Frequently asked questions





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Frequently asked questions

What is a TENS machine?

"TENS" stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulus - or electrical stimulations sent through the skin. Its a form of pain relief that has no side effects, is drug free, and wont cause drowsiness. Portable, hand-held TENS machines are very useful for mobile, non invasive pain relief. When applied to your kin using electrode pads, it has a sort of buzzing sensation, like fingers drummed on your body. Specially designed obstetric TENS units are programmed to help you relax during the rest time between contractions, and has a "boost" button that you press at the start and end of a contraction to increase the intensity when needed.

How does TENS work in labour?

The TENS machine will work in three ways:

1. Endorphin release - the TENS, whilst not painful, stimulates your body's natural painkillers - endorphins. These endorphins will help you relax and will help your body manage each contraction.
2. Blocks pain signals - our nerve pathways are like train tracks - they can only transmit one signal at a time. The stimulation of the TENS will compete with the pain signals from a contraction and prevent some of them from reaching the braing. This is most effective in the early stages of labour 3. Focus - the TENS stimulation gives you a source of focus as you work through a contraction, reducing your conscious awareness of the sensation of the contraction

What are the advantages of using TENS?

Using an obstetric TENS unit during labour provides a woma with many benefits. The most obvious of these are that there are no side effects for either mother or baby. In addition, TENS: - is totally under your control - gives you a positive source of focus during labour - allows you to be mobile and upright - can be combined with other forms of pain relief, such as gas and pethidine - can be used at home from the start of labour - you can use it as long as you want and take it off when you want or need to - it is safe for both you and your baby - it can be used for a home birth - It is portable and non-invasive - it is easy to use You may wish to combine TENS with other forms of pain management such as hypnobirthing, morphine, a fitball etc. Please be aware though that the TENS unit will need to be removed if you get into water, and the endorphin effets of the TENS stimulation can dissipate after removal.

When shouldn't the TENS be used?

The TENS should not be used under the following circumstances: - before you go into labour - in the first 36 weeks of pregnancy except under the advice of your care provider - when youre in the shower, bath or birth pool - on the abdomen at any time - by people with pacemakers or epilepsy - on the head, neck, over the heart, on the inside of the body or on broken / inflamed skin - If you have pain that you dont think is labour pain - see a health care professional in this case Electronic fetal monitoring may be affected by TENS use so check with your care provider if you are able to use the two together

Will TENS work for me?

Every womans body responds differently to the TENS stimulatio AND to labour, so there no definitive answer. It is difficult to accurately measure how effective a form of pain relief it is, however research has shown that women using TENS in labour are less likely to request additional forms of pain relief, and are less likely to report very high levels of pain. Probably the best indication of TENS effectiveness is that every woman who uses TENS during her labour says she will do so again.

When do I start using the TENS?

We recommend you start using an obstetric TENS at home at the onset of contractions. Early use of labour TENS promotes the bodies production of endorphins and encephalins - the bodies natural pain killers

How long should TENS be used for during labour?

The TENS machine can be worn as needed for as long as desired, but a minumim 30 minutes duration is recommended for childbirth

Can I practice with the TENS machine?

Yes, it is recommended you try out the TENS machine beforehand to to become familiar with the operation and the sensations. You may place the pads on your lower back as you would during labour, or you may place them on the inside of your forearm to test. If you are ealier than 37 weeks then limit the test to a sort period (less than 1 minute). The pads are self adhesive and re-usable. Re-apply the plastic film to the sticky side of the pads when finished and store safely.

Can the TENS be used for a water birth?

Yes, although NOT whilst in the water. TENS needs to be REMOVED PRIOR to entering the water

Can TENS be used with other forms of pain relief?

Yes, you may continue using the TENS machine with other methods of pain relief, such and pethidine and gas, however it is not to be used in water

Can I take the TENS unit into the hospital with me?

Yes. The midwives and doctors are usually very happy for women to use a TENS machine during labour. Check with your midwife or doctor if you are unsude. You may be requried to turn the TENS unit off temporarily whilst using electronic monitoring equipment

What are the disadvantages of using TENS?

- you probably wont be able to put the pads in place without help - you may find it only gives you relief in the early stages of labour - you'll probably need to hire or purchase a TENS as not all hospitals have them available - TENS cant be used in water, though you can still use it before you get in a bath or birth pool - if you want your birth partner to massage your back he'll have to work around the pads - You may need to remove the electrode pads if our baby's heart has to be monitored electronically, becuase it could interfere with the monitoring machine - you will be told to do so if this if the case

How do I used a TENS machine?

Your birth partner can place the pads on your back for you. Follow the instructions that come with the TENS machine, though they're likely to be as follow:

1. Check the machine if OFF before placing the pads on your back
2. Place two of the pads on either side of your spine with the tops of the pads at about bra strap level. 3. Place the other two lower down, at about the level of the dimples on your lower back, just above your bottom 4. Switch the machine on, starting with the controls at the lowest setting. Turn them up gradually and your contractions get stronger 5. Use the BOOST button at the peak of each contraction. The boost function results in more intense, wave-like tingling or buzzing sensations. Turn the boost off when the contraction has ended 6. Keep mobile. Moving around during labour helps you feel in control and will make the TENS more effective 7. If the pads start to lose their stickiness, rub a few drops of water into the gel side on the pads before putting them back on. The more firmly they're on the better they will work

I am due really soon, do you have machines available and how long will it take to get to me?

We always have machines available, and ship everyday Mon - Fri. If you place an order before 3pm we will endeavor to have it in the mail for you that evening, and for metro areas on the east coast of Australia the estimated delivery is usually one business day. However this is not guaranteed

It looks like I will go overdue, can I extend my hire?

If you would like to hire the TENS machine for longer please get in contact with us and we will make arrangments to do so. There are a few options - you can upgrade your hire to 6 or 8 weeks or we can take the cost of the extra weeks out of your deposit

I have lost my return post parcel, what do I do?

Unfortunately the return post parcel provided with the Labour TENS Hire once lost is non-refundable, so you will need to purchase a new one at Australia Post (or you are welcome to wrap it yourself) and pay for postage. Please contact us at for the return address.

If I don't use my TENS can I have a refund?

We understand that babies and birth are always unpredictable! If your TENS hasn't been sent out yet, you can let us know to cancel your order and receive a full refund. However, since the Labour TENS Hire is a service, if you choose not to use the machine or are unable to use it, we have provided the service and therefore cannot provide refunds.

Will my electrode pads stay sticky?

The electrode pads provided are designed to be re-usable, meaning you can take them off and then reapply them. Just be sure to pop them back onto the film they arrived attached to when you are not wearing them. Residual oil or moisture on your skin will start to erode the stickiness of your pads, so if you are in and out of the shower several times, or sweating, make sure to dry your back completely before reapplying. You can 'revive' the stickiness of your pads by brushing over with a damp fabric cloth. Additional electrode pads are also available for purchase.

Are there options to hire for shorter periods if I am late in gestation?

For those women hiring a few days before the babies due date then they can opt for a 2 week hire. This option is only available upon request