Seven in 10 mothers say a Tens machine relieves labour pain

A new survey by Which? has revealed that 68% of women who used a Tens machine during labour found it helped reduce the pain of giving birth.

Our research found that 22% of women used a Tens machine to help relieve the pain felt during labour. Of those, 28% said they found a Tens machine very effective, while 40% said it was fairly effective. Only one in 10 found using a Tens machine to be not at all effective in helping to manage the pain.

Tens machines pass small electric pulses to your body via electrode pads attached to the back. It is not known exactly how a Tens machine helps to relieve pain, but it is thought that it ‘distracts’ the nerves which transmit pain. They can also boost the level of endorphins – your body’s natural painkillers – being produced.

Our 2014 survey of mothers found that, of the women who used a Tens machine to relieve pain while giving birth, 37% bought their own, 30% hired one and 29% borrowed the machine from a friend.

Angela Newton, Which? Birth Choice spokesperson said:

“The jury is still out on the medical effectiveness of Tens machines but most of the mothers we’ve spoken to found them a real benefit. To help you decide whether a Tens machine is right for you, speak to your midwife to get their professional opinion and details of recommended products.”

Which? has a Which? Birth Choice website that allows mothers-to-be to find out more about different types of birth, from water births to home births, as well as giving informative, impartial information on pain relief options. The site allows you to view hospital and birth centre statistics and facilities in your area and also details whether the locations you’re looking at provide Tens machines.

Notes to editors:

1. Methodology on survey: Between 21st February and 4th March 2014, Which? asked 2,005 parents of children aged 5 and under about the baby products they have bought or used. We asked them to rate products on a scale of one to 10 for usefulness, excluding the core products of: pushchairs, car seats, high chairs and cots/cot beds.

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