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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Unit For Labor: Is It Safe To Use?

A TENS machine kit with a pack of refillable gel pads and necessary information

During labor, women experience intense contractions that can cause significant pain. In recent years, many expectant mothers have turned to TENS units for labor pain. It is a safe, non-invasive, and drug-free method for pain management. There are minimal risks. Also, there are no side effects that are commonly associated with medications. However, consulting a doctor about the usage of TENS is necessary. The machine produces low-voltage electrical pulses. These stimulate the nerves to alleviate pain during labor.

Contraction pains are intense. These can cause a great amount of discomfort to the woman. It is important to find a good form of pain relief that is not only safe but also effective. TENS devices are becoming increasingly in demand as an alternative to painkillers. Expectant mums who are considering TENS should thoroughly understand the components surrounding it for an informed decision. The article will present what it is, how it works, and how to effectively use a unit.

What is a TENS Unit for Labor

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a form of electrotherapy. It utilises electric current to stimulate nerve endings to reduce pain. It is a generally safe option for many types of pain, including pregnancy and labor pains. A TENS unit for labor uses a battery-operated machine. Traditionally, it is handheld, and people can find it in a hospital. Nowadays, there are wireless devices which they can acquire for personal use.

Labour TENS units have features like a special belt to secure the device in place during contractions. There are cords for handheld machines so that the woman or her birth partner does not need to hold the device at all times. A boost button is a beneficial component of TENS because it allows for a higher stimulation intensity when necessary.

The portability and ease of use of a TENS unit make it a versatile tool. Pregnant women can use it in various labor settings, including home births, birth centres, and hospital settings. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using a TENS unit to ensure its compatibility with the specific circumstances of the labor.

Advantages of the Device Over Other Relief Methods

  • Targeted pain relief: Unlike medication or topical creams, the device directly targets the source of pain. This provides localised relief from pain and reduces the risk of side effects.
  • Convenient: The unit is compact and lightweight. Thus, it is easy to transport. Also, individuals can use it anytime, anywhere.
  • Cost-effective solution: Compared to others, the machine offers a more affordable option.
  • Versatile application: The device can treat various types of pain, including joint pain, muscle aches, and migraines.
  • No time constraints: Owning a unit does not require appointments and time-consuming protocols. People can fit TENS pain relief into their busy schedules.

A pregnant woman sleeping on a bed

How a TENS Unit for Labor Works

A TENS unit for labor is a device that can provide pain relief during pregnancy. It works by delivering mild electrical currents to the body. Pregnant women or their partners simply need to attach the electrodes to the skin. It should be around the area experiencing pain. The electrical currents help to disrupt the pain signals that flow through the spinal cord. As a result, they feel less pain perceptions. Also, TENS provides relaxing sensations.

Furthermore, TENS can create a distraction from the pain by stimulating the nerves in the area. Laboring women can divert their attention away from the contractions by focusing on the tingling sensations. This helps them to cope with the pain more effectively. They can utilise different settings and intensities of electrical currents to achieve this. Moreover, this allows women to have a sense of control over their pain experience.

Individuals can use the TENS device in conjunction with other pain relief methods. This includes breathing techniques or medication, which then provide comprehensive pain management during labor. TENS is suitable for women who want natural pain relief with the release of endorphins from TENS.

At What Stage of Labor Can the Device be Used

Women can operate a TENS machine during different stages of labour. They can utilise it during the active labour stage. This typically starts when the cervix is dilated around 6 centimetres and ends when it reaches 10 centimetres. At this stage, contractions are strong and regular. The expectant mum may experience intense pain.

Furthermore, the unit can be used during the pushing stage of labor. This stage begins once the cervix is fully dilated and the woman starts to feel the urge to push. The natural pain relief mechanism of TENS can assist during this intense phase, making the pain more manageable.

A woman using a TENS machine on her lower back

How to Use a TENS Unit for Labor

To begin using a TENS unit for labor, make sure the machine has fresh batteries or is fully charged. Place the electrodes on the lower back. It can be around the area where they experience pain. Make sure to place the electrode pads firmly on the skin. Adjust the intensity level to a comfortable setting. Start low and gradually increase as needed. Use the device for 20-30 minutes.

Women must follow the manual and speak with a doctor before use. Moreover, it is common to experience a tingling or buzzing sensation when the TENS unit is activated. This is completely normal. However, it is important to stay aware of any reactions and seek medical advice if they occur. They can safely and effectively use a labor TENS machine by following specific guidelines.

Individuals who have a wireless unit can operate TENS using a mobile phone. This is possible because of the Bluetooth connectivity these TENS devices have. They can access a mobile app to control the administration of TENS. This method of pain relief is useful because they can administer TENS for a variety of conditions aside from contraction pains.

Pad Placement Guide for Safe Use

When it comes to using pads, safety should always be a top priority. To ensure safe use, it is important to follow a pad placement guide. Firstly, it is crucial to choose the right size and type of pad for specific needs. There are small and large options for the back area.

Secondly, people should attach the pads to the lower back. They must position them correctly to maximise protection and minimise discomfort. Also, the electrodes should be at least 2-3 inches apart. Lastly, it is important to attach the pads securely and make sure they will stay in place during the entire labor.


A TENS unit for labor is a type of non-invasive pain relief device. It helps manage contraction pains, typically in the lower back. It works by sending electrical pulses through electrode pads. These gentle pulses stimulate the nerves. TENS can then help to reduce the intensity and duration of labor pains. Pain gating and endorphin production can make labor pain levels more manageable. Women or their birth partners can easily operate TENS. They only need to follow the guidelines properly.

Individuals can adjust the settings to suit their preferences. There are preset modes for more convenience. This is also beneficial when using TENS for other acute and chronic pain conditions. Expectant mum and people, in general, can use it in conjunction with other options for pain relief. This can give optimum results. However, they must seek medical advice before use to avoid any concerns. For options, they can check via online sites or in-store like pharmacies and drugstores.

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