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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Maternity TENS: What It Is, The Benefits, And How It Works

Woman with back pain during pregnancy

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is an effective alternative for pain relief that many people use. A maternity TENS unit is a small, battery-operated device that pregnant women use to alleviate labour pains. It works by sending low-voltage electrical pulses to the sensory nerves. This can trigger the pain gate mechanism and endorphin release for natural relief. Additionally, it provides non-invasive and drug-free relief. It is also portable and easy to use whenever needed.

Nevertheless, consulting a healthcare professional before using one is crucial. They may ensure that it is safe for the specific condition of the expectant mother and advise on how to use it. Individuals may opt to rent to buy a device. Renting can be useful for short-term use. However, buying a unit is ideal for those who wish to use it for other conditions as well. This article will present information on TENS machines, their benefits, and how they work.

What is Maternity TENS?

A maternity TENS unit is a medical device that helps pregnant women with labour pains. It uses adhesive electrodes to deliver low-voltage electrical currents to the body. This electrical stimulation can be adjusted using setting controls common in most labour TENS machines. Furthermore, some have boost buttons that can provide a burst of power when needed.

TENS therapy is an alternative pain management method that many use for various acute and chronic conditions. However, pregnant women should consult a healthcare professional before using one to get advice and ensure compatibility with the therapy. Those who do decide to pursue TENS therapy to alleviate pain during contractions may hire or buy an obstetric TENS machine.

Many companies offer TENS units for rent, specifically for use during labour. This is useful for those who do not wish to invest in a personal device. However, buying a unit also provides several advantages. Nevertheless, awareness of the types is also crucial when selecting a TENS unit. Traditional or handheld units are usually less expensive than modern wireless devices. Meanwhile, wireless units offer a significant convenience by removing restrictions on movement.

Importance of Pain Relief During Labour

Labour and childbirth are often linked to intense pain. The following are reasons that support the importance of pain relief during labour:

  • Effective pain relief during contractions can help alleviate physical and emotional stress. This can help the mother relax and become more proactive.
  • Decreasing the intensity of the labour aches can help the mother conserve energy for childbirth.
  • It can help reduce the risks of complications or alternative birthing methods like cesarean sections.
  • By reducing the aches during childbirth, mothers can have a more positive experience.
  • Opting for pain relief methods can empower women and increase their satisfaction with the experience.

iTENS large electrode pads for labour

The Benefits of Maternity TENS

There are several benefits to using a maternity TENS device. Firstly, TENS provides non-invasive and drug-free pain relief. This means that there are fewer risks to the mother and the baby. It also allows them to avoid complications or adverse effects compared to injections or oral medications.

Secondly, TENS is easy to self-administer or use with a birthing partner. It does not require medical supervision and has intuitive controls. Users must simply follow the instruction manual and the advice of their healthcare provider. Thirdly, many TENS units have lightweight and portable designs. Hence, people can bring them to various locations and use them whenever needed. Some wireless units can also be discreetly hidden under clothes, adding to the convenience.

Fourthly, TENS therapy can provide immediate relief during childbirth. It can take effect quickly and last for hours, even after the session. It also allows them to take control of their pain relief. Lastly, it can help reduce the intensity of the contractions by reducing muscle tension, improving the overall experience.

Is It Safe?

Yes, TENS therapy is generally safe for most people. Nevertheless, there are safety precautions that individuals must follow to ensure their safety. Foremost is consulting a healthcare professional since they can advise on how and when to use the machine. It is important to note that many recommend avoiding electrotherapy in the early stages of pregnancy, especially near the abdomen or hips, as it could induce uterine contractions.

However, TENS is safe during labour and can even improve the experience with effective pain management. Moreover, users must remember that it is an electrical device that should not be used while submerged in water.

How Maternity TENS Works

Maternity TENS units work by sending electrical pulses to the sensory nerves. This can activate mechanisms in the body that can produce natural pain relief. Firstly, using high-frequency stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the spinal nerve cells to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This process is also known as the pain gate mechanism, which can provide immediate relief.

Furthermore, it can induce vasodilation and increase blood circulation to the target area. The increased blood flow can reduce muscle tension by providing relief for sore muscles. It can also reduce the intensity of muscle spasms, providing additional pain relief and even relaxation.

On the other hand, low-frequency stimulation (2-10 Hz) triggers the release of endorphins. These are natural painkilling hormones that bind to opioid receptors. They can provide an improved sense of well-being by reducing stress and improving the overall mood. It is ideal to explore the adjustable settings and program modes before labour to maximise the effects of TENS therapy.

Settings and Pad Placement

Proper electrode placement is crucial when using TENS during labour. Hence, the expectant mother or their birthing partner must apply it to the correct areas. The key placement is at the lower back. They should be just above the buttocks and on either side of the spinal cord. Furthermore, the electrode pads should be about two inches apart to prevent interference between them.

For settings, it is recommended to start with low-intensity levels and gradually increase as necessary. They should adjust the intensity based on their comfort level and the effectiveness of pain relief. Asking for detailed instructions from the health professional is ideal.


A maternity TENS device is a helpful tool for expecting mothers. It can provide relief from labour pains, help them conserve energy, and reduce their stress. Using a TENS machine during labour can trigger the pain gate mechanism and endorphin release. The former provides quick relief by blocking pain signals. Meanwhile, the latter induces endorphin production, which binds to the opioid receptors. However, consulting a health professional is vital before using TENS.

There are several benefits to using TENS therapy. It is non-invasive and drug-free. It also provides immediate relief and has a portable design for easy use. Nevertheless, ensuring proper use is crucial for optimal results. This includes proper electrode pad placement and settings when using the unit. In addition, do not use the machine in water since it is an electrical device. Those interested in buying a wireless TENS unit may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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