TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. In essence, it is a device that sends low electrical impulses and therefore reduces pain during labour. The first and foremost, these machines have been approved by the FDA, meaning they are safe to use. There were no side effects recorded nor to mothers nor to babies.
It is really impressive how these machines work. By sending low electrical impulses through the skin, and stimulating nerves, they create a similar effect when exercising. This releases endorphins, which tweak your brain and give you ‘’feel good’’ feelings. Most of these machines will reach the full potential in 40 minutes, but the effect will last for a few hours.
When should you start using a TENS machine?
The simplest answer is as soon the labour begins. There is absolutely no risk of starting to use it when the first contractions start. On the other side, there is no limit how long you can use it. Most of them have lithium-ion batteries that can last for 10 hours.
It is important to mention that these machines must be removed in a case of using a birth pool. The pads will get wet, so they will have to be removed.
Even if you have started using a maternity TENS machine a few hours before the labour, it is safe to continue using it as long as labour lasts. Even in this case, there are no risks to you or your baby. This is a safe claim, due to the fact TENS devices have been tested in countless studies and the results are positive. Keep in mind that 1 in 5 women uses this device and most of them are perfectly satisfied.
A mother is able to control the machine
One of many reasons why these machines are popular and commonly used is the fact a mother can control it. Each model comes with a control unit where different settings can be applied. It is possible to choose the massage type, the strength of the impulses, duration (timer) and to make additional adjustments, all in goal for reaching the maximum potential of the pain relief benefit.
This brings us to the second ability, which is more than just desirable. Some TENS machines come with massage modes. Usually, the number varies between 4-24 and it is easy to choose the desired one, using the already mentioned pad controller. Some of the preferred massage modes include tapping, acupuncture, tuina, cupping, deep tissue massage, shiatsu and etc. Maternity-related models usually have fewer massage modes than those designed for general purposes. However, different bodies react differently on massages, so this is a desirable feature.
Alternative to medical pain relief
Most mothers decide to use medical pain relief alternatives during labour. None of those methods is 100% safe. Most of them won’t help, but they are still very dangerous to use. Still, women prefer this method in order to make a labour less painful.
There were several surveys conducted regarding TENS machines and their usage. By 2019, the same number of mothers will use them as those who choose medical pain relief methods. Still, TENS machines are a much safer choice, for mothers and babies. As we mentioned, they don’t have negative effects on the health nor safety of both, mothers and babies. As such, they are a much better alternative.
Most mothers who used them claim that being able to control the strength of the impulses actually helps to relieve the pain. The best part, however, is that all users recorded positive results (it is needed to adjust the machine according to personal needs).
Besides the fact the pain relief is guaranteed, the labour movement isn’t restricted! Doctors allow the use of TENS machines and a high number of them actually recommends them, especially to new mothers.
The bottom line
The answer to the question we had at the beginning is simple. Yes, TENS machines actually work and they actually relieve pain. The method that is used isn’t invasive, nor does it have any drawbacks. It is an important fact being certain that you and your newborn will be perfectly safe, but the pain will be reduced. Thanks to high success rates, TENS machine became very popular in the United States and Europe. We honestly believe that they will become even more popular/needed in the close future. After all, every safe way to get pain relief is a good way.