Less painful labour with the TENS machine

One way to be in control of your pain in labour is by using a TENS machine. There are a few other pain relief options to give birth, though many of us would say a game-changer during our labour was the TENS machine.

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To be honest with you, I had never heard of a TENS before the third trimestre of pregnancy. On top of that, I was skeptical about how much this little device could help me. Well, it took me ten minutes reading the amazing reviews from other mums and dads on Amazon to decide it was worth a try. Most of them were extremely grateful to have used it during labour and couldn’t recommend it enough.

From my own experience, after using that TENS for more than 20 hours in my own labour, I have become a huge fan. Any help you can have during childbirth is welcome. It was, by far, the pain relief method I used for longer. 

What is a TENS?

A TENS machine is a small device that uses Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation to relieve and reduce pain. It’s used for many conditions such as arthritis, neck pain, period pain or knee pain. Undoubtedly, A TENS machine can help with the pain of contractions during childbirth. The recommendation is to use a Maternity TENS unless you have previous experience with general TENS machines.

How does it work?

The TENS machine emits completely safe small electrical pulses that reach pads onto your skin. After applying 4 pads directly onto your back as per the instruction manual (easier to do with someone else’s help), you will have full control of the machine, how frequent and how weak or strong are the pulses. You would feel a mild tingling sensation when the small currents are emitted. When there is pain (in this case, with each contraction), these sensations will be pleasant and relieving. It might feel different if someone tries it without pain. The stronger your contractions are, the better it helps.

Some hospitals have a few TENS machines for the whole maternity or labour wards. You could ask your midwife to check availability at your local area. Many mothers decide to buy their own machine as they will probably start using it at home when contractions begin to be painful, on the way to the hospital (in a taxi or car, for instance) and while in the hospital without having to wait or request it.

What TENS do you recommend?

The TENS machine I personally used during my labour was the Maternity Obi TENS from Babycare TENS on Amazon. I cannot recommend it enough. I actually lent my own TENS to two very close friends for their labours in the past year. Below I explain more about this amazing Maternity TENS in case you decide to give it a go.

Is the Maternity TENS easy to use?

The model comes with a neck cord to have the TENS unit at hand for pressing the button as the contractions start or finish. It also includes a storage pouch, 4 self-adhesive pads and batteries. I used the self-adhesive pads for more than 20 hours and they are still OK. If they start to peel off your skin, you could place a drop of water on the gel of the pad to make it sticky again. I bought a separate pack of 4 additional self-adhesive pads as I was unsure if one pack would be enough – this extra pack is still unopened! Therefore you probably don’t need to buy anything on top of the TENS. It comes with all you need off-the-shelf.

The Maternity Obi TENS is extremely easy to use. In fact, it only has 4 buttons:

  • ON/OFF
  • BOOST, to press when the contraction starts or finishes 
  • 2 arrows up and down to increase/decrease the strength of the pulses as you wish.

You can read all posts about pregnancy, birth and newborn here.

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