Elle TENS Commonly Asked Questions

What is TENS?

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) works by passing mild electrical impulses through the skin, via electrode pads, into the nerve fibres which lie below.

The TENS pulses help your body produce its own pain relieving hormones, such as endorphins. The level of pain relief obtained varies from person to person.

Is TENS safe?

The Elle TENS is made by Babycare TENS. Babycare has an active medical device license with Health Canada for the Elle TENS. TENS is recognised as a safe and highly effective method of pain relief and is regularly recommended by medical professionals. 1 in 5 women in the UK use TENS in their labour, and the number of New Zealand women using them is growing rapidly.

How does Elle TENS work?

At the onset of labour, simply apply the four pads to your back as shown in the accompanying instructions and switch the TENS machine on. You will feel a pleasant pulsing sensation. This will help to raise the level of your own pain relieving chemicals known as endorphins. When experiencing a contraction, press the booster button for the extra surge of power needed to combat the pain. When the contraction ends, press the booster button again – it is that simple!

To build up endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers) the TENS needs to be in place for at least 40 minutes before the full effectiveness can be felt.   Often the effectiveness of the TENS machine is only realised once it has been removed. ​

How can I benefit from using a TENS during my labour?

  • It’s easy to use.
  • You control it.
  • It can be used for a home or hospital birth.
  • You can put it on or take it off as needed.
  • It’s an effective method of drug-free pain relief.
  • It’s safe for you and your baby.
  • It’s portable and non-invasive.
  • It will help you stay relaxed and in control.
  • You can continue moving while using it.
  • No unwanted side effects
  • It can safely be used when an external foetal monitor is in place.

 Most people can use a TENS unit safely. If you have epilepsy or any type of heart condition, please consult with your medical professional before using any TENS unit. 

Do not use a TENS unit if you have a pacemaker.

When should I start using my Elle TENS?

Use as early as you can after the onset of labour to allow time for your body’s pain relieving hormones to rise.

Can I use the Elle TENS if I am considering a water birth?

Yes, but not in the water itself.  

The Elle TENS is an excellent method for coping before you can enter the birthing pool but cannot be used in water. It’s best to wait until you are at least 4-5 cm dilated and in active labour before entering the pool, so using the Elle TENS before then will help you cope.

Can I use it with other methods of pain relief or medications?

Yes, TENS is drug-free. Many women will use it conjunction with gas and air.

For women who think they may want an epidural when labour becomes very intense, TENS can be helpful to get through the early part of labour until the point when it is appropriate to have an epidural placed.

Can I use my Elle TENS after my birth?

Yes. Elle TENS machines have been cleverly designed for use after labour too. You can use your machine for:

  • shoulder pain from breast feeding
  • menstrual pain
  • back pain
  • after pains
  • post-operative pain following a caesarean section

What other conditions can our TENS machines be used to treat?

The Elle TENS can be used to treat numerous pain conditions such as back pain, shoulder pain, arthritis, sciatica, sports injuries, migraine, period pain and post-operative pain.

If you are unsure about using TENS, please consult your medical adviser.

Please note

TENS cannot be used:

  • On open wounds that would interfere with the placement of pads;
  • If there is a history of epilepsy or seizures;
  • If you have a pace maker;
  • While labouring in water (but these are easily taken on and off before and after water use);
  • With an epidural or if you have an internal foetal monitor (external foetal monitoring is fine);
  • Before the 37th week of pregnancy (unless labour has begun).
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