TENS is a drug free way to reduce pain in childbirth. Transcutanteous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is commonly used during labor by women in Great Britain and Sweden. In the US, TENS units have been used for years by physical therapists and chiropractors in their rehabilitation of injured patients.
I am the only local birth doula certified by DONA in TENS for labor.
A TENS unit can make a woman more comfortable in labor by using electrical stimulation to increase the release of the body’s natural pain-relieving substances, and by blocking the nerve pathways that cause labor pains. The pads are applied to the lower back and attached to a small battery-operated stimulator which the woman holds and controls. A tingling sensation is felt at regular intervals, and the woman can adjust the amount of stimulation to her own preference.
Obstetric TENS has been found to be an effective technique for over 80% of births. Many studies have been done in Europe with marked success, especially for back pain in labor. There are no known harmful effects to mother or baby. The only women who should not use TENS are those with a cardiac pacemaker, those with preterm labor, and those with a seizure disorder or undiagnosed sources of pain.