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What is a TENS Machine? A drug-free birth option

29 Jun, 2024

Pain during labour is a universal experience and is often felt in different ways for different women. While there are various methods to manage it, many mothers seek natural alternatives to medication. As expectant parents seek holistic approaches, the allure of TENS machines lies in their ability to offer a natural, non-invasive solution for managing labour pains. Within this blog, we embark on a journey to uncover the remarkable potential of TENS machine technology, discovering its ability to grant both comfort and control during childbirth. Join us in unravelling the promise that TENS machines hold in revolutionizing the childbirth experience, empowering individuals with a newfound choice in their pain management journey.

How TENS machines work: unravelling the science
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive pain relief method that utilises a small, battery operated, portable electronic device that operates by delivering mild electrical impulses to the body through electrode pads placed on the skin. These electrodes, often adhesive pads, are strategically placed, typically near the site of discomfort to provide localised relief. The electrical impulses generated by the TENS machine work by stimulating the nerves in the area where the electrode pads are applied. This stimulation serves multiple purposes in mitigating pain perception.

TENS machine use during childbirth:
A natural pain relief alternative
Benefits and Contraindications of TENS for expectant parents: Empowerment and comfort
Using a TENS machine during labour offers several benefits:
Non invasive pain relief
Control and empowerment
Mobility and Flexibility
Safe for mother and baby
Reduction in pain perception

While TENS machines are generally safe and well tolerated, there are also some contraindications and considerations to be aware of when considering its use:

• Pacemakers or Implanted devices:
TENS machines may interfere with the functioning of pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, or other electronic devices. It’s crucial to avoid using TENS if you have these implants without prior consultation with a healthcare professional

• Epilepsy or seizure disorders:
The electrical impulses from a TENS machine might trigger seizures in individuals with epilepsy or certain seizure disorders. Precaution should be take and usage discussed with a healthcare provider in these cases

• Pregnancy locations:
Avoid using the TENS machine of the abdomen during the first trimester of pregnancy, especially near the developing foetus, as there is limited research on its effects during this crucial stage

• Active labour near water:
TENS machines should not be used by someone actively labouring in water, such as a birthing pool, bath, or shower, due to the risk of electrical hazard and electrocution

• Undiagnosed Pain:
Using a TENS machine to mask undiagnosed pain can potentially delay proper diagnoses and treatment of underlying conditions. It’s more important to determine the cause of pain before using TENS

• Skin condition or sensitivities:
Individuals with skin conditions or sensitivities may experience skin irritation or adverse reactions at the electrode sites used for TENS machine

• Near mucous membranes or eyes:
Avoid placing electrodes near sensitive areas like the eyes, mouth, throat, over mucous membranes or broken skin.

Applying TENS for birth: Techniques and Best Practices
Mastering the art of using the TENS during childbirth involves a blend of technique and understanding best practices. The key lies not just in attaching the electrode pads but in strategic placement on the lower back, strategically targeting areas affected by labour pains. Experimentation and practice is vital - finding the sweet spot for electrode positioning that offers the most relief is an individual journey. Labouring women may need help from another person to position the pads correctly, to avoid them covering the spine or overlapping. Equally important is fine-tuning the intensity of electrical pulses: a delicate balance between effectiveness and comfort. Introducing the TENS machine early in labour allows for a gradual build-up, easing the experience as contractions intensify.

TENS machine selection guide: Finding the right fit
At TENS Hire Perth we only stock the Elle TENS machines. The Elle TENS machine range is Australia's most trusted, reliable and recognised electrotherapy devices, for labour, incontinence, general pain relief and injury recovery. The Elle TENS have 3 devices available. See the image to compare their features and read more for more information. The majority of our stock is the Elle TENS 2, however we do carry small amount of the Elle TENS and Elle TENS Plus units. The device you will receive for hire will depend on stock levels at the time.

Conclusion: Embracing a drug free birth with TENS technology
While a TENS machine might not completely eliminate labour pains, it can significantly reduce its intensity, offering a more manageable and comfortable experience for many mothers. Always remember to consult with health care providers before using any pain relief method during childbirth. In the quest for natural pain management during labour, TENS machines have emerged as a promising solution, providing relied without the need for medication. Their non-invasive nature and ease of use make them an appealing choice for women seeking alternative methods for a smoother childbirth experience

Real Experiences: Testimonials on using TENS during birth
"Pick up and drop off was simple and easy and Laura is lovely. The instructions provided with the TENS machine are clear and simple to follow. We did one practice run before labour which I strongly recommend. Thankyou for what you do supplying to birthing women" - Tymikka

Article provided by TENS Hire Perth whom will be at PBC BABY Expo, Melbourne, July 2024.

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