If you have read my birth story you will know that as well as gas and air, I used a TENS machine to help control my pain. I had never used one before, mainly because I hadn’t heard of them the first time around and wasn’t organised enough to look into it all the second time around. This time though, after the pain of my second labour, I knew I wanted to manage my pain better- especially as I had planned a home birth.
I didn’t end up with a home birth and my labour was probably too quick to feel the true benefits of the machine but I wanted to share my experience anyway. I was sent the MamaTENS which is an affordable machine for mamas wanting to manage their pain relief without the need for more intrusive options.
I had given Mr F the job of reading up on it all, I didn’t see the need to do it myself as he would be the one in charge on the day. We had a little practice at placing the pads on my back beforehand so he would know what to do, easy enough with 2 at the bottom and two in the middle of the back. He then had a little play with the controls to know how to ramp up the intensity when needed.
So how did I find it?
By the time I got to the hospital I was already 4cm dilated and in established labour. I’d gone from nothing to full whack in an hour or so and in that time we had been faffing around getting the girls to my mum’s house so hadn’t had any time to get the machine on before this point. In hindsight, I wish I had been wearing it for days beforehand – I had been having contractions for so long I could have done with the relief!
Once I had been admitted, Mr F was able to place the pads on my back and turn it up to a point that the pain was lessened. From the moment the pads were on I was definitely able to feel a difference- the pain wasn’t as sharp. I admit to being a little skeptical about it all but I would definitely recommend using a TENS if you are anxious about managing the pain yourself.
Like I said, because the labour was so quick, I didn’t get to feel the full benefit. I am sure if you have a more ‘traditional’ (whatever that means) labour that spans a whole day then you would be able to adjust the controls as the pain gradually increases. However, I did make good use of the boost button when the contractions ramped up at the end. I was also puffing away quite merrily on the gas & air so the pain was almost bearable… almost.
I honestly don’t know how people manage long labours- I have been very lucky to have had 3 quick births and so have never felt the need to have anything more than gas & air (mainly because there hasn’t been time for any other option). I’ve always thought that if I’d had hours and hours of pain I would definitely have wanted something stronger. Now though, having tried a TENS machine, I would 100% recommend it as an option before asking for anything stronger. That being said – everyone is different though aren’t they so you just do what you have to do!
Have you ever tried a TENS machine before? What did you think?