Is a TENS worth it?(91 Posts)
I'm considering hiring a TENS machine for my labour and wondered if people could share their experiences of it? This is my second (and last) child. In my labour with DD, all my pain was felt very low down near my pubic bone, no pain anywhere else, which is making me wonder, if I was to have the same experience again would it actually work for me, or is it better for people who feel labour in their back?
I had no pain relief at home last time and didn't particularly enjoy it and just wondered if this would help? Also with it being my second, does anyone know if they work on afterpains?
I'd say it was definitely worth a try. My antenatal group were split down the middle on whether they thought it was a miracle worker or the worst thing they'd ever experienced - everyone had a strong opinion!
Personally, I think it helped me a lot and I would use it again in a flash and recommend it. I didn't use it with afterpains, though.
I hired one for my first, and it was great - a long, slow build up labour, and that is when I think they probably worked best. I don't think it matters where the pain is, I think it would work on any pain once it is fully cranked up!
So for my 2nd I bought one (as didn't want the hassle of remembering to send it back and cost not much different) but I didn't use it - a very different labour - I used breathing instead for the first bit and I didn't need it or want the distraction, then when labour properly kicked off it was really REALLY quick.
And I didn't really have any trouble with afterpains to be honest, think I was aware of them but not particularly painful. The woman on my ward who had just had her 8th child was another matter though....
yes definitely - hired one on both of mine but you need a good one that you can control the strength of so you can build the strength up slowly.
Had one for both DS1 & DS2, like howlongwilltheynap (love the name) first labour long slow labour, was a great distraction. DS2 - only lasted 1.5 hours so it was nothing to full on labour very quickly.
Worth a go though, i got annoyed with mine near the end, with hindsight this was a sure sign baby was imminent!
Afterpains - were quite bad with DS2 but didn't occur to me use it, and was unlikey to have been bothered to do it (too lazy)
oooooh yeah had a boots one (do practice with it near the time though) forgot how to work it this time and didn't have time to play!
Agree totally with Lunar. My first was b2b and boy did it help!
Oh god i loved mine. I had a reaaaallly long labour and the tens helped massively. Second only to the birth pool. I cried to take it off to get in the water and begged to get it back on again when i got out. Its an odd sensation but i really did find it helped. Try it.
I loved it to begin with. It distracted me from the pain if nothing else. Like an earlier poster though, I got annoyed with it in the end and got cross with DP when he tried to tell me how much I liked it.
I had one with my first and found it useful as others here have already said it is a distraction if nothing else. My second was very very quick so no chance to use it.
Used it for my first; 2nd didn't have time. I think it did make a difference but I hadn't read enough about how it worked to make the most of it: I think the setting went up to about 12 and I was moving it up gradually so there was still somewhere to go as the pain got worse, but I made it to only about 7 as I didn't know there was still room left. It was quite an interesting feeling and it did give me something (else) to think about during labour.
It was so worth it for my very long, drawn out labour. It really helped me at home and in the hospital until the very last intense stages where I asked DH to rip it off! I bought mine in the hope that I have more than one DC and will just get new pads for it next time if I'm lucky enough to conceive. I don't remember it being that expensive in the grand scheme of things. Make sure you have new batteries and know how to work it before the big day
I think it depends on the labour, ds1 was a 'back labour' (think that's a term i've made up!) so it was great, ds2 was a tummy labour so it didn't touch it
but ds2 was difficult in every way for the first 4 months
Yes, yes, yes and absolutely yes to all 4 of my labours.
It was amazing. The only thing that made any difference to my pain. Paracetamol, water, gas were all rubbish for me.
All my pain was at the front but it stimulates the release of endorphins so should work wherever your pain is.
Thank you everyone, I think I'm convinced. I wasn't going to buy one as this if definately my last child but I'd seen a good website linked on mumsnet before who loan you it for 7 weeks (hence thinking I could try it for possible afterpains aswell!)
yep - try boots - I tried first time to rent from some online company and it went pear shaped so I went to a big boots and they got one out the cupboard - were very casual about the give back date as I rented for 2 week, 2 weeks before. Price seemed to be the same from memory.
I felt the contractions in my hips and thighs, and still loved my TENS. I've heard various people say that it is distracting in a good way or in an annoying way- and until you try it, you won't know which way you will feel. My TENS for DC2 arrived today,now I feel ready to go!
Ask your midwife if your hospital has one they lend out- mine did, so I got to use it for free. It definitely helped up until transition, when it became fairly pointless.
Tens worked really well for me. It was hubby's job to hit the boost button at the start of each contraction. Well, it kept him busy .... Until he decided to tuck into a ginsters special and forgot to turn it off again. Owwwwww.
I found it helped a lot for the early stages. I really noticed how much it was helping when I took it off to have a warm bath - the pain was much worse without it, despite what they say about the pain-relieving properties of warm water!
I bought mine, with new pads it's been lent round the neighbourhood. We keep a record of who's cranked it up the highest.
I loved it but post first birth realised I'd using it 'wrongly' - trustme, read the instructions slowly and properly before the contractions start. Still,I fully believed in it and refused to let the midwife remove it during the final stage owing to the 'placebo' effect pushing the button had.
I don't think I would have got through my induction without mine. It was the only form of pain relief I had for 28 hours
until they gave up and decided to go for the EMCS
I bought mine from eBay - worked out the same as renting, except you get much of your money back when you resell.
Yes. It didn't really work for me with DS (but then I was in a wild panic so not surprising). With DD, it was great. Absolutely got me through the vast majority of my labour.
I was obsessed with mine. V painful induced labour, went too fast for drugs so had gas&air and Tens. Like Rosebery, DH had to hit the boost button at the twitch of my finger while I dragged on the G&A. He got very good at it and I think it helped him to have an important job, as demonstrated when he missed one and I shrieked.
Yes definitely! Brilliant for a back to back labour. Didn't need any other pain relief. Though you must persevere with it, and keep increasing the intensity for it to work.
I got a MamaTens for about 30 quid from eBay.
Loved it for both labours. Borrowed an ancient one from the midwife for DD1 - worked fine. Bought a second hand Lloyds Pharmacy one from eBay (they are pretty basic) for DD2 - also absolutely fine. I don't think you need a fancy schmancy one. So given they are pretty cheap, I think you might as well try. And if you hate it you can remove it and it instantly stops. And no side effects or any effect on the baby. As far as I can see there are no disadvantages and plenty of potential advantages!
I don't remember feeling my labours in my back particularly (just an overwhelming sense of pain in general!) and I think the TENS was still worth it.
All the obstetric ones have a dial so you can turn it up as labour progresses, and a boost button.
I rented one from tesco. Alas I didn't get on with it, but I was induced so went from nothing to contractions every 5 mins in the space of 30 minutes. In fact, I'm not sure it worked at all - I wasn't smart enough to take it out of the box beforehand. The hospital had one (so I needn't have bothered!) which easier to use and was a nice distraction (for my husband at least) for 5 mins while the epidural took
Only thing I'd wished is that I could have posted the thing back - we live in the sticks and it was a real pain having to make a trip to the supermarket just to take the blessed thing back.
I've not managed to get pregnant yet and go through labour, but I have suffered with chronic back pain over the years and when it has been in the acute phase it has been a god send. Makes the area wonderfully numb if you really crank it up! I swear by them, and I much prefer to use a TENS than keep popping paracetamol/co-codamol.
Helped me with my first labour, which was the typical slow build up. I had it on the whole time I think. I hated the boost button though, for some reason it felt like it made the contractions worse.
No good for my second labour, but I went from 3cm to 10cm in about 10 minutes.
I am a midwife and a believer that tens are really helpful particularly in the latent phase of labour. I used it with my first child and when the first niggles came popped it on and managed to go back to sleep. I have found women take them off saying they aren't working only to find that the pains are even worse without! Not sure about after pains but never tried!
I don't see them so much though and wonder if they are getting less popular .
Hi! I agree with bumbez I used a TENS with my first child. Right from when I got niggles of pain, and it really helped. I kept it on for ages, and increased the strength slowly. It helped me in established labour too, with gas and air.
I only had pain in my groin and very near the pubic bone. At first the tens felt really odd, like soldiers marching up and down my back, and it stung a bit. But I soon got used to it, and I was able to sleep during the latent phase of labour.
I'd get one fro Boots. I didn't have time as ds was 9 days early, and I was resting on my laurels thinking he would be 2 weeks late GAH!! So I borrowed one from the ward at the maternity unit. It was ace, I highly recommend them.
I used lone in my first labour and found it great. I had a long slow build up and found it helpful with the more "mild" pains, and also remembering to press the buttons etc was a great distraction.
Once the pain got quite intense I took it off as the "buzzy" feeling was just annoying me by that stage.
Have ordered one for my second birth in a few weeks so hoping it will help again.
It helped with early labour pains - more of a distraction than anything else
Really good for after pains as didn't want to take painkillers as trying to bf.
I bought mine on Amazon for around £20.
Good luck , hope all goes well.
I really liked mine (hired it from Nature's Gate) however when I got to hospital they decide they wanted to do continuous foetal monitoring and they make you take it off for that
Personally I didn't get on with it at all. I remember thinking that the only thing more uncomfortable than contractions is being electrocuted whilst having contractions! Nearly threw it at the midwife in the end (it had been a long labour!)
in hindsight should have chucked it at exh
My mw told me you have to start using it early on in labour to make it work (but also that too early and it would be too early ). I bought on then had a failed induction and csection so never needed it
Haven't read the whole thread sorry just replying directly to the OP.
I used a TENS recently (3 weeks ago) when I was induced and on the drip. It worked for me for about 3 hrs. It was a good distraction but for me I ended up having to put it up so high to be able to have an effect during the contractions that I couldn't tell when they were easing off and the TENS ended up causing me pain. That's probably more to do with my contractions being medically induced so not such a slow build up. If you've managed without pain relief last time perhaps it could work really well for you. I'd get one again for next time because it did work for 3 hrs, that was 3hrs less of G&A and Epidural for me so a real bonus.
I didn't use it for after pains, I asked MW but wasn't allowed, not sure why tbh.
Yes it made a difference to me. I borrowed one so it cost me nothing (well, just a set of pads), but if I were doing it again, I would have no qualms about hiring or even buying one (they're not that expensive to buy, and you can flog on ebay).
I used it for about 5 hours at home, and then went in and ditched it as I got in the pool, but DD arrived just 2 hours later, so I used TENS for the 'bulk' of my labour so to speak.
I've had two long, slow, back to back labours and it was marvellous both times. It provided excellent counter-pressure to the horrid back pains, gave me something productive to do, showed my birth partners that I was having a contraction so they didn't bother me and helped with the pain. I put it on with the first few contractions every time.
When I was delivering DS I was in a trance like state and DH used me pressing the button as a cue to put the gas and air nozzle in my mouth. My mother (on the other side of me) was fascinated and asked him how the TENs worked. He happily demonstrated by pressing a button and ramping up the levels by accident. I felt like I was being electrocuted and he got a mouthful of abuse.
So don't let any bloody idiots near the thing!
Incidentally I was recommended to try it out a few weeks before the birth, just for a few minutes so I knew how to use it. The feeling of the endorphins running through my system was amazing which really helped me put my trust in the thing when I was actually in labour. DH found me lying on the bed with a big smile on my face, perfectly relaxed .
Ooh I've made discussion of the day!
Well since the majority of you are pro-TENS then it's obviously worth giving it a try! For my first labour I had about 7 hours at home which I didn't particularly enjoy, then on admission had G&A and finally an epidural. I will admit I didn't really need the epidural at the point I had it but I knew the anaesthetist who was on (and near the end of her shift!) so decided to rather wimpishly opt for one then from someone I trusted and before my labour got really painful. She did a fab job and I was pain free but able to feel my contractions and push DD out myself.
This time, my hospital has a shiney new MLU, with private rooms for the duration of your stay, water birth actively encouraged and facilities for DH to stay overnight if we wish, so I'm really keen to use it but obviously needed to look at alternative forms of pain relief as MLU means no epidural!
Thanks for all the helpful comments . I have a big Boots just down the road from me so may enquire about hiring from them (think it may be less hassle than random internet company and posting back!)
I found it really useful. Used it in both labours until I was able to get into the water. Much faster second time, but I still used it, including in the taxi on the way to hospital both times. Would definitely recommend getting one with a boost button though. Best thing about it was that I felt I could do something to counteract a contraction when it started, i.e. press the boost button. Also I felt the contractions were somehow contained because there was a definite end to each one when I turned the boost off. Stopped it feeling like the pain was continuous.
I liked mine, used it for the start of labour while at home, and in the car on the way in (DH driving of course), and then for most of my back to back labour. I also used natal hypnotherapy and the combination of both meant I was trance like untill fully dilated. Then I had to take it off as they wanted me to go in the bath for the back pain, and they took it away, along with my gas and air, just a ruse to get me off it I think and to come back to the real world and push the baby out.
In the end he wouldn't come out on his own anyway!
The wires kept coming out of the pads on my hired one, and you have to switch it off before you shoved them back in. I learnt this after DH just went ahead and jammed the wires back into the pads while the machine was running, giving me a massive jolt. He managed to do this twice.
I think it's good thing to have as it works for a lot of people's, and it's likely to work for you. You don't have to use it if you don't like it, but it's good to have a go.
teladi - I had continuous fetal monitoring and I used tens all the way through until I started to push. Wonder why it was different for you??
It was useful in early labour, useless later on though when the pains really kicked in but I think its only really meant for the first stages anyway.
Mine kept coming unstuck on my back though and I kept trying to stick it back on and electrocuting myself! Served as a useful distraction anyway...
Ooh yes, they're fab. I hired mine from boots and it really worked. I only used that and gas and air for ds2. Definitely recommend it.
MyMelody - my husband electrocuted me doing the same thing. That was the worst bit of my second labour! It also drained the batteries and we hadn't got the spares. Luckily the midwife said I was in established labour and could have G&A instead.
OP - Despite this I would recommend tens. It's great especially before you actually in established labour and definitely acts as useful distraction from the pain.
Yes, used it for all three of mine - the knack is not to tun it up too quickly so you've got some ooomph in resreve for when you really need it. Didn't use any other pain relief so it must have been doing something.
I'm a bit lentil weavery by nature and personally preferred my water pool, and a bit of massage. Like some nice smells and music too !
When it gets tough I'm not averse to a bit of gas and air !
Had both my two using a combo of the above.
Had a TENS for earlyish stages of labour in hospital with dd (DC1) but then got in pool and no use there anyway.
I wasn't deeply impressed by it's benefits but it may have helped a bit, and labour certainly did go well, especially for my first, so who knows, maybe worth a try ! But I didn't bother getting one for DS (DC2) Second labour with DS was faster and shorter ... same cute baby at the end of it though
Good luck !
I used mine with my third. I had had epidurals with my first two. The third time, I gave birth with TENS alone, not even a paracetamol. However, my third was smaller than the other two and not back-to-back like the other two, so I can't attribute the change just to TENS. But, when I arrived at hospital (20 minutes before I actually gave birth), the mid-wife was not convinced I was even in active labour!
I was fed up of pressing the boost button towards the end and I realised I was turning it off during contractions and on when they stopped. So maybe it didn't work at all but I liked having something to play with and some semblance of control. I'd give it a try and if you need to move on to something else or it starts irritating you, do so.
Yes it is definitely worth it.
The point is not that it gives sensations in the back - therefore only any good for people who feel pain in the back -
but in fact, it it stimulating the nerves with electric impulse, therefore loading the nerve pathways with a non-pain message which effectively blocks any pain messages going up the nerve - therefore it works on pain located from where it is placed on the back and downwards i.e including the pelvis!
At the time I remember thinking that I wanted to shove it up someone's arse when they asked if it was working! It had absolutely no effect whatsoever on my contractions which were mostly in my back.
I know that it has worked for some though! Best to have it to hand in case it could be your saviour!
All the best!
For me, I couldn't have got through labour without mine.
It was probably psychological, but being able to press the "boost" button at the height of a contraction helped me stay at home for the majority of the time (got to the hospital 2 hours before ds was born).
Once I got there however and the contractions started getting very strong, it was really starting to piss me off so I instructed DH to "get it off me now" and switched to gas and air.
I do think that if I hadn't had the feeling of control from the TENS in the early stages that I would have been banging down the hospital door asking for an epidural.....
Yes. They're fab. I was 6cm dilated before i needed G&A and the pain was 'manageable' until then with just a TENS.
Another yes yes & definitely yes here. I was induced with all 3 dc & used it on low in the early stages before I was transferred to the delivery suite.
I hired one from Boots - it had a boost button that was great for when the contractions really got going. It was dh's job to press it to boost when he could see/hear the contraction coming. Kept him busy!
I was the same matana - only TENS until approx 6cm, then gas and air. I did go from 5-10cm in about 15 minutes though....
I hired mine from Mama Tens - they were really good - you could keep it for about 6 weeks I think, and even when I sent it back late after being overdue, they were really nice about it.
I've hired one from boots not gone into labour yet but have used it for back ache and painfull BH so far i honestly can say even if i didn't use it in labour it's worth it's money already.
I seem to be the exception then. The buzzing sensation really irritated me after a while and I had to take it off.
I had one with both my DCs, I think they're really good. Totally worth hiring one as they're really cheap to hire so if you don't use it it's not that big a deal. I had to wait for 3 hours in the Triage waiting room before going to the labour suite so that was the only pain management I had until I pleaded for some paracetamol after 2 1/2 hours.
Does paracetamol actually do anything when you're in labour? It doesn't even work on a headache for me.....
Yes! I got to transition with mine, until I ripped it off as I suddenly found it intensely annoying and directed a tirade of fury at the stupid machine. :-) In hindsight the tens was amazing, the annoyance was transition, and I was pushing 10 minutes later.
Oh, and regarding after pains, yes they were noticeably worse after second (DC2) but not unbearable (nothing compared to labour in my experience)
Think they were like bad period pain that I've been very fortunate to only experience on a few occasions (but some people get all the time ?) Anyway, like with a contraction they are fairly soon over.
it's like being electrocuted, so a reasonable distraction, but that was about it for me.
I didn't like it. The buzzing set my teeth on edge and when I got a bit sweaty that bastarding pads didn't stay put properly and the electrode-y bits (dead technical me) kept sliding down and giving me electric shocks in my arse.
I've bought one for my labour (also intend to do hypnobirthing). A couple of you have mentioned that you should make sure you try it out beforehand. However, I am sure I have read somewhere that it can trigger contractions - is this right??? How did you try it out (weeks gone, for how long, where exactly)??
Hypnobirthing actually sounds quite good to me. I definitely feel I went into a different place in my head during my two labours, and had two very good, natural births with no complications or tearing ( I know, lucky sod ! )
DC1 in water pool ( used TENS in early labour, lots of massage too from DH also in pool ! ) No other pain relief.
DC2 no water pool available, didn't bother with TENS, on bed but uprightish and leaning on DH, some gas and air in final stages.
Good luck to all x
LOVED MY TENS MACHINE WITH MY FIRST LABOUR USED IT FOR SIX HOURS(WAS IN LABOUR FOR 9 AND HALF HOURS) HIRED IT FROM NATURES GATE WHO I PLAN TO USE AGAIN THIS TIME, STAYED WELL AWAY FROM THE BOOST BUTTON AFTER FIRST TRY THOUGH LOL I NEARLY HIT THE CEILING
Oh and I did stay at home in bath with DC2 in early labour, partly as hospital had no pool for us. Only just got to hospital before stage 2 !
I really liked it, and was frightened to take it off even in later stages in case it was having more of an effect than I realised! It didn't lessen then pain, only give you something else to focus on, and I never managed to crank it up that high - I thought I was going to fry myself if I did! Will be ordering another one for DC#2!
Husband "trialled" one at our NCT class. The preggers side of the room weren't allowed near it in case our waters broke presumably. Clearly the pads were a bit elderly as my husband likened it to tickling his arm, but then ran off and bought one when I was in labour just in case. He then put it all together, stuck the pads on my back, ramped it up to max (on grounds of perceived effectuality) and pressed the on button. I think it is fair to say that I shot half way across the kitchen in shock, and he nearly lost his testicles. Didn't make it past the first level for the rest of the evening and then got in the bath making it redundant. A couple of friends have done a drug free delivery using one and sworn by it. All I'll say, is start on the lowest setting :-)
fretfree the booklet that came with my TENs machine (Boots I think possibly), recomended trying it out from week 37. I think it said for less than an hour just to get used to the sensation and the controls so you would be more prepared in labour.
I used it week 38 for about 15 minutes I think. I didn't go into labour until 41 weeks. I set it up as I would do in labour and just relaxed on the bed. I didn't want to be learning to use it whilst in pain and distracted and I wanted to prepare myself for the sensation.
this says its safe
I wouldn't use it in the first or second trimester personally.
Its worth getting a roll of hypoallergenic tape from Boots (for bandages etc) as after wearing the TENs for a long time the pads started to come off and I had to send DH for the tape to stick them back on again. Removing the tape was the most painful part of the whole labour (hypnobirth).
I also hired one and it worked a treat! I felt in control, it helped a lot with the pain and it was a good distraction. I managed to get to 8cm just using the TENS machine and then took it off to use the pool (which for me was far more uncomfortable in comparison in the end...).
My advice would be, if you do get one make sure your other half knows how to use it! During the birth of DD1, DH took charge of the TENS and immediately turned it to max. A few choice words were thrown his way!!
My sister used one and said she wasn't sure it was working for her - until one of the electrodes came off and she had a contraction: "DH - put that fucking TENS back on me NOW!" was her reaction.
Re. paracetamol... hmmmm, i can see why they say take it but tbh the latent phase is the only time it MIGHT be effective and at that stage it's really not painful enough to warrant downing tablets - it's more mild discomfort that comes and goes without much of a problem. A warm bath or hot water bottle and a does just as well.
I used a TENS for both labours and it was brilliant. I'd certainly recommend them to everyone.
YES, YES, YES! I had one and got to 9cm at home (1st baby). Managed on TENS alone until had to have a spinal (14hrs) due to baby being stuck. Definately worth it and really does help to block the pain. Also learn good breathing and you will be fine!
Yes-I would say so, I used mine for induction. I got to water's breaking and 5cms dilated before using other form of pain relief.
Yes, used them for all 3 to varying degrees. Also fantastic for back pain when no pregnant. But do get one with controls that can't be easily knocked as I accidentally turned it up to the max at one point and thought I was going to die!
Used one my second labour. I would recommend it but tbh more as a distraction than actual relief from any pain. My labour was super quick though, so it might work better on a longer labour with slower first stage. I appreciated having control over something, even if it was only the pathetic push of a button! It also served as a useful sign to dh that a contraction had started . All the best!
I hired one for the birth of my first child. I didn't get on with it at all, it just made me more irritated, just felt like another pain to deal with. I didn't bother getting one second time round. They are quite cheap to hire out or buy from ebay. I guess it is worth trying as I know friends who thought theirs were a great help.
just to mention - if you do use it have a look at instructions before you go into labour. DH was looking at instructions and fitting it to my back for me while I was in labour - was hilarious - gave us something to laugh at which was interesting when contraction came... HahahahaaaheeeheheheeUUNNNNGHHHhhh......
I managed to get to 9cm at home (without the midwife noticing I actually was in labour) and it was utterly crap. It didn't make any difference to the pain and it tingled in a way that I found really unpleasant.
It's great that it worked for so many people, though, and on that basis, I would hire one, practice with it and see if it works for you, I simply don't think you can know til the time comes.
Yes, definitely worth having one on hand. I also rented one from Boots. I know some women don't find them at all helpful but it is all I used for DC2. I would say it just about took the edge off and pyschologically I think it had a bit of a placebo affect. Although I didn't get to use it a full pelt as I was pacing myself. I had no idea how long I had to go as the lovely but ineffectual MW wouldn't check my cervix. By the time DH finally tracked down a mw who would it was time to jump in the birthing pool and push baby out. Now a water birth that is something I would highly recommend. Good luck with the birth.
rosebery - not sure if you will come back to this thread or not now, but I got told the TENS would interfere with the foetal monitoring equipment. I feel a bit hard done by now.
Teladi I had CFM too and used a TENS. Your hospital are naughty naughty. It does not interfere at all except that the wires get muddled up sometimes. I feel and for you!
Hi teladi. Seeing as lookout could also use tens, it does seem that someone didn't know what they were talking about in your case!
None if the mw's batted an eyelid when I said I wanted to use it - they even put it on for me, and then put the cfm in place.
Feel very annoyed for you.
Just googled the use of tens and cfm at same time. To be fair, it does seem that the jury is out on whether tens affects cfm. If it does, then the effect is probably negligible. Perhaps this explains why different hospitals have different policies on it??
Hired my from Babytens i would definately recommend them. I used mine right up to the pushing stage and would not have got though with out it.
I hired mine from boots and felt that it was really helpful, particularly at home! I would go for it!!!
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