Labor Tools: TENS Machine
What it is:
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS has been successful used by physical therapists when treating chronic pain, and is now used during labor.
How it works:
A TENS unit will generate electrical impulses that are used to reduce pain. Four flexible pads are attached to the skin of your back, and the control unit is held in your hand. During a contraction, you can turn on the current and adjust the strength until it is comfortable to you.
TENS is completely controlled by the mother, giving you the ability to increase or decrease the current according to your needs. TENS can provide a good option for women who expect to be alone for part or most of labor.
TENS does not interfere with your ability to try other comfort measures. The pads will need to be removed to use the shower or tub, but they can be reapplied after your skin is dry.
How to do it:
If your midwife or doula does not have a TENS unit, contact a physical therapist. You can rent the unit, and the physical therapist will show you and your labor support how to properly use the machine.
Adjust the current according to your needs. Turn the current off between contractions.
Continue to change positions and work with your body to labor while using TENS.