Some women find that a TENS machine can be helpful for managing pain during labour. Women can even start using a TENS machine at home before going into hospital.
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a method of pain relief. It works by the use of low-voltage electrical impulses that are thought to affect how pain signals are sent to the brain (the technique may also stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers).
TENS is administered via a small, battery-powered device that has leads connected to sticky pads (electrodes) which you attach to the skin on your back. You then give yourself small amounts of current through the electrodes, producing a buzzing or tingling sensation.
There are no known side effects for either mother or baby, and a TENS machine lets women be mobile while controlling their own pain relief. However, if you have a bath or shower during labour, you will have to remove the machine.
If you’re interested in using a TENS machine, you can buy them or hire one from many physiotherapists, some pharmacies or online. There are many types of TENS machines available, however it is best to use one that is specifically designed for labour such as Elle TENS or FreeMom Tens. Please speak to your WOGS obstetrician if you have any questions about using TENS machines or pain relief options.