Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses electrical stimulation to stimulate nerves and provide a method of pain relief. One of the device applications is TENS in pregnancy. This stimulation for pain relief gives numerous benefits for a pregnant woman. It is a non-invasive and drug-free pain relief method, reducing the reliance on medications. However, it is vital to follow safety precautions to avoid risks. Hence, the use of TENS must be under professional guidance.
Pregnancy is a time of immense physical and hormonal changes, which can lead to various discomforts such as backaches, pelvic ailments, and muscle tension. Traditional methods may not always be suitable or safe for pregnant women, prompting the search for alternative options. Thus, many women are turning to TENS as a potential solution for their pregnancy discomforts. This article will present the benefits of TENS in a pregnant woman, how to operate it, and the safety precautions.
Benefits of Using TENS in Pregnancy
Using TENS in pregnancy can offer several benefits in managing discomfort and aches. Firstly, it is a natural and drug-free pain relief option. It only uses electrical current and does not require invasive surgeries or medications. Secondly, it can stimulate the release of endorphins. These are natural painkillers that promote relaxation, providing additional relief during labour.
Thirdly, TENS works by stimulating the nerves with electrical pulses through electrode pads. These pulses activate the gating mechanism, which blocks the pain signals from reaching the brain. By interrupting the pain messages, TENS provide relief and allows pregnant women to manage discomfort effectively. Accordingly, TENS are portable. This allows pregnant people to manage pain while being physically active.
Pain during pregnancy can limit mobility and hinder daily activities. By using TENS, individuals can experience reduced aches, enhancing overall mobility. Utilising TENS can also empower pregnant women to take an active role in managing aches. They have control over the settings and timing of the device.
Relevant Conditions That Can Be Treated
- Low back pain – it is a common complaint during pregnancy due to the stress on the spinal cord and muscles.
- Labour pain – TENS can block pain signals, reducing the intensity of contractions during labour.
- Sciatica – it often radiates along the sciatic nerve in the lower back, buttocks, and down leg.
- Musculoskeletal pain – this is a discomfort in the muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues.
- Pelvic girdle pain – it is a discomfort in the pelvic region. This occurs due to hormonal changes and strain on the pelvic joints.
How to Operate TENS in Pregnancy
Operating TENS in pregnancy helps manage various conditions. Before using a TENS device, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They can guide the appropriate use of TENS and ensure it is safe for the specific pregnancy condition. Also, start by carefully reading the instructions of the manufacturer for precise guidelines.
Clean the skin of the treatment area. It is advisable to use mild soap and water to ensure cleanliness. Gently pat the area dry. Place the electrodes on either side of the pain area. Most TENS have adjustable settings for intensity, frequency, and duration. Begin with the lowest setting and moderately increase it to a comfortable level. Then, activate the device.
The electric nerve stimulation produces a gentle, tingling or buzzing sensation. If at any point the sensations become uncomfortable or painful, reduce the settings or consult with a healthcare provider. Nevertheless, it is crucial to adhere to the specific settings and recommendations set by the medical practitioner. After each use, clean and store the device properly for future use.
Proper Pad Placement
Proper pad placement is crucial when using TENS during pregnancy. TENS usually come with two or four electrode pads. Hence, it is common to start with two pads for small areas or four pads for larger areas. If the pregnant person is experiencing back aches, the pads may be on either side of the spine.
Meanwhile, if the ache is in the shoulder or neck, position two pads on either side of the ailment area. Additionally, it is vital to avoid placing pads on the abdomen and uterus. Hence, it is best to consult a practitioner regarding pad placement.
Safety Precautions When Using TENS in Pregnancy
When using TENS in pregnancy, it is important to follow safety precautions. Before undergoing therapy, check the condition of the device for any damage or wear. Then, ensure that the electrode pads are placed correctly, following the guidelines of the manufacturer or healthcare professional. Also, it is crucial to adhere to the specific frequency, intensity, and duration of the treatment.
Avoid setting the intensity too high, as it may cause discomfort or potentially harm the baby. Do not place the pads on the abdomen unless specifically advised by the practitioner. These areas are sensitive as electrical stimulation in these regions may have an impact on the developing baby. Similarly, it is best to avoid placing pads on acupuncture points that are unsafe during pregnancy.
Before starting TENS therapy, remove any metallic objects, such as jewellery or accessories. Metal can interfere with the electrical flow and cause discomfort. Moreover, avoid using a TENS device while in water, such as a bathtub or bathing. Water may pose a risk of electrical shock and can interfere with the proper functioning of the unit.
When to Discontinue Use
Knowing when to discontinue using TENS is essential for safety. If the therapy is causing further discomfort, it is advisable to stop using TENS. A sign is also the redness, itchiness, or rash in the electrode sites. It could be a sign of an allergy or skin sensitivity. If the user has an unusual discharge, stop using the unit and consult a professional.
Additionally, if there are regular contractions during the therapy, it is vital to stop the use of TENS. Also, if pregnant people notice a decrease in the regular movement pattern of the baby, discontinue using TENS.
TENS in pregnancy is a safe and effective method for pain relief with proper guidance. It is a non-invasive and drug-free technique that involves the use of low-voltage electrical currents. Such an approach can block pain signals and trigger the production of endorphins. Accordingly, the portable device can manage different types of conditions during pregnancy. This can include back, labour, sciatica, pelvic, and musculoskeletal aches. Hence, TENS enables pregnant women to customise relief to conform to specific needs.
The unit is simple to use, allowing pregnant individuals to easily access relief. One just needs to determine the treatment area, place the pads, adjust the settings, and relax. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know the proper pad placement. It is vital to avoid the uterus or abdomen as it can affect the baby. Also, it is essential to follow the safety guidelines to eliminate risks. Consulting a medical practitioner is always advisable and important before using TENS during pregnancy.