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What is TENS?

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.

How TENS works

TENS sends a very small electric current through the skin which stimulates your body’s own natural defences against pain. TENS is totally safe, has been used by thousands of expectant mothers and is recommended by midwives.

Pain Gate

The sensory nerves which carry touch and temperature signals are stimulated. These nerves go to the same connections in the spine as the nerves carrying pain. A strong sensory signal will block the pain signal travelling up the spine to the brain, this is known as the “Pain Gate”.

Endorphin Release

At low frequency settings, and slightly stronger output, TENS drives the motor nerves to produce a small repetitive muscle contraction. This is seen by the brain as exercise, and this promotes release of Endorphins – your body’s own natural pain killer. The relief builds up and normally takes about 40 minutes to reach a maximum level which can last for hours.

When you can use TENS?

You can use TENS at home as soon as your contraction pain starts, and take it to hospital with you. Just remember to take it off if you use a birthing pool!

After you have had your baby, if you are in pain consider using the unit, as it will give you relief. Even if you had a caesarean you can use the unit to give you relief from pain afterwards.

The advantages of TENS

The advantages of using TENS during childbirth include:

  • Totally safe
  • Allows mother to control her pain relief
  • No effect on the baby
  • Allows mother to be mobile during labour

Side effects

There are no known side effects from TENS use, and long term stimulation is not harmful.

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