Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a drug free and non-invasive form of pain relief commonly used during labour.
TENS works by sending electrical impulses through the skin to the nerves, which is thought to reduce the brain’s perception of pain by altering the warning signals received from the uterus, cervix and vagina.
It is also thought to stimulate the production of endorphins – the natural pain relievers in the body.
The tingling sensation created by the nerves in response to the electrical impulses can be intensified with the use of a ‘boost’ button during contractions providing a welcome distraction and sense of control throughout labour.
Electrode placement for TENS pain relief use in labour
There are many benefits of using TENS as pain relief during labour:
- It is drug free, does not cause drowsiness and can be used with other pain relief options (except where an epidural is required).
- It is easy to use once you have had an education session to familiarise yourself with the device.
- It is lightweight and portable allowing you to remain upright and moving around freely during labour.
- You can control the intensity of the distracting electrical impulses during contractions.
- TENS cannot be used in water and must be removed before entering the bath or shower during labour.
- You should not use TENS if you have a cardiac pacemaker or other active implanted device
- You should not use TEN if you have metal in the vicinity of the pelvis, history of previous pelvic tumours and some forms of epilepsy.
A Physiotherapist can provide education on how to use a TENS machine effectively during labour, helping you to feel confident with the placement of the electrodes, the proper use of the machine, and safely familiarising yourself with the sensations to expect beforehand.
myPhysioSA for her has TENS machines specifically designed for obstetric use available to hire following the completion of your education session.
To book an appointment TENS education and hire, feel free to call myPhysioSA and see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
Kate Phillips, myPhysioSA for Her, Clinical Director and Womens Health Physiotherapist