Safe and simple to use. Recommended by midwives. No side-effects for Mum and baby.
TENS is a safe and effective option that is controlled entirely by Mum; it is drug-free with no unwelcome side-effects for Mum or baby and can be used at hospital, home or birthing centre.
To hire a tens unit see your childbirth educator at the Tauranga Parents Centre or fill in this online form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it hurt?
No. TENS is non-invasive. Electrodes are placed on the surface of your skin, in the lumbar region of your back and either side of your spine. You set the stimulation rate at a level which is comfortable for you; lower level stimulation encourages endorphin release in your body and higher level stimulation over-rides pain messages from the uterus. Various users have described the sensation as a ‘buzzing’ sensation or similar to using an electronic massage device.
Q. Is there a risk it will begin labour?
No. TENS alone and when used as indicated will not begin labour.
Q. How does it work?
TENS provides very gentle electrical stimulation from the electrode pads placed on your back (as in the image above) to your nerve endings. It has been described as a very pleasant ‘tingling’ sensation and can be compared with an electronic massage device. The stimulation encourages your body to release endorphins (feel-good hormones) between contractions; and provides pain-relief during contractions, by sending stimulus through your faster nerve pathways, that override the pain signal from your uterus to your brain. This is commonly referred to as the ‘pain-gate’ theory.
Q. How long do I have the TENS unit for?
Our standard booking term is 5 weeks. We recommend receiving the unit 3 weeks prior to your due date and hire term continues until 3 weeks after birth. However, you can choose your dates when you book the unit. Longer term hires can also be arranged at an extra cost of $10 per week.
Q. Can any woman use TENS?
TENS is a safe drug-free option for most women. Extra caution would be required for women who experience epilepsy, early miscarriage, or who have heart disease or an implant such as a pacemaker or defibrillator. In these circumstances, TENS should be considered in consultation with your Lead Maternity Carer.
Q. Can TENS be used with other methods of pain relief?
Yes. The only circumstances you wouldn’t include TENS with other forms of pain relief is with use of water (birth pool, shower, and bath) and an epidural block (there is simply no need for TENS when an epidural is applied, as all feeling from the waist and below is lost).
Q. Can I use a TENS unit from my local physio clinic?
It would be possible to hire a unit from a local physio; however, these units are general use units and not designed specifically for childbirth. Our units are modern obstetric units, with a BOOST button, purposefully developed to provide pain relief during labour contractions.
Q. Who controls the TENS unit?
You do. The small unit is held in your hand and you select the comfort level of stimulation. If required, TENS can be stopped at the touch of a button. Some women don’t want to ‘deal’ with the TENS unit during strong contractions – in this instance, simply ask your support person to control the stimulation as you require.
Q. Is TENS difficult to use?
Not at all. The unit comes with easy-to-follow instructions and settings for early/active/transitional stages of labour. It’s also a good idea to become familiar with your TENS unit before the big day.
Q. When will I receive the TENS unit?
You can pick up your tens unit during your Tauranga Parents Centre childbirth education course or you can arrange pick up at the centre.
Q. Can I use TENS for other reasons during pregnancy?
Yes. TENS greatly assists in the management of Lower Back Pain (LBP). TENS can be used from 37 weeks gestation to help manage this discomfort and is a preferred option than pain medication, which can cross the placenta. TENS may also be used to increase placental blood flow. This should be discussed with your Lead Maternity Carer.
Q. When would I NOT use TENS?
If you experience epilepsy, heart conditions, or an implant such as a pacemaker or defibrillator, have an irritable uterus or history of miscarriage TENS should be used in consultation with your Lead Maternity Carer. TENS should also NOT be used over broken skin surface or in water.