Using a TENS Machine for Labor Pain: Is It For You?

Originally Published on August 27, 2020 Pregnancy | By Sara Lindberg

Reducing pain during labor is a top priority for most moms-to-be. But given the limited options for managing pain, some pregnant people seek a more natural approach that doesn’t involve the use of medications.

And that’s why some parents-to-be are curious about the safety and effectiveness of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit.

A TENS machine or unit is a small device, often battery operated, that is used to manage both acute and chronic pain.

The unit has wires connected to electrodes that are placed on the skin. The electrodes deliver low voltage electrical currents to targeted body parts to control pain signals in the body.

A practitioner familiar with TENS therapy places the electrodes at or near the nerves where the pain is located. These electrical currents or impulses can create short-term or long-term relief from pain.

Experts say TENS therapy works in a couple of different ways. The first belief is that the electrical impulses affect the nervous system reducing its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. But they also say that electrical impulses can stimulate the body to produce endorphins, a neurotransmitter that can help relieve pain.

“TENS unit use has been known to alleviate period, joint, back, endometriosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, sports injuries, and postoperative pain,” says Sherry Ross, MD, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.

It’s essential that you do your homework when choosing a TENS unit. Ross recommends looking for one that has a reliable and good track record with a strong output intensity and with sufficient electrical impulses.

“The higher the numbers, the more helpful it will be to alleviate the pain,” Ross says. | | | Next → |

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