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woman in labour wearing a TENS machine on her back

Harnessing Comfort in Labour: The Power of TENS Machines

woman in labour wearing a TENS machine on her back

Giving birth is a remarkable and transformative experience, often accompanied by a mix of excitement and apprehension. Many expectant women and pregnant people will explore various methods to manage pain both in preparation for and during labour, seeking a balance between comfort and empowerment. One such tool gaining popularity in labour wards is the TENS machine. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machines and explore how they can offer relief and support during the labour process.

So, what is a TENS Machine?

TENS machines are portable, battery-operated devices that deliver mild electrical impulses through electrodes placed on the skin. The goal is to alleviate pain by disrupting the pain signals traveling to the brain and promoting the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. While TENS machines have been commonly used for managing chronic pain, their application in labour has gained attention for their non-invasive nature and potential effectiveness.

Painless and Non-Invasive

One of the primary attractions of TENS machines is their non-invasive nature. The electrodes are typically placed on the lower back, and the electrical impulses are administered without the need for drugs or needles. This makes TENS a preferable option for mums and pregnant people who wish to manage pain without the potential side effects associated with medical interventions. The Pain Gate Theory, where we can potentially distract and rewire the brain from focussing on the sensations of labour to elsewhere in our body, is incredibly powerful to utilise and can be a complete game-changer for many.

Empowering Control for Mothers

Labour can be an unpredictable journey, and every woman’s pain threshold and labour experience are unique. TENS machines empower mothers by providing them with a sense of control over their pain management. The intensity of the electrical impulses can be adjusted according to individual comfort levels, allowing mothers to tailor the experience to their needs.

Early Use in Labour

TENS machines are suitable for use during the early stages of labour, offering a proactive approach to pain management but also tend to be more effective the sooner they are used. The devices can be applied at home, providing comfort and support as labour begins. This early intervention allows mothers to establish a sense of calm and focus, potentially reducing the need for more intensive pain relief measures later in the labour process.

No Adverse Effects on the Baby

Unlike certain medications that may cross the placenta and affect the baby, TENS machines have no known adverse effects on the baby during labour. This makes them a safe and viable option for mothers concerned about the potential impact of medications on their newborns.

Cost-Effective and Reusable

TENS machines are generally cost-effective as they are reusable, allowing users to use the device for subsequent labours or share it with friends or family, making it an economical option for those looking for long-term benefits. The only additional cost is replacing batteries and purchasing new electrodes.

TENS machines have emerged as a valuable tool for mothers seeking a non-invasive, drug-free method of pain relief. While every labour experience is unique, the empowering and adjustable nature of TENS machines makes them a worthwhile consideration for those exploring options to enhance comfort and control during childbirth.

If you’re looking to buy one, I personally used the Babycare Elle TENS from Amazon for my first labour and was amazed at how manageable the birth sensations were. The ‘boost’ button was amazing! 

You can also hire them directly for the six weeks of your due period for a fraction of the purchase cost.