TENS for Labour

What is TENS

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, (TENS) is a non-Invasive, drug-free method of pain control. It has been used for the relief of acute and chronic pain conditions for many years. In particular, women have been using TENS as a means of managing labour pain.

The TENS unit consists of a battery-powered stimulator and one or two pairs of electrodes with connecting leads. It produces a mild electric current which you will feel as a tingling sensation on your skin. The intensity, rate and duration of the electrical impulses can be adjusted by the person using the TENS unit.

How does TENS work?

Your body experiences pain when a particular stimulation triggers the sending of specific messages along nerve pathways to the interpreted as a feeling of pain

Tens Machine

Tens Machine

The TENS unit produces tiny electrical impulses which are sent through the skin to the underlying nerves. This stimulation of nerves blocks those pain messages from reaching the brain.

Precaution when using TENS 

  • TENS is an Electricity-base apparatus and therefore care must be taken when using. Specific Precautions Include:
  • TENS should not be used in the bath or shower.
  • Women who have metallic implants or an implant electronic device, eg cardiac pacemaker should not use TENS
  • TENS should not be used while operating a vehicle.
  • TENS must be turned off before applying or removing the electrodes.
  • TENS should not be used prior to the 37th week of your pregnancy unless advised by your doctor or physiotherapist.
    • This is particularly relevant when the electrodes are placed in the positions as shown
    • You may wish to practice using the unit with the electrodes on your forearm, as demonstrated by your physiotherapist.
  • TENS should be kept out of reach of children.

HOW to use TENS machine

  1. As soon as labour begins, attached leads to the unit (Do not turn ON until pads are attached to your back.)
    Attach CH1 just below the bra line
    Attach CH2 just above the buttocks
  2. Stimulation in the higher set of pads (CH1) is stronger than the lower set of pads (CH2).  This is intentional.
  3. Ensure batteries are inserted and press the ON button for 3 – 5 secs (LCD screen will be activated).
  4. Press the P button to choose a program.  Use the arrows to increase/decrease the intensity.

Provides a pulsing sensation that triggers the release of endorphins, relaxing you and relieving you from pain.
A1     For use between contractions
A2     For use during contractions
Use the BUTTON button to switch between the two modes at any time.

You should stay in program A as long as possible, but when your contractions intensity and become more frequent you can progress to program B


Provides a stimulation pattern that is set to block the heightened pain.
B1    For use when contractions intensify and become more frequent
B2    For use when you experience a strong contraction, it provides a constant tingling sensation and is triggered by pressing the BOOST button.

If you find programs A and B do not meet your needs for pain relief there is a third program C, which provides a higher level of pain relief. 


Provides a higher level of pain relief
C         Is continuous
C-AP (Active Power Ramp): Pressing and holding the BOOST button will ramp the power or level of intensity during the final contractions to give intense pain relief.  Release the BOOST button when required.

Once finished with the device, press the OFF button for 3 – 5 secs (LCD screen will be deactivated).

Remove batteries and put them back into the case.  Dispose of electrode pads and leads if they will not be used again within 2 years.


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