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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Machine Pregnancy Guide

A pregnant woman sleeping

During pregnancy, many women experience many changes in their bodies, including discomforts and aches. One popular method to alleviate these pains is the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine. A TENS machine for pregnancy is a device that uses mild electrical pulses to provide pain relief. This enables expecting mothers to manage their discomforts without relying on medication, thus avoiding potential side effects. The TENS unit is also useful for relieving contraction pains during labour.

Pain management is a top priority for many pregnant women. TENS therapy is an all-natural and drug-free comfort during comfort. However, the operation of TENS machines requires some precautions and understanding to ensure safe usage. Women considering this therapy may consult their obstetrician or healthcare provider first to assess if it suits their condition. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a TENS unit for pregnancy, how it works, and important safety considerations.

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What Is a TENS Machine for Pregnancy?

A TENS machine is a small, portable electronic device that sends low-voltage electrical currents to the body. It uses one or more sets of electrode pads placed on the skin near the pain area to deliver electrical stimulation. The purpose of the machine is to stimulate the nerves, providing relief from various types of pain.

In recent years, many women have used a TENS machine for pregnancy to have a natural form of pain relief. The device can help manage discomfort associated with common issues such as back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, and uterine contractions. These currents produce mild tingling sensations that are comfortable and do not cause harm to the mother or the baby.

Nevertheless, individuals have to follow precautions to ensure safe and effective use. They must be aware of certain areas to avoid, especially around the abdomen, to prevent any potential risks. Users also have to control the right amount of electrical stimulation for their pain level. Fortunately, the TENS device is easy to use, even with zero or little prior experience.

Benefits of TENS for Labour

  • Women get non-invasive and drug-free pain relief to combat strong contractions during labour.
  • They can be used at the early stages of labour to get early relief.
  • It gives women a sense of control over pain relief through adjustable settings.
  • TENS machines are portable, making them convenient for use at home or on the way to the hospital.
  • It is a natural alternative for pain management, reducing the need for medical interventions.
  • TENS can help women stay more relaxed and focused during labour, promoting a more positive birth experience.
  • A TENS machine does not interfere with external monitoring devices used during labour.

A pregnant woman holding her stomach in a clinic

Is a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Pain Safe?

A TENS machine for pregnancy is generally safe for use during all three trimesters of pregnancy. Correct usage and proper electrode placement are crucial to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the therapy. However, women should avoid using the device before 36 weeks of pregnancy without medical advice. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider, especially for those with underlying medical conditions or complications with pregnancy.

It is advisable to try a TENS unit at a clinic to experience the effects and see if it works well for managing pregnancy pain. This will allow women to determine whether it is the right option for them before purchasing their own TENS machine. Furthermore, since it does not involve medications or incisions, it has fewer risks or side effects, making it a safe option.

TENS machines also do not carry the risk of developing dependency. Women may use the device whenever needed and stop use without any withdrawal symptoms or negative effects. Lastly, TENS does not interfere with other methods, such as physical therapy, stretching, or massage. It can be used as an adjunct treatment, providing more comprehensive relief.

Case Studies

Several case studies and research have evaluated the effectiveness and safety of TENS for labour. One study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that TENS machines do not have adverse effects on the mother or the baby when used correctly.

Another study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews has similar findings and adds that it reduces the need for other pain management techniques, such as epidurals. It is appropriate to use alone or as an adjunct to other treatments. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the effects of TENS vary from one person to the other.

A female news anchor reporting about TENS

How a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Relieves Pain

A TENS machine for pregnancy works based on the principle of electrical nerve stimulation. The device sends small, safe pulses through the skin to stimulate the sensory nerves. This overrides the nerves that are responsible for sending sensory information to the brain. Another method is stimulating the production of endorphins, the natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body.

Moreover, TENS machines have adjustable settings, allowing users to control the intensity and frequency of the pulses. This flexibility ensures that the device suits individual preferences and pain levels. The intensity refers to the strength of the electrical pulses. Increasing the intensity level is advisable as the labour pain progresses. The tingling sensations also help distract the brain from the pain.

Most TENS machines also have pre-set treatment modes, such as burst, modulation, and continuous. Each mode delivers different stimulation patterns, targeting different types of pain. Women may experiment with different modes to find the most effective relief. It is vital to keep the frequency and intensity within a comfortable range.

Mechanisms of Action

TENS therapy has two main mechanisms of action: pain gating and endorphin release. The first mechanism is based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain. High-frequency currents from the TENS device stimulate the nerve fibres in the spinal cord to close. As a result, it restricts the transmission of pain signals from the pain site to the brain.

The second mechanism is the release of endogenous opioids like endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals that act as painkillers and mood enhancers. By increasing the production of endorphins, it can provide natural relief during pregnancy and labour. TENS uses low-level frequency for this effect.

A pregnant woman sitting on a chair

Why Use a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Pain Over Other Methods?

There are several reasons to consider a TENS machine for pregnancy pain. Firstly, it can be a drug-free alternative. Many women may be cautious about taking pain medication or analgesics, as it can have potential side effects. TENS offer natural relief, minimising reliance on any drugs or the need for invasive procedures.

Secondly, TENS machines are highly customisable. The ability to control the electrical impulses allows users to tailor the treatment to their specific needs. With adjustable settings for intensity and frequency, expecting mothers can find a comfortable level of stimulation that matches their pain intensity. This flexibility ensures that the device can adapt to the changing needs throughout pregnancy.

Thirdly, it is easy to use and allows for passive treatment. Individuals can use the machine to get immediate relief without involving effort or assistance from others. This can be particularly useful during pregnancy when women have limited mobility or cannot rely on others for constant support. Lastly, it can be effective for various conditions, including acute and chronic pain.

Key Advantages

  • TENS machines are non-invasive and comfortable to use. The electrode pads adhere easily to the skin.
  • TENS machines can provide targeted pain relief to specific areas of the body.
  • TENS therapy is suitable for both acute and chronic pain conditions. It can help relieve muscle soreness or sciatica that may aggravate during pregnancy.
  • The use of the device can give instantaneous effects. Individuals can experience therapeutic relief after a few minutes of use.
  • TENS machines do not require a prescription and are readily available for purchase.
  • Women may use it at home without the need to go to a pain clinic.

A large wing iTENS electrode and information about iTENS

Different Types of TENS Machines for Pregnancy Pain

There are various types of TENS machines for pregnancy pain that mothers can choose from. The first common type is the standard or traditional device. It is a handheld TENS unit with buttons and a digital display. The machine connects to the electrodes through wires or cables. Moreover, these devices typically have one, two, or four channels. Each channel connects to pairs of electrodes and can deliver different stimulation levels simultaneously.

The second type is the wireless TENS device. These devices are similar to the standard handheld TENS unit but eliminate the need for wires or cables. They use wireless technology, such as Bluetooth, to connect the electrodes to the machine, providing more convenience and freedom of movement for expecting mothers.

Another type is a specialised labour TENS unit, specifically designed for labour pain. These devices often come with additional features, such as an intuitive boost button and contraction timers. Furthermore, TENS machines use either standard or rechargeable batteries. A rechargeable unit has a built-in lithium-ion battery, eliminating the need for frequent replacements.

A Closer Look at Wireless TENS

Wireless TENS machines are more compact, lightweight, and portable than standard devices. It is gaining popularity due to its convenience and user-friendly features. These devices offer several advantages, such as greater mobility. It enables women to move around freely while managing pregnancy discomfort.

Another benefit is the ability to control the settings from a smartphone app. The app often offers more therapy modes for different types of pain. Users can conveniently select from the menu the desired treatment for their needs. Additionally, the wireless electrodes allow easier pad placement, especially for hard-to-reach body parts. Therefore, users can start the therapy as quickly as possible.

A guide on how to use the iTENS smartphone app

Using a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Pain

Using a TENS machine for pregnancy pain and discomfort is fairly simple and easy. Before use, it is essential to clean the treatment area. Remove any lotion, oil, or dirt that may interfere with the adhesion of the pads. Next, position the electrodes near the pain. A partner can assist in placing the pads, especially at the back. Ensure that they are firmly in place and have direct contact with the skin.

Turn on the TENS machine and adjust the settings based on comfort or tolerance level. Individuals may set the frequency to a low level for chronic pain and a high level for severe or acute pain. In addition, it is best to start with the lowest intensity and gradually increase until the sensations are strong but comfortable.

Users may keep on adjusting the settings until it provides the most effective relief. Generally, treatment sessions can range from 15 minutes to one hour. It can also be done multiple times a day as needed. After the session, turn off the device before removing the pads.

Setting Up the Device

Setting up the TENS machine depends on the type of device. For standard units, users have to attach the cables between the machine and the pads. Ensure they are secured before turning on the device to avoid electrical shocks. Also, check the wires for any signs of wear or damage and replace them if necessary.

On the other hand, setting up a wireless TENS device is even easier. Users simply attach the pads directly to the device without the need for cables. For first-time use, they should pair the unit to a smartphone app by enabling the Bluetooth connection.

A person removing the film from an electrode pad

Pad Placement Guide for a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Pain

Proper pad placement is crucial when using a TENS machine for pregnancy. Generally, the pads should be placed on the sides of the pain. This guide allows the currents to be directed towards the centre of the most painful spot. For back pain, position the electrodes on both sides of the spine to cover the entire area.

If the pain is in joints, position the electrodes above or below the joint. Pregnant women may use the TENS machine on their shoulders, back, arms, legs, or knees, depending on where the pain is located. However, it is crucial to avoid placing the electrode pads directly over the belly or abdomen during pregnancy.

Other places to avoid are the chest area, temples, and the front of the neck. These areas have sensitive tissues and organs that may cause harm if stimulated incorrectly. Also, avoid using the TENS machine near an electric-implanted device, such as a cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator. Lastly, do not place the electrodes on broken skin, open wounds, and areas with skin irritation or decreased sensations.

Steps to Apply the Electrodes

  • Peel the cover of the adhesive electrode pads.
  • Hold the pads at the tip and try to avoid touching the sticky part to prevent dirt or oil from transferring to the pads.
  • Press down the pads firmly on the skin, making sure they are evenly spaced and cover the desired area of pain.
  • If using multiple pads, make sure they are at least one inch apart to prevent overlapping currents.
  • When removing the pads, gently peel them off the skin at the tip. Do not pull them abruptly or pull the wires.
  • Remove any gel residue and place the protective cover back on the pads.

A pregnant woman holding her belly

Additional Safety Guidelines When Using a TENS Machine for Pregnancy

There are general safety guidelines to keep in mind when using a TENS machine for pregnancy. Firstly, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to ensure that TENS therapy is an appropriate treatment method. They can also provide guidance on the settings to use and pad placement depending on the type and location of pain.

Secondly, keep the current intensity low (except when in labour). The TENS unit should produce gentle tingling sensations without exceeding the comfort level. To avoid overstimulation, always start with the lowest intensity and gradually increase. It is also essential to avoid inducing muscle contractions when using the device.

Thirdly, keep the duration of sessions short. It is recommended to limit TENS therapy sessions to 30 minutes to an hour at a time. This helps prevent overuse and muscle fatigue. Additionally, do not use the device while sleeping, driving, or doing activities that require concentration. Finally, do not use the TENS machine in water, as it can cause electrical shocks.

Possible Side Effects and What to Do

Although TENS is generally safe, there are potential side effects to be aware of. These side effects are rare but can occur in some cases. Some users may experience skin irritation or redness at electrode sites. If this occurs, switch off the device and remove the pads. Try using hypoallergenic types.

Mild muscle twitching or spasms may also occur during TENS therapy. Adjusting the intensity level or repositioning the electrodes can resolve this. If there are any unusual or concerning side effects, such as increased pain, discontinue TENS therapy and seek medical advice immediately. A healthcare provider can advise adjustments to the treatment plan.

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Should You Buy or Hire a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Pain?

Women may choose between different options when getting a TENS machine for pregnancy pain. Buying or hiring a TENS unit is a personal decision that depends on individual circumstances. TENS machines are available for purchase in retail stores, online, and through healthcare providers. Additionally, they come in varying price ranges and with different features.

Buying a TENS machine can be a cost-effective option for long-term pain management. This can be beneficial for individuals with underlying health conditions or chronic pain. Nevertheless, investing in a high-quality TENS machine is important to ensure effectiveness and durability. Consider the portability, ease of use, setting levels, quality of electrodes, and type of device, among others.

On the other hand, hiring a TENS machine may be a suitable option for those who are trying TENS therapy for the first time. Hiring allows individuals to try the device and experience its pain relief effects. Many companies offer TENS machines for hire online or in clinics. These devices are typically available for a 6-12 weeks hire or longer.

Advantages of Owning a Device

One of the key advantages of owning a TENS machine is the convenience it provides. It gives individuals unlimited access to pain relief. People can use the device anytime they need it without relying on renting or borrowing one. It also minimises the need to wait for consultation hours of healthcare professionals to find relief.

Another advantage is the versatility it offers. The adjustable settings of the machine are also suitable for purposes other than pregnancy pain. Also, individuals can try different settings to find optimal comfort. This can be particularly helpful during the later stages of pregnancy, when pain may be more frequent.

A small and long wing iTENS electrode

The iTENS as a TENS Machine for Pregnancy Pain

One of the reputable TENS devices in the market is iTENS. It is a wireless TENS machine with advanced technology and innovative features. The iTENS has slim, flexible, wing-shaped pads that are discreet, making it an ideal TENS machine for pregnancy pain. Furthermore, the wireless electrodes eliminate the inconvenience of cumbersome wires and bulky controllers.

The iTENS consists of a small, round disc that generates small electrical pulses and interchangeable wings. The electrodes come in various sizes, including small and large wings, to cover different body areas. The large wings are ideal for broad pain sites like the lower back. In addition, people may buy a spare long wing targeting elongated pain areas.

Moreover, the device is controllable through a companion app. The iTENS app is free and downloadable on both the iOS and Android platforms. Aside from customisable programs, the app offers various pre-set modes for common ailments or health conditions. This includes treatment for neuropathic pain, musculoskeletal pain, and arthritis pain.

Main Features of the iTENS Wireless

  • Adjustable settings: It presents a wide range of settings, including frequency, pulse duration, waveforms, and intensity.
  • Optional Bluetooth connectivity: iTENS has a dual mode of operation. Individuals can use the device manually or through a smartphone app.
  • Gel pads: The iTENS device uses hypoallergenic gel pads that are gentle on the skin and are reusable. It comes in small, large, and long sizes.
  • Rechargeable battery: The iTENS device utilises a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, eliminating the need for constant battery replacements. The battery life is long-lasting and can be easily charged using the USB cable and charging dock.


TENS therapy is an effective method to manage pain during pregnancy without the use of medication. A TENS machine for pregnancy uses low-voltage electrical currents that are safe for the mother and the baby. The currents stimulate the underlying nerves to block pain signals and release endorphins. Thus, these mechanisms of action provide a natural form of pain relief. The device is also easy to use, portable, and convenient, making it a popular choice among pregnant women.

Proper usage and electrode placement are vital for safe and effective relief. This involves adjusting the settings to the most comfortable level. It is also essential to avoid placement on certain areas, such as directly over the pregnant belly, chest, head, and front of the neck. Women may get the device by buying or hiring one. Hiring a TENS machine may be more affordable, but owning a personal device, like the iTENS, can be cost-efficient for long-term use.

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