Pain Relief through TENS During Childbirth


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There are a number of different effective methods of relieving the pain of childbirth, and of these a growingly popular choice is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). There are many alternatives to TENS of course, but this small and unassuming device provides an easy to use and effective method of taking control of your own pain relief during childbirth.

What is TENS?

TENS is little more than a small device which passes electricity through your skin to block any pain signals making their way to your brain. Pain is essentially a signal your body sends to your brain by means of your nerves, which serve as tiny biological electrical relays. By stimulating your nerves TENS blocks this pain signal, and so is an effective form of relieving pain without the use of any drugs or medications.

How is TENS used?

You will usually need to receive a bit of training from your midwife or doctor about how to effectively use the TENS equipment. That being said it is quite easy to use and you should be able to pick it up quite quickly. All you need to do is place four little attachments called electrodes on certain places on your back. Two electrodes are placed above your bum, while two others are placed higher up on your back, just before your ribs.

These electrodes are connected to a small hand piece by means of some wire, and this control unit will be what you use to operate TENS.

Is TENS safe?

You might be understandably daunted by the prospect of applying any electrical charge to yourself, but fortunately TENS is a well-established tool that is recognised as being quite safe. TENS generally feels like a buzzing sensation, and if you ever feel any kind of pain you should turn down the intensity settings or stop using the device. TENS is not a strong enough device to induce any kind of electrocution, so it is quite safe on that front.

When should I use TENS?

TENS is a useful method of pain relief for anyone who is going into labour. It is an effective way of relieving back pain during labour as well. You might be advised to start using TENS earlier on in labour as it can make the whole experience much more bearable.

You should never use the TENS or any other electrical device in either tubs or showers, any contact between electricity and wet surfaces can be very dangerous. You also shouldn’t use TENS if you experience any kind of skin irritation when you apply the electrodes to your skin. The glue which holds the electrodes to your skin can potentially cause some irritation.

TENS isn’t for everyone, which is why having a back up source of pain relief is a good idea. More information on this is available from your doctor or midwife.

Where can I get TENS equipment?

TENS has grown quite popular, and you can usually get the unit from a number of websites and pharmacies. You can sometimes get the TENS through prescriptions from your antenatal care team (your doctor or midwife).


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