taniar82 (1681.7 days ago) TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS machine consists of a small box, about the size of an audio-cassette case with a clip on the back so you can attach it to the belt of your dressing gown (or whatever you are wearing in labour). The machine gives out little pulses of electrical energy. Leading out of the box are four wires connected to sticky pads. You place the pads on your back - get your midwife or birth companion to do this for you. If your birth companion is helping you, he or she should follow the instructions which you will have received with the TENS machine.
Two of the pads are placed on either side of your spine at about bra-strap level. The other two go lower down, at about the level of the dimples in your bottom. The pads are covered in a gel to help the electrical pulses pass through your skin more easily. The TENS machine has dials that you can adjust to control the frequency and strength of the pulses. There`s also a boost button for you to hold in your hand and press when you want maximum output from the machine to help you with a difficult contraction.
How does a TENS machine work?
The pulses prevent the pain signals from your womb and cervix from reaching your brain and also stimulate your body to release its own, natural `feel good` substances, called endorphins.
When should I use TENS?
TENS works best if you start using it at the very beginning of your labour because it takes about an hour for your body to respond to the electrical impulses by releasing endorphins. Hire a TENS machine and use it at home before you go into hospital - very few hospitals provide TENS units.
What are the advantages?
• Portable, non-invasive and entirely under your control
• Easy to use
• Doesn`t stop you being mobile
• Use it for as long as you want and then take it off - no lasting side-effects
• Not thought to have any effect on babies
• Can be used for a home birth