Tens Machine- do they work?

(102 Posts)
GuybrushThreepwoodMP Mon 31-Mar-14 19:37:12

My first labour was LONG and very hard. Baby wasn't back to back but all the pain was in my back and never felt contractions in my tummy (retroverted uterus). So while labour number two might be different, it's likely the pain would be in my back again and I would expect it to be show (labour number one consisted of regular contractions for 72 hours, no sleep for that long and agonising unbearable pain).
Should I try a TENS next time?

Dontfencemein Thu 03-Apr-14 13:16:52

My first labour was pretty fast - went to 7cm in about 4 hours.

Unfortunately things went a bit wrong a few hours into the second stage and I had to have an emergency C-section. I used TENS from the start of labour until I was in theatre and found it great, so much so that I kept it on rather than getting in the birthing pool. I found it so comforting that I did not want to take it off.

DH who was birthing partner took control of the machine (giving boosts when I had contractions) and I think this really helped to give him something to focus on. Much better that he had a task rather than just being expected to be "suportive".

I would use it again without hesitation, although if I am lucky enough to have another baby, might use pool for a while and put TENS on again afterwards.

I think it helps to start using it really early, to get the endorphins going before pain is established.

minipie Thu 03-Apr-14 13:29:21

Gosh all these positive replies!

Just for some balance - I found it did nothing for me, in fact I found it incredibly annoying and wanted it off.

But then I found that what helped me was focusing intently on each contraction. If you're the opposite and find distraction helpful then I can see a TENS would help.

BritabroadinAsia Thu 03-Apr-14 13:36:34

Another massive yes from me - it was my only pain relief and it worked both times... but agree with others, get it on early and start low so you have somewhere to go with it as the contractions get more intense.
Good luck!

LowCloudsForming Thu 03-Apr-14 13:46:44

Yes - great distraction.

Zara8 Thu 03-Apr-14 13:51:35

I used mine during my induction. Really helped zap the worst part of nasty prostin pains (1 min long, 1 minute apart for 8 hours). However when my waters went though and I went into sudden, full-on labour (and then went from 1-10cm in an hour!!) - I couldn't even feel the buzz of the electrodes, I was in so much pain, it did nothing for me at that point!! I think if you have a labour that builds up in intensity over time it would be very helpful for a long way though.

Currently pg with DC2 and I still plan on getting one for labour this time.

I would agree with what others say - put it on during first twinges.

But don't expect that it will get you through the whole labour!

Zara8 Thu 03-Apr-14 13:51:56

I hired mine through Boots btw

Spiritedwolf Thu 03-Apr-14 14:10:14

I couldn't stand it really, it just meant there was no relief between contractions for me when it was on and used in the recommended manner. I had a 1 hour plus car journey to hospital during which I wasn't able to move around (my previous way of coping) so ended up switching it on at a low level (literally one of the four lowest levels) during contractions and off in between just so I had something to do as I felt pretty stuck and helpless.

Not being able to cope with more than a low level of TENS (and not at all between contractions) made me fear I wasn't 'managing' pain well at all and I feared I was in early labour.

I gave birth without any form of pain relief within an hour of arriving at hospital and think I had my first 'pushing' contraction whilst still in the car. (I may have been in transition for part of the journey, or the long walk to the ward, it hard to say as my contractions were never regular) So it wasn't that I had a low pain threshold, it was just that TENS was a sensation I couldn't stand! So if you don't get on with it, don't assume you'll need tons of other pain relief, I think its just one of those things that works for some and not others.

I thought it was worth buying it and trying it because I knew I would have the long car journey when there would be few alternatives, and I was going to a CLU rather than my preferred option of a waterbirth at the local MLU. So I wouldn't have water available and I wanted to avoid medicated pain relief if possible, so wanted to have an option in my control!

I don't regret getting it, but I didn't really find it worked for me in terms of pain relief. Just gave me something to do in the car. It might be because my contractions weren't typical or because I have some sensory issues, or maybe DH didn't put them in the right place - who knows?

Good luck!

BigBirdFlies Thu 03-Apr-14 14:33:57

I don't know about TENS machines, but I had a backache labour with dd1. I was told she wasn't back to back, but I had no pain whatsoever in my abdomen. When dd2 came along, the labour was typical front pain. So I think each labour is different.

NotCitrus Thu 03-Apr-14 14:47:32

Helped a lot with backache in late pregnancy, and was good during the drive to hospital (let's close one road toreplace water mains and then a roadblock on the main road, why not?) and for some hours after that. I preferred gas and air and then both once I was kicked out of the pool.
Well worth the tenner I paid for it on eBay! Do make sure you have fresh sticky pads if you get a second hand one, and check batteries fit - rechargeables were about 1mm too big!

SlumdogMummy Thu 03-Apr-14 14:50:20

Loved mine and used it with both of my DC. To reiterate what others have said, placement is everything and if they start to become unstuck you'll notice!

I also agree that they were as much of a distraction as a pain relief.

BellaOfTheBalls Thu 03-Apr-14 14:52:00

I had an undiagnosed vaginal breech birth with no pain relief aside from a Tens machine and a couple of paracetamol taken two hours prior.

Yes, they work.

Poosnu Thu 03-Apr-14 14:54:46

Yes absolutely. Do a trial run before labour begins so you can figure out how it works. And put it on quite early in labour. I'd say worth buying a mama tens (especially if you are planning a couple of children).

Nosleeptillbedtime Thu 03-Apr-14 15:00:11

They are great. I was extremely skeptical but it was much better than gas and air. And I had a vet intense labour with very strong contractions coming less than a minute apart from the off. Definitely recommended.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 03-Apr-14 15:06:41

I found it helpful. DH kept 'helpfully' increasing the strength.

When we were back home, he was curious what it felt like and tried it on himself.... and found it agonising. I think he gained some extra respect for me and womankind to realise that this was better than labour pains! grin

mrsbug Thu 03-Apr-14 15:11:51

I thought it was great and like the poster above i let dp be in charge of the controls, pressing boost whenever i had a contraction. If your dp likes fiddling with electronic equipment then at the very least it will give him something constructive to do!

BrassMonkey85 Thu 03-Apr-14 15:28:05

Really helped for me as I had a very long labour. MW put them on when we went to the hospital before she sent me home (the first time lol)

I found it really helped -- like a pp, I didn't think it was doing much until I (accidentally, in my case) turned it off, when I quickly realised how much it had been helping. IMO you do need to start it right at the beginning when your contractions are at an "oooh" rather than an "OUCH!" level.

I did two VBACs on TENS alone up to transition, then gas and air as well for transition.

JaneinReading Thu 03-Apr-14 16:07:26

I used it with the last one. It was nothing like as effective as gas and air (I had that too with all the births). My midwives were keen on it. I think it helped a bit.

Sparkeleigh Thu 03-Apr-14 16:21:02

Yes, I found it far better than G&A and managed to get to 8cm before having to go to hospital. It was great!

Back2Two Thu 03-Apr-14 16:39:13

I used one for my second labour and I swear it was brilliant for me. I had a bit of G&A but to be honest I'm not sure it does much for me.

I was walking around the room, TENS machine on and this kept me going until right near the pushing stage. So, four hours with TENS and then a few minutes without.

Back2Two Thu 03-Apr-14 16:40:23

Well, prob until transition stage I used the TENS. so much better than my first labour which was just G&A.

Back2Two Thu 03-Apr-14 16:42:49

BTW... I have very intense labours with not a twinge beforehand and then full on contractions for approx four hours. The TENS got me through.

Birdies Thu 03-Apr-14 17:21:10

Sounds like my first labour except I had a Mamatens. Could not have done without it, would highly recommend it.

TremoloGreen Thu 03-Apr-14 17:24:08

Mine was brilliant. I did get it on as soon as I realised I was in labour, which I think is meant to help. It got me through the first 8 hours of first stage, then I didn't really feel it was helping any more so I splashed about in a hot bath for another hour or two until I was in transition. I would definitely get one again if I have another baby. Also, I would go to the birth centre before I get to transition wink

TremoloGreen Thu 03-Apr-14 17:25:46

Oh and I used the TENS in combination with ideas from this book

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