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351 Radnor Rd
Delaware, OH, 43015
United States

(614) 432-6695

Jenn Elfner Birth & Photography | Experienced certified doula and professional birth photographer. Services include fresh 48, newborn, family, and pregnancy massage therapy. Columbus & Central Ohio


TENS Unit | Pain Management Tool

I provide my doula clients with the option to borrow my TENS unit during their labor. The use of TENS in labor is for pain management, specifically targeted at back pain. I have completed a training workshop that allows me to instruct my clients in the use of TENS during their labor. There is no additional charge for the use of my TENS unit during your labor. New electrode pads are provided for each client.



Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is the transmission of low-voltage electrical impulses from a handheld battery powered generator to the skin via surface electrodes. Those mild electrical impulses are transmitted through the skin where they stimulate nerve fibers. Pain relief with TENS is attributed to the Gate Control Theory and the Endorphin Theory.


The central purpose of TENS is a reduction in labor pain, specifically the lower back area. Some benefits of using a TENS unit for labor pain relief are:

  • woman (or her partner) is in control of the stimulation
  • freedom to move and walk
  • no decrease of mental function
  • continued active participation in labor by the woman
  • (may lead to) postponed request for pain medication
  • no loss of sensation or contraction pain
  • has not been shown to interfere with fetal monitoring units


  • don’t use in the shower, tub or near water
  • do not place heat directly over the TENS unit
  • do not use around flammable gas (i.e. remove TENS if oxygen is used during labor)
  • do not place electrodes over on a pregnant woman’s abdomen
  • do not use before 37 weeks gestation
  • do not use if skin is inflamed, injured or has a rash
  • do not use with a demand-type cardiac pacemaker, or a seizure condition


Use of TENS during early labor allows for a buildup in the endorphin level. There is not a specific point during labor at which TENS should be started, as it may provide benefits throughout all stages of labor.

  • wash and dry skin to be stimulated
  • put batteries in the unit (make sure the unit is turned off)
  • insert lead wires to the unit
  • place electrodes on the skin, per instructions
  • connect the lead wires to the electrodes
  • turn the unit on and increase the burst mode to comfort level
  • push the boost mode during contraction (turn off after contraction)
  • when done using turn the unit off, disconnect lead wires to the electrodes, remove electrodes (place on coated paper provided for reuse), remove lead wire from unit, remove batteries and pack all equipment into storage bag provided.