TENS: friend or foe

If you are worried about coping with the sensations of labour, adding electric shocks in to the mix may seem like torture rather than relief! Nevertheless many women find TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) very helpful – particularly in early labour.

Little pads stuck on your back deliver small electric shocks on to your skin. You can control the strength of these by twiddling a dial (or pressing a button if you’ve got a fancy one) – just make sure your partner knows which way to twiddle or you could get a bit of a surprise.

The shocks confuse your nerve pathways, distracting them from the sensations of labour. They also speed up your body’s natural production of endorphins  – your very own morphine!

If you want to give TENS a try it is most effective when used as early as possible – your body seems to need to get used to the TENS from your early contractions and if you introduce it when you are quite far in to labour it doesn’t seem to be as useful.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another thing to add to your ever increasing shopping list – TENS machines are easily hired from loads of places. Have a quick google (or ask your friendly Doula if she can recommend somewhere). Of course if you are on your second labour, you know it works for you and you are planning another couple (or eight or nine) little ones, you may want to invest!

In the end you may get on brilliantly with TENS or you may find it doesn’t really work for you, but it may be a useful tool to have in your labour kit just in case. If nothing else it gives your partner something to be in charge of when you go in to labour!

3 Responses to “TENS: friend or foe”
  1. For me as a Doula few mothers have found the TENS useful I never suggest it self but get many questions about it. I work basicly with 4 steps breathing ( as you do when you feel safe) . Letting Go of all the tens in the muscules . Positive thinking (affirmation , positiv pictures, moments . Massage hopes with deep sound and LOT of yeah all of i drawning in love and trust. Doula- here for you in Sweden, having alot of English speakibg couples & singel mums since I speak far better Than i Write 🙂

  2. Julie says:

    It does seem to be very much a personal preference – I know a lot of people who hated TENS machines. Personally, I used one during my first labour, and did find it helpful – although to be honest, I think this was mainly down to the distraction that fiddling with it caused! I didn’t use it the second time around -mainly due to being too disorganised to arrange one in advance! However, I didn’t necessarily feel I missed it.

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