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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Using TENS Machine During Labour: Benefits, When To Use, And Proper Pad Placement

A standing pregnant woman touching her abdomen

While pregnancy is a natural process, the pain and discomfort can be overwhelming. Each woman has a different experience regarding contractions. Thus, they need pain management methods. One way is by using a TENS machine during labour. It is a portable device, so they can easily handle and bring it anywhere. Pregnant individuals can use TENS for lower back pains while they are in labour. They should place the electrodes near the lower back area, usually at the pain level.

Labour pain can vary from mild discomfort to strong contractions. Expectant mothers often utilise various methods such as breathing techniques, massages, or medication. However, there is a non-invasive and drug-free alternative, which they can find in TENS. It is beneficial, but they must carefully understand its components. The article will delve into its advantages, the ideal timing for its use, and the correct positioning of the pads to ensure maximum pain relief during labour.

Benefits of Using a TENS Machine During Labour

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a safe and effective method of pain relief. Using a TENS machine during labour offers many beneficial factors to individuals. Firstly, one of its key advantages over others is its non-invasive nature. It does not involve any drugs or intrusive procedures. Moreover, it is considered to be an alternative to epidural anaesthesia, which can cause a range of side effects for mothers and babies.

Secondly, a TENS unit is handy, lightweight, and convenient. Expectant mothers can use it in any setting, including at home or in a hospital. Furthermore, it does not require additional medical equipment or personnel to operate the device. This makes it an ideal choice for women who wish to give birth in an environment of their choosing.

Lastly, TENS is easy to use. It requires minimal setup and some machines do not have wires. Most units have preprogrammed settings. Thus, people can simply press a button and TENS will start working right away. A wireless machine can connect to Bluetooth. This enables them to control the settings using their smartphone through a mobile application.

How it Works to Control Pain

Generally, TENS works in two different ways. They are the following:

  • Endorphin release – The electrical impulses from the TENS device trigger the natural pain-killing chemicals of the body. These endorphins help to reduce the perception of pain and promote a sense of relaxation. It utilises low frequencies, less than 10 Hz, to boost its production.
  • Pain gating – The Pain Gate Theory is an important concept in TENS. It describes how TENS works to reduce pain by stimulating nerve fibres. As a result, it blocks the pain signals from reaching the brain. This uses high frequencies that range from 50-100 Hz.

A TENS kit with refillable gel pad pack and necessary information

When to Start Using a TENS Machine During Labour

Pregnant women can operate TENS at various stages of labour. Many of them begin using a TENS machine during labour at its early stages. This is when the contractions are still mild. Administering the therapy early on allows the body to gradually adjust to the electrical pulses. Also, it can help the expectant mother to stay relaxed and comfortable as labour progresses.

Moreover, as labour intensifies and the contractions become stronger, TENS can continue to be used to manage the pain. Individuals can increase the intensity of the electrical current as necessary to match the increasing pain levels. The ability to adjust the machine provides a sense of control and allows each woman to personalise her pain relief experience.

It is important to note that TENS devices are not recommended for the final stages of labour. This is when the contractions are at their strongest and most intense. At this stage, other forms of pain relief, such as epidurals or nitrous oxide gas, may be more appropriate. Nevertheless, always consult with a doctor to determine the best time to start and stop using TENS.

How to Operate the Device

To operate a TENS unit, start by placing the electrode pads. They should be in a position that feels comfortable. Make sure to securely attach the pads to your skin. Then, turn on the machine and adjust the settings. Individuals can increase or decrease the intensity as necessary throughout labour.

Most TENS machines come with a boost button. People can press it during each contraction to provide an extra surge of electrical currents. They should experiment with different modes until they find what works best for them. Remember, seek medical advice because professionals can guide them towards optimal performance.

A pregnant woman sleeping on a bed while touching her abdomen

Proper Pad Placement When Using a TENS Machine During Labour

The positioning of electrodes is crucial when using a TENS machine during labour. Generally, individuals use a pair of electrodes is used. The pads can be positioned either on the lower back or sacrum. They should apply them firmly. Moreover, they must ensure good skin contact and position them at least two finger-widths apart.

For further relief in labour, pregnant women can use multiple TENS units at once. This is especially true for wireless devices. They can place one set of electrodes on the lower back, while another set is on the hips. This is helpful because they can move around more freely, while still accessing pain relief from two different sources. However, TENS is not advisable to use while sleeping.

It is essential for expectant mothers to not attach the pads to their pregnant belly or abdomen. While using TENS may help with labour pain management, it can be dangerous if applied directly to the abdomen. The electrical stimulation from the machine can increase contractions and cause distress to the baby. This can potentially lead to complications.

When to Stop Using the Device

Expectant mothers should know when to stop using TENS. As the birthing process progresses, the intensity of contractions and pain levels may increase. It is recommended to stop using the machine once the woman enters active labour, as it may no longer provide sufficient relief.

In addition, if the patient decides to use other forms of pain relief, such as an epidural, it is necessary to discontinue the use of the TENS machine. It is advised to consult with a medical practitioner or healthcare provider for guidance if they have any more questions or concerns.


TENS is beneficial during all stages of labour. The relief provided by the electrical nerve stimulation can reduce the intensity of contractions and make the pain more manageable. Additionally, using a TENS machine during labour enhances the release of endorphins. Thus, it can naturally provide a sense of control and a greater sense of comfort. This form of pain relief is non-invasive and has minimal side effects. This is why it is an in-demand choice for many women in labour.

Many medical professionals recommend TENS. Women can utilise it alongside other pain relief methods, such as breathing techniques. TENS devices are also commonly used for relief from chronic pain or sports injuries, showcasing their versatility in providing comfort for a variety of conditions. Ultimately, a TENS unit offers a safe and effective option for those seeking relief during the intense and often challenging experience of labour. People can acquire one by checking online stores or visiting pharmacies.

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