Medicine has come a long way since Queen Victoria used chloroform for the birth of Prince Leopold! Now, there are various methods available to women, and when charting out your birth plan, it is imperative that you are aware of your options.
TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a gentle electrical current passed through four flat pads on your back. The TENS works by stimulating the body to increase production of its own natural painkillers called endorphins. They also interrupt the pain signal pathway sent through your spinal cord to your brain, reducing the pain sensation. The TENS is most effective if used from early labour as it takes 30-40 mins to build up the endorphin levels and the electrical stimulation can be increased as the contractions become stronger. It is not very effective during the active phase of labour, when contractions get longer, stronger and more frequent. It’s probably most effective during the early stages, when many women experience lower back pain.
Electrodes are taped on to your back and connected by wires to a small battery-powered stimulator. Holding this, you give yourself small, safe amounts of current through the electrodes.
You can keep moving and it won’t directly interfere with your labour.
You can use it for as long as you want.
There are no lasting side-effects for you or your baby.
It doesn’t need an anaesthetist, doctor or midwife.
It can be used at a home birth and in hospital.
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