TENS machine

TENS machine

Throughout your pregnancy, you have probably given your birth plan and pain relief a lot of thought. For many people a TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is an effective method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current.

A TENS machine is a small, battery-operated device that has leads connected to sticky pads called electrodes. The electrodes are attached directly to your skin. When the machine is switched on, small electrical impulses are delivered to the electrodes resulting in a tingling sensation.

The electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles. They may also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers.

For most people, TENS is a safe treatment with no side effects. Some people may be allergic to the pads and their skin may become red and irritated, however special pads for people with allergies are available.

TENS isn't safe for everyone to use. You shouldn’t use it without first seeking medical advice if you have:

  • a pacemaker or another type of electrical or metal implant in your body
  • epilepsy or a heart problem.

TENS is safe to use from 37 weeks of pregnancy onwards.

If you are interested in using a TENS machine for pain relief during labour, these can be hired privately.  You may discuss this with your midwife, or contact the Call a Midwife advice line for support on 0300 123 5473.





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