TENS is a popular method of pain relief as women aim towards drug free labour, and more control over their labour experience.
Your TENS purchase comes complete with electrode pads, 9v battery, and full user manual.
What are the benefits of TENS for labour?
- Non sedating
- Can be used at home, at hospital, as well as on the way to hospital
- Safe for mum and baby
- No negative side effects for mum or baby
- Easy to use – even in strong labour
- The unit is small and unobtrusive
- You are in control of the intensity
- You can use it as long as you like
You can take it off and put it back on as you require
You can remain active during labour
It wont interfere with the progress of your labour
Provides pain relief during home birth
Can be used for pain before labour (after 37 weeks of pregnancy)
Can be used for the birth of the placenta
Can be used for after pains in the days and weeks after birth
- Can be used in conjunction with other methods of pain relief if required (i.e. gas and air, or morphine / pethidine)
What is TENS and how does it work?
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) delivers very mild electrical impulses to the skin on the lower - mid back and works in two ways to help reduce pain in labour, the ‘Gate Theory’ of pain relief and also by increasing your body’s level of endorphin.
Malzak and Wall proposed the ‘Gate Theory’ in 1965, and it remains the most respected theory of pain perception. They showed that pain impulses could be overridden and the perception of pain could be altered. The brain can only cope with a certain amount of information at once, and ‘sensation’ messages are given priority over ‘pain’ messages. This means that the mild tingling sensation created by TENS travels quickly to the brain and the ‘pain’ messages cause by contractions during labour are reduced, meaning you experience less pain.
TENS stimulates endorphin release (the body’s natural pain killers) to help reduce pain. Endorphins are opiate – like substances, similar to morphine, but without the side effects. Endorphins are made in our bodies and produced in response to pain and act as a natural pain killer. For many women, endorphins will also positively alter the memory of their birth experience and in some cases induce and amnesic effect (forgetting the pain). Endorphins can therefore empower women and provide a positive memory of her labour and birth.
Is TENS safe?
Yes. TENS is among the safest forms of pain control available to women during childbirth and is widely recommended by midwives. There are no known negative side effects for either mum or baby.
What does it feel like?
TENS creates a mild tingly feeling on the skin. As your labour progresses and contractions become more intense you can turn the machine up which increases the intensity of the tingly sensation.
Can I use any TENS machine?
No. Neuro Trac TENS machines are specifically designed for use during labour, they are safe, effective, and easy to use during in labour. They have large electrode pads and a ‘boost button’ to provide an extra burst of pain relief during contractions. Standard TENS machines do not have these features and will not be as effective for pain relief during labour.
Some TENS machines can be hard to use during labour as they have internal menus which can be complicated to use during labour.
When can I start using my TENS?
Before labour: When you are 37 weeks pregnant you can begin to use your TENS machine for everyday aches and pains (see precautions for safe use). It is also recommended that you practice using your TENS prior to labour so that when labour starts you know how to use it, and what it feels like. This also gives your birth partner / support person a trial run at placing the electrode pads in the correct position.
During labour: TENS will be most effective if you start using it as soon as you start to feel contractions. It will start to provide pain relief from the moment you turn it on, and once you have been using TENS for an hour or so your body will start to produce higher levels of endorphin, your natural pain relieving hormone.
Can I use TENS if I want a water birth?
Yes. However you will need to take it off when you enter the water. TENS is most effective when used from the very onset of labour. Immersion in water (birth pool / bath) is generally recommended in late labour. If using both TENS and a birth pool you can continue to use your TENS until you get into the pool, and once you get out of the pool if needed.
Can I use TENS alongside medical pain relief?
Yes. TENS can be used alongside most other methods of self help pain relief methods, and can be used in conjunction with Entonox (gas and air), and opiate based pain killers such as Morphine and Pethidine.
When should I stop using my TENS?
You can continue to use your TENS machine throughout your labour, during the birth of the placenta, and for after pains which occur in the days and weeks after birth.
You should remove your TENS machine if you enter a shower / bath / birth pool.
You should discontinue use if a skin reaction develops at the site of the electrode pads (this is very uncommon).
What are the precautions?
TENS should not be used before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.
TENS should not be used by anyone with a demand type pace maker, or who has had a recent heart attack, or a serious / unstable heart condition, or by anyone who suffers from epilepsy.
TENS should not be used in the following areas: abdomen, anywhere on the head or face, across the front or side of the neck, genitals, directly over the spine (each side of the spine is perfectly safe), over broken skin or open wounds, over a malignant tumor, through the chest wall (i.e.: one electrode pad at the front of the chest and another on the back of the chest).
TENS should not be used while driving or operating heavy machinery.
TENS should not be used in or around water.
TENS can be used with caution in the following circumstances: around areas where metal implants are in place, around open wounds, on areas of numb skin or decreased sensation.
If you have any concerns about whether TENS is suitable for you please consult your lead maternity carer.