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  • Writer's pictureNutured Birth Ottawa

The benefits of using a TENS Machine for Labour


Pregnant woman in green bra with TENS Machine attached to her back. She is leaning over a birth pool.

Have you heard of TENS machines? In recent years, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machines have become increasingly popular as a form of pain relief during labor. In this blog, we will explore what a TENS machine is, how it works, and how it can be used during labor.


What is a TENS machine?

TENS machines are small electronic devices that use electrical currents to stimulate the nerves in your body. They work by sending low voltage electrical impulses to specific areas of your body through electrodes that are attached to your skin. The impulses stimulate the nerve fibers that carry pain signals, blocking them and producing a tingling sensation that reduces the perception of pain.


TENS machines have been used for decades as a form of pain relief for chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis and back pain. However, they are becoming increasingly popular for use during labor as they offer a non-invasive, medication-free alternative to traditional pain relief methods.


How Does a TENS Machine Work?

It is thought that the electrical impulses produced by the TENS machine stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. Endorphins are released by the body in response to pain and stress and are believed to have a similar effect to morphine.


TENS machines are also believed to work by stimulating the gate control theory of pain. This theory suggests that the brain can only process a limited amount of pain signals at once. By stimulating the nerve fibers that carry non-painful signals, such as the tingling sensation produced by a TENS machine, it is believed that the pain signals are blocked and unable to reach the brain.


Using a TENS Machine During Labor

During labour, electrodes are placed on the skin of the low back area and the machine delivers pulses of electric current to the body. TENS machines have many different levels of electrical current strength to choose from, allowing the birthing person to customize the strength that feels best for them.


These settings are designed to gradually increase the intensity of the machine over a period of time, mimicking the natural progression of labor. Some machines also have a boost button that can be used during contractions to provide additional pain relief.


TENS machines have been clinically studied and proven to reduce pain in labouring women significantly.


Benefits of Using a TENS Machine During Labor

There are many benefits to using a TENS machine during labor. Some of these benefits include:


1. Non-invasive and Drug-free: TENS machines offer a non-invasive, drug-free alternative to traditional pain relief methods. This is particularly beneficial for birthers who wish to avoid the use of medications during labor.


2. Safe and Effective: TENS machines are considered safe and effective for use during labor. They have no known side effects and can be used alongside other forms of pain relief

3. Sense of Control: One of the key benefits of using a TENS machine during labor is that it provides a sense of control over their pain relief. The woman in labor can control the intensity of the machine and can adjust it as needed to provide optimal pain relief.


4. Mobility: Unlike other forms of pain relief, such as an epidural, TENS machines do not restrict movement or require the labouring person to lie down. This allows the ability move around freely and adopt different positions, which can help to alleviate pain and make labor more comfortable.


Sounds amazing doesn't it? You know what is even better? A few of our Nurtured Birth doulas have TENS machine that we make available to clients who are interested!!


As Doulas in Ottawa, our team services the Ottawa and Gatineau area. As passionate birth workers it is our mission to support you in having an empowered and transformative birth experience. Interested in scheduling in for a doula discovery call with a member from our team? Contact us to book your free call!


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