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

It is common knowledge that labor can be a very painful process for women, since, during this process, the contraction of the muscles and the pressure on the cervix generate a sensation of pain that can be described as an intense cramping that affects the abdomen, groin and lower back.

Because of this, methods have been developed to prevent women in labor from going through such high levels of pain. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) electrotherapy are used to counteract labor pain, thanks to their history of effectiveness in treating various types of ailments. Below, we will teach you all the points to take into consideration when using a TENS or EMS electro stimulator, and how to apply them to minimize labor pain.

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

By correctly applying electrotherapy treatment during the pregnancy process, it is possible to see a certain amount of benefits for both the mother and the baby, although it is necessary to take into consideration criteria such as the intensity necessary for the application of the electric current to be effective.

Benefits

The advantages of the application of TENS to the mother during labor stem from its overall effectiveness in relieving pain and its non-chemical and non-invasive nature, providing control over the pain caused by the process.

Among the main benefits of the use of TENS during labor, we can highlight the following:

  • Does not require ingestion or injection of drugs or other chemicals
  • It is possible to control the intensity of the shock to suit the sensation at the moment
  • Does not limit mobility in any way
  • It can be combined with other methods if TENS does not provide sufficient relief
  • Completely harmless for both mother and baby
  • Can be applied from the first contractions

How often to use?

The non-pharmacological nature of TENS therapy makes it one of the safest options for pain relief during labor, although it is necessary to take into consideration the use of a medium - high intensity, and a wide frequency between shocks for greater effectiveness.

With this said, the optimal range of intensity for TENS application is between 80 Hz and 100 Hz. This intensity is modifiable as the labor process progresses, maintaining a constant pulse frequency of 350 microseconds.

Best TENS machines to relieve labor pains

Childbirth is a very delicate process that inflicts a great deal of stress on the female body, so it is necessary to select the right devices, which have the right settings for the safe and effective application of TENS therapy. 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.

Video: How to place electrodes pads during childbirth?

Electrodes for childbirth

Electrodes for childbirth
Electrodes for childbirth
Electrodes for childbirth

In such a delicate process as labor, it is necessary to verify the positioning of the electrodes to be sure that they will act as expected, exerting their effect on the correct nerve branches.

First contractions

The ideal time to apply TENS units is at the beginning of the labor process, at the onset of the first contractions, since this is the stage in which its effect has proven to be most effective in most cases.

The positioning of the electrodes should be aligned with the areas where the nerves of the uterus and uterine canal join the spinal cord. While these are positions that may vary depending on the individual patient's sensation, the generally most effective locations are as follows:

  • On both sides of the T10 vertebra at the level of the
  • At the level of the S3 vertebra, on each side of the spinal column

With epidural

The application of electrical currents from TENS units allows an extra boost to be added to the effect of the epidural by increasing the patient's sense of relief, although in general the margin for improvement is not too great, since the epidural alone provides fairly complete relief.

The positioning of the electrodes with or without the use of the epidural remains constant, since the regions next to the spinal cord, at the level of the T10 and S3 vertebrae house the nerves that receive the greatest pressure during the delivery process.

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

Can electrotherapy be used during labor and delivery?

There is very little research regarding the effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for labor pain, however, there have been randomized trials in patients that suggest its use is favorable.

Studies conducted in 2011, 2013 and 2016 have shown that the use of TENS electrotherapy during labor can cause a considerable reduction in pain sensation, to the point where it can replace or at the very least postpone the use of analgesic medications such as epidurals.

Differences between TENS and EMS: Which is better for pain relief during labor?

While electrotherapy has proven to be effective in the treatment of ailments of various origins, it is necessary to be especially careful when dealing with a process as delicate as labor, so it is necessary to be fully aware of the effects of both TENS and EMS therapy.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy is a physiotherapeutic method aimed at treating ailments caused by disorders and traumas of varying severity.

During childbirth, it works through the application of electric shocks of variable intensity (1 Hz - 250 Hz) that directly affect the sensory endings of the sciatic nerve and the L5 nerve root, caused by the contraction of the transverse, oblique and rectus abdominis muscles and the deep musculature of the pelvic floor, mitigating the sensation of pain during the process of childbirth.

Electro Muscular Stimulation (EMS) works mainly as a physical conditioning method, focusing its functions on the stimulation of muscle groups by means of medium to high intensity electrical discharges designed to improve the strength, resistance and elasticity of muscle tissue by means of contractions that vary in frequency and intensity.

To date, there is very little evidence to support the use of EMS therapy to counteract the pain caused by labor, so the safest and most proven effective option is TENS therapy, thanks to its direct interaction with the nerves responsible for the sensation of pain in the abdominal, lumbar and pelvic area, and its ability to promote the release of endorphins, providing a natural reduction in the sensation of pain.

Can TENS be used with epidural?

Epidurals are the most widely used technique to minimize the pain of childbirth, and in most cases do not adversely affect the mother or the fetus. For this reason, applying Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation in conjunction with the epidural can help with pain relief during labor.

In addition, TENS therapy is presented as a solid alternative to reduce the mother's discomfort during labor when an epidural is not a viable option. For example, when the mother suffers from conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, certain heart conditions, epilepsy or simply the patient's desire not to apply the technique.

Can TENS current affect the baby?

The use of any type of electrotherapy is widely contraindicated during the first 12 weeks of gestation, due to the fact that during this stage the fetus is highly sensitive to any alteration and may suffer damages derived from the electric current. However, once this period has passed, the use of TENS therapy is completely safe.

The use of TENS during childbirth is recommended because it can contribute to reduce the sensation of pain in the mother without the use of chemicals, so it is possible to avoid future breastfeeding problems, in addition to not presenting any side effects for the mother or the baby.

Contraindications in 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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