So what is a TENS machine?
stands for Transcutaneous Electrical
Nerve Stimulation and provides
drug-free pain relief. This can be used for all sorts of pain but has
been found to be especially effective for pain during labour when
using a specialised obstetric TENS machine.
TENS machine sends small, safe pulses of electrical current via leads
to electrode pads which are attached to your skin and held in place
by a firm gel. The pulses pass through your skin and into your
muscles and tissues. This gives you a gentle tingling or buzzing
sensation. The intensity of pulses can be increased or lowered based
on the pain being experienced.
does a TENS machine reduce pain?
TENS machine works to reduce your experience of pain a number of
does TENS feel like?
women describe the feeling of TENS as a tingling, or buzzing
sensation. The obstetric TENS has specialised waves of this sensation
that feels similar to a rumbling massage on your lower back.
used correctly the TENS should never been painful, although the
device is very powerful and can be uncomfortable if ramped up to a
high setting too quickly. Correct use involves slowly increasing the
intensity of the pulses as your brain readjusts to the sensation.
A regular TENS machine from a chemist or Physio
is great for painful joints etc but is missing a vital function –
the boost button! Without this element a TENS machine is not an
obstetric TENS, and you can’t amplify the pain fighting sensation
during contractions so it’s going to be nowhere near as effective
for your birth.
should I use a TENS machine?
can use TENS from the very beginning of your labour. You could start
using it when you’re getting regular contractions or backache. TENS
is most likely to be effective in early labour, and is most
effectively used during later stages of labour when applied early.
do I use a TENS machine while in labour?
step-by-step guide to using a TENS machine during labour:
Check the machine is turned off before placing
the pads on your back. It’s best to have another person such as
your birth partner place the pads on your back for you. Do NOT
place the pads on your abdomen.
two of the electrode pads on either side of your spine, with the
tops of the pads at about bra-strap level.
the other two lower down, from just below your panty line up.
the machine on, starting with the controls at the lowest setting.
them up gradually as your contractions get stronger, or when the
pain in your back gets worse.
the boost button during contractions. The boost function results in
more intense, wave-like tingling or buzzing sensations.
to turn off the boost button again when the contraction has ended.
This is so you feel the benefit of the boost next time you have a
give up straight away if you think TENS isn’t doing anything. You
may need to keep using it for at least an hour before it starts to
work for you.
the pads start to lose their stickiness, rub a few drops of water
into the gel side of the pads before putting them back on. The more
firmly the pads are stuck on, the better they’ll work.
you don’t think the pads are helping you after a while, take them
off. You are in control of your labour and what is working for you.
All other forms of pain relief, both medical and non-medical, are
still open to you.
your Elle TENS Plus as soon as you receive it. Familiarising yourself
with the unit and its functions will make for a more stress-free
experience when your labour begins. If you have any problems or
questions make sure you contact us ASAP so we can make sure you have
everything you need for a great birthing experience.
shouldn’t I use a TENS Machine?
use a TENS machine under the following circumstances, without talking
to a midwife or doctor first:
Before you are 36 weeks pregnant.
you’re in a shower, bath, or birth pool.
you have broken skin or a healing scar where you want to place the
you have a cardiac pacemaker or a heart rhythm problem.
you have pain that you don’t think is labour pain. See your doctor
or midwife if this is the case.
another part of your body than your lower back as pictures in the
are the advantages of a TENS machine?
You can keep moving around while using it.
can use it for as long as you want to and take it off if you want or
are no lasting side-effects.
safe for you and your baby.
don't need an anaesthetist, doctor or midwife to help you use it.
portable and non-invasive.
easy to use.
are the disadvantages of a TENS machine?
You probably won’t be able to put the pads
in place without help.
may find it only gives you relief in the early stages of labour.
can’t be used in water, though you can still use it before you get
in a bath or birth pool.
you want your birth partner to massage your back, they will have to
work around the pads.
will not be able to use a heat pack on your back as it will erode
the stickiness of the pads, you can use a heat pack on your lower
When during my labour do I use it?
It is recommended to use the TENS as soon as
contractions become regular. This is likely to be before the
contractions are really painful, but don't hold on to the TENS for
later when you are feeling uncomfortable. It will work better if you
begin to use it earlier rather than later, giving those pain-fighting
endorphins time to build with the strength of your contractions.
Can I use the TENS machine with water?
No, you cannot use the tens machine in the bath
or shower as the machine uses electrical pulses to stimulate your
nervous system. However, the TENS can be used safely with any other
pain relief method or medication. If you would like to use water as a
part of your birth plan, we recommend using the TENS during early
labour and progressing to water later, especially if you want to have
a water birth.
Will my electrode pads stay sticky?
The electrode pads provided are designed to be
re-usable, meaning you can take them off and then reapply them. Just
be sure to pop them back onto the film they arrived attached to when
you are not wearing them. Residual oil or moisture on your skin will
start to erode the stickiness of your pads, so if you are in and out
of the shower several times, or sweating, make sure to dry your back
completely before reapplying.
You can 'revive' the stickiness of your pads by
brushing over with a damp fabric cloth. Additional electrode pads are
also available for purchase.
If I don't use my TENS, can I have a refund?
We understand that babies and birth are always
your TENS hasn't been collected yet, you can let us know to cancel
your order without charge. However, since the TENS Hire is a service,
if there is no issue with a faulty machine or if you choose not to
use the machine or are unable to use it, we have provided the service
and therefore cannot provide refunds.
Interested in hire of an Elle Tens machines? See the Elle TENS Hire Policy