As you know, at She Births® we cover a whole range of natural pain relief techniques which ultimately empower mums to experience a safer, faster and more natural birth, and enable partners to provide effective support.

The TENS machine is one of my favourites!

It can be such a great tool for the beginning of labour, which often allows mum to come into her body and labour alone, usually while partner is sleeping and she is pre-labouring. Most women progress from a heat pack in bed to movement with the TENS and then into the shower, then bath but sometimes I have even seen women keep their TENS on for the whole of labour, even during second stage if it is a posterior birth.

I reckon the TENS machine is a must-have tool for every woman. They make great contraction timers and they don’t block your natural endorphins or oxytocin levels. You will definitely want it on your lower back when driving to the hospital and you can even get one that helps your pelvic floor repair post birth.

This week, Nicole Ronay Sundin, the founder of Birth Partner, chats to us about TENS machines – how they work and when to use them, the benefits, and how you can use a TENS post-birth to support your recovery.

Birth Partner offers a range of birth and baby products for sale and hire including TENS machines, co-sleepers, breastfeeding pillows, perineal cold packs, bassinets, breast pumps, baby carriers, baby wraps and more.

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What is a TENS machine and how does it work?

A TENS machine is a battery-operated device that can provide pain relief during labour.  Using the Pain Gate Theory, it sends a pulsing sensation via your skin which disrupts the pain signal to the brain from your contractions.   In the UK, 1 in 3 women use TENS during their labour.  It is definitely gaining popularity here in Australia as well.  Make sure you use a TENS machine that is specifically designed for use in labour – these are much easier to use than a standard TENS machine used by physics, and also will have a Boost Button to help during your contractions.

When and how do you use a TENS during labour? Does it block any natural endorphins?

Attaching the TENS machine as soon as your labour starts enables it to start building your natural endorphins as well to help you during your labour.  Attach the pads to your back, and use the Boost Button (which changes the sensation) during your contractions.

What are the benefits of using a TENS during labour?

TENS is small, non-invasive and portable, and can help you to have a drug-free labour.  It can be used in conjunction with other pain relief methods, including heat packs, massage and gas.  A Swedish study found that TENS was the only pain relief required by 70% of labouring women.  It can be used during an induction (I used only a TENS machine, in conjunction with vocalising and movement to birth my third bubba who was induced by drip).

How can a TENS be used post-birth to support recovery?

TENS can be used after your labour to help with any after pains you may be experiencing.  It can also be used if you are having troubles with your back or shoulders due to breastfeeding.  The new Elle TENS Plus has a special pelvic floor toner function to help stimulate your pelvic floor, assist with any incontinence you may experience.

Love and gratitude,
Nadine xxx

P.S. Did you use a TENS machine for your birth? We’d love to hear your birth story! Get in touch.

Photo credit: Nicole Monet