What is a TENS Machine?
TENS stands for (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). In the United States, TENS are most often used for nerve related pain conditions (acute and chronic conditions). In Europe, they are also commonly used during the first stage of labor to help the mother cope with her contractions during the first stage of labor. Their use is less commonly used by doctors and hospitals in the US where medicated births are also more common.
At the Corpus Christi Birth Center, we now have an obstetrical TENS machine that is available for our patients to use during labor if they choose. The following video will explain the basics of how a TENS machine is used during labor. Please let us know if you have any questions or would like to consider using a TENS machine while you are in labor and we will be happy to arrange for you to have this option.
When NOT to use TENS?
Never use a TENS machine under the following circumstances, without talking to a midwife or doctor first:
- Before you go into labor.
- When you’re in a shower, bath, or birth pool.
- If you have epilepsy.
- If you have broken skin or a healing scar where you want to place the pads.
- If you have a cardiac pacemaker or a heart rhythm problem.
- If you have pain that you don’t think is labor pain. See your midwife if this is the case.
What are the advantages of TENS?
- You can keep moving around while using it.
- It won’t directly interfere with your labour.
- You can use it for as long as you want to and take it off if you want or need to.
- There are no lasting side-effects.
- It’s safe for you and your baby.
- You don’t need an anesthetist, doctor or midwife to help you use it.
- It can be used outside of a hospital.
- It’s portable and non-invasive.
- You control it.
- It’s easy to use.
What are the disadvantages of TENS?
- You probably won’t be able to put the pads in place without help. Your midwife will do this for you.
- You may find it only gives you relief in the early stages of labor.
- TENS can’t be used in water, though you can still use it before you get in a bath or birth pool.
- If you want your birth partner to massage your back, he’ll have to work around the pads.