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I used this tens machine during my labour with my daughter and found that it really helped to manage my contractions. although my advice would be to make sure that you read the instructions before hand a few times and have a play around as its quite complicated to use the controls if you dont know what your doing! I liked the fact that it has a boost function which you use during a contraction this really helped with the pain. it also has 3 levels 1st one is for early labour, 2nd one for advanced labour and 3rd one for the final stage. i had a water birth so i only used my tens machine for the first part of my labour but it really did help. the pads were really easy to remove from my back and were very comfortable whilst they were on. managed to go around 8 hours using my tens machine before i got into the pool and demanded the entonox! lol
Having hired a TENs machine for my first labour I was eager to do the same for my second. I did a lot of research into the different types (pregnancy makes me hyper-manic and super-organised!) and eventually decided to buy this model; putting it to very good use 7 weeks ago.
What is a TENs machine?
A small battery operated device which is connected to self adhesive pads. The pads are stuck to certain places on the back and a small electrical current stimulates the body to release serotonin and endorphins-which can help with pain relief. Doctors seem to be divided on the efficacy of TENs (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation); generally it seems that the level of pain relief is dependent on the individual. Normal TENs machines have two pads and those designed for labour have four.
The MamaTENs is designed to be used as a labour aid, with three different stages or modes depending on the stage of labour. 'A' is for the first stage, 'B' is for the second stage and 'C' is for the placenta/afterpains. You switch between the modes by using the Mode button on the front of the machine and then use the arrow keys to raise the intensity of the pulses-each mode goes up from 1 to 15 as the pain of labour increases. There is a Boost button on the side which you press to get an extra burst of power during a contraction, then you press it again to return to the normal pulsing mode. All of the buttons can be locked so that you don't accidentally knock against them and up the power by accident.
The MamaTENs comes in a sturdy bag with a set of pads, instruction leaflet, belt clip, neck cord, spare set of batteries and the TENs unit itself. Prices range from £45 to £65 depending on where you buy it from. Spare pads are available to buy and I bought a second set for £6.95.
My Experience of TENs.
Obviously TENs doesn't work for everyone, but I found that it was very effective for me. I tried the unit at about 38 weeks pregnant (as recommended) so I could get used to the sensation and enjoyed it very much. My body felt completely relaxed and I couldn't stop smiling as I had such a general sense of well-being and happiness. This feeling continued for an hour after I removed the unit and was a very pleasant surprise, just a shame you are only recommended to do it once! The pulsing through the pads feels like little jolts in the back, vibrating needles or spiders legs possibly, but certainly not unpleasant. The feeling is rhythmic except when you press the Boost button which makes it a more solid enduring pulse. I never used Mode 'B' or 'C' as by the time I reached the relevant stages then changing the mode was absolutely the last thing on my mind. Mode 'A' did the job for me however!
TENs does take a while to work, it takes a couple of hours at least to build up the levels of endorphins in the blood to help against the more intense labour sensations. I used mine for 19 hours in my first labour and 17 in my second as I have a very long first stage but if you are expecting a fast and furious birth, its probably not worth investing. Likewise if you are hoping for a waterbirth as the TENS machine cannot be used in the water.
If you think you might use the TENS for a long time then its worth getting in some surgical tape to hold the pads on your back as the adhesive only lasts about ten hours or so because of sweating and moving around. In my first labour I huffed and puffed my way up to Boots, contracting madly, to get some replacement pads but this time around I just invested in surgical tape which was cheaper and didn't involve terrifying any innocent shop staff!
I was very happy with the TENs, I have no idea if it actually did anything for the labour pain but it was very useful during the labour. It gave me something to do with my hands during a contraction and made me feel like I was actually doing something to help myself, which kept me positive and happy. In the later stages when I was non-communicative it gave my birth partners a clue as to when I needed the gas and air put in my mouth.- every time I pressed the Boost button my husband put the nozzle in my mouth without me having to ask or indicate further. It also helped the midwives work out how close my contractions were without having to touch me or ask me lots of questions. I found this particular model much easier to use than the Boots model I used the first time around; the Boost button is much better placed for finding and pressing with your eyes shut, especially when it is dangling around your neck on a cord. Once pressed the sensation is similar to hard pressure in the lower back, something more useful for those with a 'back to back' or posterior baby where the contractions manifest as extreme back pain and long first stages. Both of my children were back to back and I found that the Boost acted as a helpful counter-pressure to my back contractions, almost as if I was being massaged there.
There were a few negatives I found-
::I found the screen hard to read, especially in the half light I was labouring in, so I couldn't always see the Mode and the level. In addition if I forgot to press the Boost button after a contraction ended then it stayed on which made it less efficient for the next contraction.
::My husband accidentally upped the level and thus the intensity by accident, whilst demonstrating to my mother how it worked. Unfortunately it was attached to me at the time and the sensation was extremely painful as my body had not 'worked up' to that level. It was similar to a mild electric shock and he didn't do it again! Don't let anyone use it for you unless you trust them!
::After the birth I forgot it was on, tried to stand up and got another shock when I pulled one of the pads partly off. Don't do this. It hurts. A lot.
::17 hours is a long time to have electric pulses on your body and the skin felt quite sensitive towards the end.
I'm very glad I had it though, wouldn't have laboured without it! It is more suited for those expecting a longer labour i.e. first time mums and those with posterior babies and you really need to have it on from the first contractions to use it to its full potential.
Having finished with it I managed to sell it on almost immediately for £20 to a friend. Considering I bought it for £56 (including the £7 spare pads) and the cost of a rental is between £25 and £35 for 6 weeks I thought this was good value for both of us!