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Is a TENS worth it?

(91 Posts)
PoultryInMotion Mon 23-Jan-12 19:51:46

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 grin and just wondered if this would help? Also with it being my second, does anyone know if they work on afterpains?

MoJangled Thu 26-Jan-12 10:15:50

I was obsessed with mine. V painful induced labour, went too fast for drugs angry 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.

BumgrapesofWrath Thu 26-Jan-12 10:17:56

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.

Wigeon Thu 26-Jan-12 10:32:27

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.

didireallysaythat Thu 26-Jan-12 10:40:59

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 smile

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.

desperateoldie67 Thu 26-Jan-12 11:01:55

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.

IPushedHumptyDumpty Thu 26-Jan-12 11:17:49

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.

bumbez Thu 26-Jan-12 12:15:11

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 .

maandpa Thu 26-Jan-12 12:45:42

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.

twittergirl Thu 26-Jan-12 12:46:47

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.

happydotcom Thu 26-Jan-12 12:53:16

It helped with early labour pains - more of a distraction than anything else grin

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.

Teladi Thu 26-Jan-12 12:58:51

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 sad

normaleggy Thu 26-Jan-12 13:01:34

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

reastie Thu 26-Jan-12 13:03:17

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 confused ). I bought on then had a failed induction and csection so never needed it hmm

ayearoverdue Thu 26-Jan-12 13:05:39

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.

Deliaskis Thu 26-Jan-12 13:12:36

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.


R2PeePoo Thu 26-Jan-12 13:14:19

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 grin.

liquoriceandtomatoes Thu 26-Jan-12 13:56:04

No, useless

PoultryInMotion Thu 26-Jan-12 14:12:38

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 thanks. 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!)

RememberYoureAWomble Thu 26-Jan-12 14:15:07

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.

kitcatcandy Thu 26-Jan-12 14:24:41

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.

rosebery Thu 26-Jan-12 14:40:12

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??

MyMelody Thu 26-Jan-12 14:46:32

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...

philmassive Thu 26-Jan-12 15:17:54

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.

Ghoulwithadragontattoo Thu 26-Jan-12 15:19:15

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.

KarenG Thu 26-Jan-12 15:46:07

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.

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