What is a TENS machine?
A TENS machine, or TENS unit, is a simple device that you can use in labour to reduce the sensation of pain, and so it can help you have a natural birth. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. You place these sticky electrical pads on your skin, and it delivers tiny electrical stimulation to the nerves. It is used by physiotherapists for pain relief of various kinds – muscle aches, migraines, back ache, injuries, and pretty much any pain, whether accute or chronic. For decades now, it has also been used for labour pain.
How is a TENS machine used in labour?
The sticky pads are place on the back in early labour, or near the start of active labour. It takes an hour or two to build up in effectiveness. It works for natural pain relief using the Gateway Theory of Pain – the stimulus to the sensation nerves blocks out some of the pain nerves because the brain can only process a certain amount of stimulation from the nerves before it starts to block out some out. About 80% of moms in labour who use a TENS machine say it helped them reduce and cope with the pain.
There are several brands of TENS machines. The most common one used for labour is the Elle TENS machine which has a Boost button to increase and change the pulse during contractions.
Are there risks or side-effects?
There are no risks or side effects except that you obviously can’t use it in the shower or bath. It is also not recommended if mom has a pacemaker. It should also not be used on the abdomen during pregnancy. It should be placed on the back.
Because it can be an effective method of pain coping in labour, with no side effects, it makes an excellent tool to have if you want a natural birth.
How to get one in Surrey or Langley?
If you want to have a TENS unit for labour, you have to get it before hand. Hospitals do not have TENS units available, although it would be great if they did. You can either buy one or rent one, or if you have me as your doula, you will have access to mine. To find out about how doula support can help you click on Doula Support.
If you are in Surrey, Langley or surrounding areas, you can rent a TENS unit from me for up to 5 weeks. The fee is $90 and includes 2 sets of electrical sticky pads. You can call me at 604 809 3288 or email me at email@example.com.
604 809 3288 or firstname.lastname@example.org