The births of your babies will be memories that last forever, and it just makes sense to prepare for the birth as much as you can. Although it’s definitely true that things may not go to plan, the more you’re aware of the process and what to expect, the better. Figuring out some ways to help yourself cope with labour pain is a really great idea, and one of the best ways to do that is to use TENS in labour. Read on for 10 really good reasons to use a TENS machine in labour:
#1 TENS reduces the pain of labour
We’ll start with the most important and obvious reason – using a TENS machine in labour will reduce pain! TENS works by sending little electrical pulses through electrode pads that you stick on your back. The pulses interfere with the pain signals that your body is receiving from contractions to stop them reaching your brain AND also trigger your body to produce more endorphins – it’s a double whammy. There are a host of studies that have shown that women who use TENS in labour report less pain. It’s probably obvious why this is a good thing!
#2 TENS is totally natural & non-invasive
Because this process is not introducing anything (like a drug) into your body, and works by using your body’s own natural systems, it’s totally non-invasive. There’s nothing foreign going into your body, no needles, drugs or anything else, just some gentle electrical pulses working with your body’s own systems to reduce pain.
#3 There are no side effects (unlike with drugs)
TENS works to reduce labour pain by boosting your body’s natural pain relievers, endorphins, and by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Because there is nothing artificial entering your body, there are no side effects at all – you won’t be drowsy, or lose use of your legs (like with an epidural) or risk having an adverse reaction. It’s great that pain medication is available for women who need or want to use them in labour, but they do have side effects.
#4 You can use TENS at home in early labour
If you hire a TENS machine and have it delivered when you’re around 37 weeks, you will have the TENS machine at home with you when you go into labour. This means you can pop it on as soon as your contractions start getting a little bite-y. Some women have the idea that it’s good to ‘save’ pain relief until further in labour, but this is not the case with TENS! In fact, the sooner you start using it, the more endorphins it will help build and the more effective it will be. In fact, studies have shown that women who use TENS machines stay at home for longer and are further along in labour when they do go to hospital.
#5 You can remain active and move around
Keeping upright and mobile in labour can really help labour progress. A downside of many forms of labour pain relief is that have to lie down, be monitored – even in a birthing pool you no longer have gravity to help you! Using TENS you will be able to remain upright, walk around, lean against walls and stay active in whatever way makes sense for you.
#6 TENS can help with prelabour
Prelabour…. don’t you love it. Some women experience prelabour for days (even weeks!) before labour really kicks off. This can be exhausting and take a toll. If this is you, talk to your care provider about getting started with the TENS machine to help keep you comfortable during prelabour. Being well rested when labour starts will help.
#7 It’s totally under your control
TENS is not something you have to rely on anyone else to provide or administer to you. You decide when you want to start using your TENS machine in labour and you decide when to administer the ‘boost’ button during contractions to give yourself an extra dose. Having things under your own control like this during labour can really help, not just with pain relief but psychologically.
#8 You can use TENS with afterpains
You may or may not be aware of the whole afterpains thing. Afterpains are mild contractions (well, they feel mild compared to what you just experienced in labour, but can have a little kick to them) that are caused by the uterus contracting back to its original (smaller) state. You’ll often experience afterpains when you’re breastfeeding. Using a TENS machine is a brilliant way to smooth out afterpains and help you stay relaxed, which is something you definitely want when navigating the first days of breastfeeding.
#9 TENS won’t interfere at all with breastfeeding
Unfortunately, if you have pain meds in labour (especially opiate based, like pethidine / anaesthesia) then your baby can be a little drowsy when born which can cause some interference with the process of getting breastfeeding started. Having a wide awake bub whose instincts are right on point for seeking out and latching onto the boob does help with starting to breastfeed. (If you do end up using pain meds in labour, don’t think it means you won’t be able to breastfeed – but it does mean your baby may be drowsy and need more encouragement to latch on and feed).
#10 You can use TENS for pelvic & lower back pain
Most women reach the last month of pregnancy a little achey and sore. The lower back may be feeling the effects of that extra weight and your pelvis can really cause a lot of pain, especially when walking or sleeping. Check with your care provider to get the okay before using a TENS machine before labour starts – but if you get the nod to go ahead, the TENS machine may really provide you with a lot of relief with pelvic and lower back pain in late pregnancy. This is especially great when you’re pregnant and trying to avoid pain medications.
So, there you have it! Here at Sweet Beats we do hear back from mothers who’ve used TENS in labour every day, and we really believe that a TENS machine is a simple tool to really help give yourself a better shot at a smoother labour. It won’t take away all your pain, but it will keep you feeling more comfortable for longer and make the process easier.
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Find out how to order a TENS for labour
Sweet Beats provides a hire out service for mums wanting to use TENS as pain relief in labour. Book a 5 week hire right here online on the next page.