relief. I used it in the car to travel to the hospital; and found it a really good distraction to focus on during contractions!
Although I did not use it for the final stages of labour (as I used a birthing pool!) But I would still recommend it even just for the initial stages of labour.
- Lauren Carroll