Electric fish, needles and angry catfish.  What do these things have in common?  Well, these were electrical stimulus used by the ancients for pain relief and while we don’t have any angry catfish from the Nile in our doula bags, we do have a TENS machine.   We offer each of our clients the use of our TENS machines.  The TENS (or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) works by countering the pain you are feeling with a different “pain” that fools your brain into ignoring or downplaying the original pain.

Advantages

When using the TENS, you are in control of your pain management.  You decide how high to turn up the machine, when to use it and when to take it off.  While using the TENS, you have the freedom to move around with it on.  The TENS can delay or prevent the need for other pain medication.  The TENS can be turned off at anytime and restarted if you wish.  Finally, there are NO known side effects on labor or on baby.  

Disadvantages

Of course, the TENS is not as effective in relief of pain as the epidural, but if you are trying to avoid an epidural, it is a great tool.  Your doula cannot massage the area where the TENS is applied.  You cannot use the TENS machine in the presence of flammable gasses like Oxygen. It works best if it is started in early labor.  Finally, some people just don’t find it helpful or like the feeling.  You would have to try it to see what you think.

Who Should Not Use the TENS

The TENS should not be used prior to 37 weeks gestation.  If you have injured, inflamed skin due to a rash, acne or eczema, the TENs shouldn’t be used. It may cause more inflamation.  If you have a cardiac pacemaker, you should NOT use the TENS.  If you have a seizure disorder, the TENS is not for you. It is a good rule of thumb to check with your care provider before using the TENS.

Things to Consider While Using the TENS

Don’t use the TENS in the shower, the tub or the birth pool. Avoid storing the TENS or using it around high heat. Do your best not to drop it (Hint: we give a handy lanyard to wear it on so it is always close by!). Don’t throw out the pads if you take it off at one point in labor; you may want to put it on again.

How Can We Help?

The TENS has many different features and the one our clients like the best is the “BOOST” button. Each time you have a contraction, you push this button and a new pattern occurs to offer relief.  The TENS is super easy to use and we want you to have the best experience so when you work with us, we look forward to sharing this amazing tool with you for your labor experience. Contact us today to see how we can help with pain relief during your labor! 

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