How does it work?

How does a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit work during labor?

When we feel pain, nerve signals travel to the brain. In early labor, TENS electrode pads are placed on your back along the nerve pathways carrying pain signals from the uterus and cervix. These pads produce small electrical impulses that travel just beneath the skin to the nerves. By stimulating the nerves this way, the TENS unit blocks the pain messages from reaching the brain. Instead of feeling pain, the brain perceives the tingling sensation caused by the TENS unit.

As contractions intensify, the frequency and strength of these electrical signals can be adjusted accordingly. Additionally, the TENS unit prompts the body to release endorphins, natural hormones produced during labor to help alleviate pain. It typically takes about an hour for the body to respond to TENS therapy, so it is recommended to start using a TENS unit early in labor at a low intensity. The intensity can be increased as labor progresses or as you become accustomed to the TENS sensation.

A TENS unit offers a non-invasive and portable method of pain relief. It works externally and does not affect the mother or baby’s physiological balance. It allows mobility and gives the laboring mother a sense of control over her labor. A TENS unit is perfect for use at home during the early stages of labor. It is safe to use a tens unit after 37 weeks of pregnancy, providing an opportunity to become familiar with it before going into labor.

Jillian’s expertise in prenatal classes and her role as a postpartum doula have given her a deep understanding of the challenges and concerns expectant mothers face. She recognizes the desire for a more natural birth experience and the need for effective pain management techniques that align with this goal.

Through her classes and one-on-one support, Jillian educates mothers-to-be about the benefits of TENS units, which use gentle electrical stimulation to alleviate labor pains. She guides them in the proper use of these devices, empowering them to take control of their birth experience and embrace the beauty of natural childbirth.

With a compassionate and knowledgeable approach, Jillian helps mothers navigate the challenges of labor, offering the support and guidance they need to confidently utilize TENS units as a drug-free pain relief option. Her commitment to promoting natural birthing methods and her belief in the power of TENS units have made her a trusted resource for expectant families in the Austin area and beyond.

Precautions to mention:

Do not use a TENS machine with a cardiac pacemaker or with a seizure disorder. TENS unit CANNOT be used in water!
You would need to remove the pads before getting in the bath/shower and then re-apply after.
It is very important to mention that for maximum benefit, TENS needs to be started in early labor before contractions become overwhelmingly strong