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How to use a TENS units & EMS machines during pregnancy? Placement of electrode pads

Pregnancy is one of the most complex natural processes of the female body and is one of the most stressful, causing a variety of hormonal and physical discomforts that vary as the pregnancy progresses. One of the main problems of pregnancy, are the ailments of various types that occur in the stages of the process.

For these situations, you can apply methods such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy and try to reduce as much as possible the physical discomfort of pregnancy. Below, we will show you how to apply TENS units therapy to relieve the different ailments caused by pregnancy, taking into consideration the criteria for its safe use, both for the mother and the fetus.

How to use a TENS device to relieve pain during pregnancy?

The effectiveness of using TENS therapy to deal with pregnancy-induced pain depends on the effectiveness with which the appropriate electrical current can be applied and the correct positioning of the electrodes. If these criteria are met, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation can offer a number of advantages.

Benefits

The direct action on the nerve endings of the electrical impulses provided by TENS units can greatly enhance the comfort of the mother in the last two trimesters of the gestation period.

Among its main benefits we can highlight the following:

  • No injections or chemicals are required
  • It is a non-invasive process
  • Can be applied directly to the most affected areas
  • You can control the intensity of the impulses
  • Harmless to mother or baby

How often to use?

Due to the fact that pregnancy puts a great deal of stress on different parts of the body, ailments can occur in multiple areas and the frequencies to be applied depend largely on the ailments to be treated and the intensity of the ailments.

For most cases, however, the ideal intensity for the treatment of ailments varies between 80 and 120 Hz, an ideal intensity to numb the nerve endings in the affected areas, while promoting the release of endorphins that reduce the sensation of pain.

Where to place the electrodes?

The positioning of the electrodes to apply electrostimulation varies in relation to the area in which the patient feels the greatest intensity of pain, so it is necessary to establish the priority areas to achieve optimal therapy.

The areas most prone to pain during pregnancy, and the positioning of the electrodes in these areas, are described below:

  • Abdomen: upper and lower segments of the anterior rectus muscle, on both sides of the navel.
  • Lower back: over the lumbar frame, on each side of the spine, at the level of the L4 and L5 vertebrae, over the iliac crests.
  • Legs: the first electrode on the medial head of the gastrocnemius, under the popliteal fossa, while the second electrode will be placed at the base of the external face of the calf.
  • Ankle: one electrode should be positioned on the head of the first metatarsal closest to the joint and the other just on top of the astragalinus.

Best TENS machines to relieve pain during pregnancy

A procedure as delicate as the gestation period can cause great stress on the body and lead to various ailments in the mother. However, in order to safely relieve these pains, it is necessary to take into consideration factors such as the use of the right device, which has the right settings to optimally treat the pains caused by pregnancy. Among these devices, we can highlight the following:

Omega - Wireless TENS muscle stimulator with 6 modes remote control and USB charger
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 6 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Electrodes: 6 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Wireless electrodes
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Portable and small size
  • Does not specify size and weight
  • Battery life not specified
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
The Omega brand presents what is, to date, one of the most complete and ergonomic wireless muscle electrostimulation devices on the market. This is the Omega Wireless TENS unit, which features state-of-the-art TENS technology for pain relief, applied to almost any part of the body thanks to its ergonomic and adaptable design.

It has 6 modes of use and 20 levels of intensity, which can be adapted to any part of the body according to the intensity of the pain and the size of the treated area. It does not require the use of an application or cables to work, as its electrodes are automatically connected to the remote control of the device, which has a touch screen that allows you to visualise and control the modes of use in a very simple way.

Acculove - dua channel TENS/EMS massager with 5 intensity levels and 4 electrode pads for pain relief
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 2
  • Modes/Programs: 35 Programs
  • Intensity: 50 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: 3 AAA batteries included
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • Portable and small size
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Includes user manual
  • Does not specify size and weight
  • No heat therapy
  • Powered by AAA batteries
The Acculove brand of physical therapy products provides its users with a professional quality electric massage unit that combines the best of TENS and EMS electrotherapy to create the most complete massage experience, all available in an incredibly compact machine that you can take anywhere you want and use at any time.

This device is powered by 3 AAA batteries that are included in the package. It does not require frequent changes or recharging, due to its efficient power consumption. Additionally, it has a dual channel function, so you can work different parts of the body simultaneously as required.

Hollywog - WiTouch Pro wireless and portable TENS unit with adhesive pads included
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 4 Programs
  • Intensity: 15 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: 2 AAA Batteries
  • Electrodes: 6 Pads
  • Display: No display
  • Size: 8.86" x 5.39" x 1.77" - 0.92 lbs
  • Control from mobile app
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes user manual
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Portable and small size
  • No screen included
  • Few types of programs
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
The WiTouch electrostimulation device is one of Hollywog's most popular and outstanding products, designed with high quality TENS technology, allowing you to apply it to any area of the body where you feel pain, with the aim of generating an instant sensation of relief. Its lightweight and compact design allows you to use it discreetly anytime, anywhere.

It features 4 effective and comprehensive electrotherapy programmes, including WiTouch's unique patented treatment programme; each programme offers 15 levels of intensity, with a professional-grade power output ranging from 0 - 100mA. The package includes the WiTouch device, 3 pairs of gel pads, 2 AAA batteries, a mini screwdriver to access the battery compartment and a quick start guide.

IRELIEV - DUAL CHANNEL TENSION PAIN RELIEF MASSAGER SYSTEM WITH 8 MASSAGE MODES
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 8 Modes
  • Intensity: 25 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: 3 AAA Batteries
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 2.14" x 5.5" x 7.08" - 0.33 lbs
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Portable and small size
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Good quality
  • Few types of programs
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
  • Battery operated
This electric massage unit provided by iReliev is one of the most versatile and, at the same time, simplest electrostimulation machines you can find, with 8 predefined modes of use 25 adjustable intensity levels, you can program it to fit your body's needs. Additionally, its dual channel function allows you to program more than one massage mode simultaneously to treat multiple areas of the body.

It has an interesting session timer function that allows you to adjust the duration of each therapy up to a maximum of 60 minutes. Its compact size allows it to be carried in your pocket, so you can take it with you from home to work, or on the road, and use it whenever you need it.

Easy@Home - Compact and rechargeable wireless TENS & EMS unit for pain relief therapy
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 6 Programs
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Electrodes: 2 Pads
  • Display: No display
  • Size: 2.0" x 1.7" x 0.5" - 0.04 lb
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Portable and small size
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Does not specify battery life
  • Display not included
  • Non-universal electrode replacements
Easy@Home's compact TENS unit is one of the safest, most practical and versatile ways to treat muscle and nerve pain anywhere, thanks to its TENS and EMS electrical stimulation technology, designed for localised pain relief.

Its ergonomic design allows you to position the electrode almost anywhere on the body, so you can apply the electrical impulses to biceps, triceps, shoulders, elbows, knees, ankles and any other area requiring treatment. It has 6 modes of use and 20 intensity levels, which can be easily adjusted from the two-button control built into the pad.

iReliev - Compact & rechargeable wireless mini TENS for specified for pain relief
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: Unspecified
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Electrodes: 2 Pads
  • Display: No Display
  • Size: 1.42" x 3.27" x 6.22" - 0.10 lbs
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes user manual
  • Portable and small size
  • Wireless electrodes
  • Rechargeable battery
  • No battery life specified
  • No intensity levels specified
  • No display included
The correct word to describe the effect of this compact electrostimulator from iReliev is "precision". It is a wireless device designed for the treatment of localised pain points. Due to its size and the fact that it does not require any wires to operate, it is completely discreet and can be used anywhere, while travelling and under clothing.

Its efficient use of TENS technology allows it to block pain signals before they reach the brain, making it a safe method of treating ailments. It also has a long-lasting lithium battery and an energy-efficient function, which switches the device off every 20 minutes. One of the best devices on the market in terms of portability, discretion and functionality.

TENS MAKER - Wireless TENS muscle stimulator for lower back and neck pain relief
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 20 Modes
  • Intensity: 15 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: No display
  • Size: Not specified
  • Wireless electrodes
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Includes user manual
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Does not specify measurements and weight
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
  • Battery life not specified
This wireless mini massager, brought to you by TENS MAKER, is one of the most compact and versatile ways to combat aches and pains caused by illness and injury with 15 levels of intensity to suit any type of pain. Its compact size and discretion make it totally portable, so you can make use of this amazing device at any time and place.

Upon purchase, you will receive not one, but two TENS devices, along with 4 gel pads, 2 sets of interchangeable batteries, 1 storage case and 1 instruction manual. This is one of the best cordless massage machines you will find, providing immediate relief for any type of ailment.

TechCare Massager - TENS snap-on massage belt with 2 silicone electrodes
  • No. of Programs: Not specified
  • Material: Silicone
  • Power Supply: Not specified
  • Size: One Size
  • Heat Effect: Not specified
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Portable and small size
  • No materials specified
  • One size fits all
The Techcare massager belt features cutting-edge technology in the field of electrostimulation for fat loss and abdominal muscle toning. It is compatible with the best TENS and EMS units on the market, and is one of the most sought after options for lower back pain relief as well as abdominal definition.

The package includes only the electro massage garment, so you will need a TENS or EMS electrotherapy unit to use it. Its compatibility with both types of electrotherapy makes it the ideal choice for both fitness and treatment of various ailments.

Compex - TENS & EMS belt with heat therapy for back pain relief with 8 modes and 2 levels
  • No. of Programs: 8 Modes
  • Material: Not specified
  • Power Source: Rechargeable lithium battery
  • Size: L/XL
  • Heat Effect: Yes
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • With heat therapy
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Portable and small size
  • Improves blood circulation
  • No material specified
  • Battery life not specified
  • Does not include carrying bag
This device is one of the best creations of the COMPEX brand of products. It is an electrotherapy belt ideal for the treatment of ailments and physical conditioning thanks to the application of TENS or EMS electrostimulation, which also includes the thermotherapy function.

The belt does not require connection to operate, which makes it portable and practical, in addition to having a low-profile design for use at any time. It is powered by a lithium battery and has 8 modes of use that cover a wide range of intensities.

AUVON - Dual channel TENS unit with 20 modes and 8 electrode pads of different sizes
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 20 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 10 hours)
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 4.12" x 2.24" x 0.43" - 1.54 lbs
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Includes user manual
  • Portable and small size
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Not for muscle hypertrophy
  • No heat therapy
  • No touch screen included
The AUVON electro stimulator is at the forefront of electro stimulation technology, combining TENS and EMS stimulation technologies to obtain one of the most complete treatments for acute and chronic pain, caused by injuries or illnesses, as well as an incredible complement for physical conditioning thanks to its muscle stimulation technology.

It has 20 modes of use that apply different types of massages oriented to treat a wide variety of ailments, and with its independent channel control mode you will have the possibility of configuring different programs for each of the channels individually, to apply different types of massages in various areas of the body.

How to use an EMS machine to continue training during pregnancy?

As a general rule, Electro Muscle Stimulation devices should not be applied at any stage of the gestation period, because the intensity of the electrical impulses and muscle contractions it causes can cause harmful effects for both the mother and the baby.

Due to the high intensity muscular contractions produced by EMS therapy, the mother's body temperature increases and because the fetus does not yet have its own temperature regulation, this increase may cause negative effects on the baby, in addition to the possibility that its use may cause premature contractions in the mother.

Video: How to place electrodes pads to relieve pain during labor?

Electrodes for childbirth

Electrodes for childbirth
Electrodes for childbirth
Electrodes for childbirth

More types of EMS electrostimulators and TENS machines you should know about

Can electrotherapy be used during pregnancy?

In general, electrotherapy is a fairly safe process to treat pain in most cases, as it is a non-pharmacological and non-invasive procedure, which can be applied autonomously. However, even such a technique has its contraindications.

In the particular case of pregnancy, it depends entirely on the type of electrotherapy. The use of TENS is largely contraindicated during the first trimester of pregnancy, since the fetus is very vulnerable to chemical alterations and may suffer damage if the electrical currents of the TENS device are applied. It is advisable to wait at least until the 15th week before starting to use TENS, if necessary.

EMS, whose objective is physical conditioning, is contraindicated during pregnancy in its entirety, since the intensity of the electric currents can cause a series of problems during the development of the fetus, generating alterations in its temperature, causing possible deformities, in addition to the fact that it can cause involuntary and premature contractions.

TENS vs EMS: What are the differences and which is better during pregnancy?

Electrotherapy is one of the most innovative and effective forms of physiotherapy in their respective fields, the most common being TENS and EMS therapies. In order to apply these therapies correctly during a process as delicate as pregnancy, it is necessary to know the effects of each of them on both the mother and the fetus.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a physiotherapeutic technique that uses electrical currents whose intensity varies between 1 and 250 Hz, in order to block nerve signals, preventing them from reaching the brain and preventing the sensation of pain from being registered.

This technique provides a great number of benefits for the mother in the treatment of the most common ailments during pregnancy, such as ankle, lower back and leg pain.

However, it is important to note that the fetus is very vulnerable to the electrical shocks of the TENS device during the first 12 weeks of gestation, so it is necessary to begin treatment after this period and only if necessary.

On the other hand, Muscular Electrostimulation is a training and conditioning method widely used as a muscular rehabilitation therapy, after a long period of inactivity due to injuries or surgeries. It uses medium intensity discharges, which vary between 70 and 150 Hz to generate contractions that activate the muscle tissue, promoting the creation of new fibers, and increasing its strength and elasticity.

One of the main contraindications of muscular electrostimulation is pregnancy, since the intensity of its electrical discharges can cause a series of side effects for both the mother and the fetus, which can range from deformities and temperature regulation problems, to premature contractions and risk of miscarriage.

Contraindications to the use of electrodes and electrotherapy

</p> <h3>Contraindications for electrode placement</h3> <p>
The placement of the electrodes is of utmost importance in electrotherapy, whether TENS or EMS, so here are some things to keep in mind before starting a session:

  • Symmetrical placement: the negative and positive poles of each electrode should be connected symmetrically. That is to say, if we use two pads, we should use one positive and one negative pole on each one, while if we use four, the equivalence should be two positive and two negative.
  • Do not cross the electrodes: you cannot use one electrode in the lower train and another in the upper train and more importantly, never cross the electrodes from the left side to the right side of the body and vice versa, since the current path can negatively affect the patient's health. For this reason it is always recommended to use the electrodes in a localized way.
  • Motor point: at least one of the electrodes, whether positive or negative, must be positioned over the motor point, which is the point where the greatest force is achieved in the muscle in question.
  • Control the intensity: the size of the muscle must be taken into account when choosing the intensity of the current, since the less volume and size the muscle has, the lower the tolerated intensity will be.
  • Be careful with the skin: EMS or TENS should not be used on recently depilated areas since the pores will be open and this could generate skin sensitivity. Do not use on irritated or reddened areas, open wounds or recent scars.
</p> <h3>Contraindications for the use of electrostimulation</h3> <p>
Being a therapy that applies currents to the body, it cannot be used for all conditions, therefore its use should be avoided in cases where the user suffers from the following conditions:

  • Epilepsy.
  • Cardiac pacemakers.
  • Circulation disorders and problems.
  • Abdominal or inguinal hernias.
  • Neurological disturbances.
  • Tendency to bleed.
  • Skin irritation, burns or wounds.
  • Diseases that affect muscle metabolism, such as diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome (diabetes, hypertension and obesity).
  • High uric acid levels.
  • Metabolic disorders and metabolic pathologies.
  • Inflammatory pathologies.

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