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The following steps are a guide to using a TENS machine during labour:
- Check the machine is turned off before placing the pads on your back. It’s best to have another person such as your birth partner place the pads on your back for you.
- Place two of the electrode pads on either side of your spine, with the tops of the pads at about bra-strap level.
- Place the other two lower down, at about the level of the dimples on your lower back, just above your bottom.
- Switch the machine on, starting with the controls at the lowest setting.
- Turn them up gradually as your contractions get stronger, or when the pain in your back gets worse.
- Use the boost button at the peak of each contraction. The boost function results in more intense, wave-like tingling or buzzing sensations.
- Remember to turn off the boost button again when the contraction has ended. This is so you feel the benefit of the boost next time you have a contraction.
- Keep mobile. Moving around during labour helps you to feel in control and will make TENS more effective.
- Don’t give up straight away if you think TENS isn’t doing anything. You may need to keep using it for at least an hour before it starts to work for you.
- If the pads start to lose their stickiness, rub a few drops of water into the gel side of the pads before putting them back on. The more firmly the pads are stuck on, the better they’ll work.
- If you don’t think the pads are helping you after a while, take them off. You are in control of your labour and what is working for you. All other forms of pain relief, both medical and non-medical, are still open to you.