The Drug-Free Pain Relief Option You Need to Know About

The Drug-Free Pain Relief Option You Need to Know About

Pregnant? Thinking about drug free pain relief options for your labour? Obstetric TENS machines for labour are definitely an option to consider and are growing in popularity in New Zealand.

TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy has been around since the 1960s. It is a safe, drug-free form of pain relief and widely approved and recommended by medical professionals.   

What is an Obstetric TENS machine?

A small battery-operated hand-held device, attached by thin wires to four adhesive electrode pads. The electrode pads are stuck to your lower back. When turned on, mild electrical pulses are sent to your skin to relieve your pain. 

Note: Women in labour should only use obstetric TENS machines designed specifically for labour pain relief (i.e. not a standard TENS machine). Obstetric TENS machines allow you to control the frequency and strength of the electrical pulses and have a ‘boost’ button.

You should also ensure the machine is FDA and CE approved. Cheaper, unapproved versions on the market are potentially unsafe.

tens machines for labour


How Does it Work?

The electrical pulses sent to your skin stimulate your nerves and prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. (If you are interested in more of the technical detail around this, there is a whole theory on it – google ‘Gate Control Theory of Pain’).

The stimulation of nerves also help increase the production of endorphins, your body’s natural pain killers. As well as the endorphins, the fact you are in control of the pain relief can help you feel less anxious. It can also help by acting as a big distractor from your pain and provide you with something else to focus on.


What Does it Feel Like?

A gentle, tingling sensation wherever the pads are stuck on the skin.



  • You are in control of the pain relief

  • No side-effects or drowsiness

  • Safe for mum and baby

  • Can still move around easily

  • Easy to use

  • Drug-free

  • Can use at home by yourself in early labour 

TENS is recommended for use in early labour and in the first stage of labour.  For best results it is recommended to start as early as possible, so the endorphins in your body have time to build up. You can start it at home before you leave for the hospital/birthing centre. If you plan to have a water birth keep in mind that it can’t be used once you’re in the water.    

Some women have reported TENS not making much of a difference to their labour pains.  However, many women have reported excellent results and most midwives support the use of TENS machines.

Rebecca hired a TENS machine for labour from Bella Mama. Her experience echoes that of most women:

“I found the TENS machine really helpful, especially during the early stages of labour…. loved the boost button! Highly recommended”.

If you’re after a safe, drug-free, pain relief tool why not give it a try? 


Bella Mama have obstetric TENS machines available for hire. We are happy to answer any questions you have and provide you with instructions on how to use it correctly.

You can have one delivered to your home or pick one up in person. Simply book online (a date near your estimated due date) or call us on 09 445 7591.

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