TENS for Pregnancy, Labour & Postpartum Recovery
Pregnancy can be a pain in the butt. Literally!
A TENS machine can provide relief at home. You can use it in pregnancy, labour and postpartum healing.
How to Use TENS during Labour
Most frequently TENS is used in early labour and may be continued throughout.
Make sure the machine is turned off before putting on the electrodes. Place the electrodes on the small of your back - just above the bony back dimples and the other below your bra strap line. TENS shouldn't be used on your abdomen while there's a bubs inside, but can be for afterbirth pains.
Turn on the machine and turn up the intensity. You are in control to find your sweet spot. Some women find relief straight away and some find it takes an hour.
When you feel a surge or tightening (also called a contraction), press the boost button for added relief. Boost buttons are unique to birthing TENS units.
Sometimes when your baby’s heart and the uterus are monitored, then the TENS may need to be turned off or removed.
How I personally used TENS during my drug free labours?
I won’t lie. I had zero intention of using a TENS. I don’t like the tingling sensation that a TENS produces. My midwife kept suggesting it.
I used TENS for the final hour of my first birth. Turns out that I loved the boost button to give me a sense of control. I used the boost button with the visualisation of turning down the intensity of uncomfortable sensations, like pressing a mute button on a remote.
I used the TENS when I didn't feel like I was coping with my first labour. My plan was to do the same for my second but I never reached that point.
Benefits of TENS Machine During Pregnancy Journey
- Drug free
- Pain relief in birth without any reported side effects
- You can still move around unlike some other pain relief options
- Can be used with other techniques like hands on work, deep breathing, visualisations or epidurals and gas during labour
- You're in control
Pregnancy & Labour TENS machines available for purchase or hire from our clinic or delivered to your door.
How does a TENS machine work?
If you hit your funny bone, you rub it better. That's how a TENS machine works. It’s like rubbing the sore spot better.
Let me explain that further - the technical side of how a TENS works.
TENS machines send very small, safe electrical signals through the skin. It may feel like a prickling or tingling sensation. Your brain can only "listen" to so many messages at once so your brain "feels" the tingling sensations more than the pain sensations.
You're in complete control of the buzzing sensations. You can turn the intensity up or down. You can ramp up the intensity for surges (hypnobirthing talk for contractions).
While using a TENS machine, it also releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These further reduce discomfort.
Is TENS Safe During Pregnancy?
TENS is likely safe to use for your shoulder pain, leg cramps and more but not everyone can use a TENS machine for their own reasons. Never use a TENS over your belly and always ask your healthcare provider before use.
Your pregnancy chiropractor can tell you where you can safely use the TENS, how to use it and what settings to use. They’ll also give you exercises to complement the muscle relaxation from the TENS.
Some reasons to not use a TENS machine:
- Don't use over your belly: only place on your back or other places around your body where you need relief
- Pacemaker: if you have one, don't use a TENS
- When in water: bath, shower or birthing pool
- Over open wounds: ouch!
We always recommend checking with your doctor or healthcare team before trying anything new. TENS is no exception.
TENS for Afterbirth Pains
After giving birth, your stretched out uterus continues to contract to reach its pre-pregnancy size. This is not comfortable!
Now that you have given birth, you can use the electrodes straight over the belly - directly on top of the smooth muscles of the uterus.
Use the TENS as a standalone or couple it with continued breastfeeding, heat and magnesium.