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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Obstetric TENS Machine: Everything You Need To Know

Pregnant woman considering obstetric TENS machine

An obstetric TENS machine is a portable device that uses mild electrical currents to help relieve labour pain. Many women opt for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to help cope with painful contractions and discomfort during childbirth. This method offers individuals a non-invasive and drug-free way to manage pain. The device has adjustable settings to help control the pain intensity according to a person’s comfort level. It is also proven to be safe during delivery with no adverse risks.

Childbirth is often accompanied by intense pain, and many seek natural pain relief methods to avoid the potential side effects of medications. TENS therapy is an ideal alternative due to its effectiveness and ease of use. If you are considering TENS for labour pain, it is vital to have a clear understanding of what it is and how it works. In this article, we will delve into the functions of the device, different types and usage guidelines.

Overview Of Obstetric TENS Machine

The obstetric TENS machine is a battery-operated device delivering low-level electrical currents through adhesive electrode pads. The electrodes are placed on the targeted area where the currents pass through the skin. The purpose of the device is to activate the body’s natural pain-relieving mechanisms. It stimulates the underlying nerves, which helps reduce pain.

TENS therapy is widely applicable in various settings. It helps relieve chronic pain or disorders like arthritissciaticafibromyalgia, and spinal problems. However, an obstetric unit is specially designed for labour use. It has special controls and a boost button to deliver extra power during intense contractions. Thus, women can use these functions conveniently, which conventional TENS devices may not have.

The machine works by blocking the transmission of pain signals in the spinal cord from reaching the brain. This is according to the Pain Gate Control Theory, wherein large nerve fibres act as gates in the spinal cord. Moreover, gentle impulses also help to release endorphins, the natural painkillers. They inhibit nerve cells from sending pain messages and help improve overall mood.

Benefits Of Using The Device During Labour

  • The device is non-invasive and does not leave permanent marks on the skin.
  • It minimises the need for pain medications or intrusive procedures like epidural injections.
  • Its portability allows flexible movement.
  • The machine has adjustable settings, giving mothers a sense of control over their pain relief.
  • It is ready to use as soon as labour starts.
  • The electrical stimulation begins immediately after turning on the machine. Women may feel therapeutic effects after a few minutes.
  • The tingling sensations from the device help distract the brain from pain.
  • It does not interfere with external monitoring or other pain relief methods.

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Types Of An Obstetric TENS Machine

Depending on their preferences, women may use different types of obstetric TENS machines. A standard type has wired electrode pads connected to a handheld controller. The control unit allows customisation of the settings, including frequency, intensity, and pulse durations. Furthermore, it requires the assembly of wires to the pads before use.

The second TENS machine type is the wireless unit. It is more compact and lightweight due to the absence of lead cables. This type utilises Bluetooth technology to connect to a smartphone app. Hence, instead of holding a remote control, you can control the stimulation from a smartphone. It eliminates the need to hold on to the device during labour.

Aside from their control and connection, specialised devices also have other features. Labour TENS may include a pelvic mode for stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles after birth and contraction timers. In addition, a TENS device may be single or dual-channel. Dual-channel machines give two separate stimulation levels from each lead.

Features To Consider

Labour TENS unit includes advanced features to help give maximum pain relief. Among these, the boost mode is vital to deliver extra pulse power to combat intense pain. Women can simply press the button when they feel the contractions intensify. Likewise, check the range of intensity levels and other pre-set modes.

It is also crucial to consider the overall power and battery life of the device. This ensures continuous treatment during long hours of labour. The battery life may depend on the intensity used during the stimulation. Moreover, choose large electrode pads to cover a wide area of the body.

A pregnant women resting

Operating An Obstetric TENS Machine

Obstetric TENS machines are easy to operate, allowing mothers to use them immediately. Begin by placing the electrode pads on the lower back on clean and dry skin. Then, turn on the unit and adjust the settings according to a doctor’s instructions. Start at the lowest intensity and gradually increase as the labour pain gets stronger.

During the session, it helps to try different settings to find optimal relief. You may increase the intensity and frequency to a tolerable level. However, if it causes more pain, reduce the settings until you feel more comfortable. It is best to start using the device at the early stages of labour to allow the body plenty of time to produce endorphins.

Since TENS is an electrical device, it is vital to note that it should be used in water, as this can cause electrical shocks. In addition, do not apply the electrodes near open wounds or on broken or infected skin. If skin irritation or allergic reactions occur, discontinue use immediately. Lastly, it is essential to note that each person can react differently to the therapy.

Buy Or Hire?

You have the option to buy or hire a TENS device. Some hospitals, birthing centres, or private companies offer TENS machines for hire for temporary use. This is beneficial for single use. It allows you to use TENS therapy without the high cost. Hence, it is practical and risk-free.

On the other hand, buying a personal TENS machine gives you unlimited access to pain relief. You may use it anytime you need it without worrying about rental costs. Therefore, it is more cost-efficient for long-term use. This is favourable for people planning on multiple births or with chronic pain conditions.


An obstetric TENS machine for labour pain relief is a drug-free approach to relieving pain. It is a small electrical device that helps manage severe cramping sensations and lower back pain during early labour. While utilising TENS, many people have drastically reduced their need for drugs or risky procedures. It also does not carry the risk of developing adverse side effects. Therefore, it is an excellent method for pain management.

TENS devices come in standard wired and wireless units. Each type has its advantages and features. Thus, choosing a device for labour may depend on specific needs. Furthermore, they are easy to use, enabling immediate pain relief when labour starts. Thus, it is vital to familiarise yourself with the device for safe and optimal use. You may get avail of TENS machines by hiring or buying. Lastly, it is best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and advice.

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