What is TENS?
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The device uses small electrical pulses to stimulate nerve endings in the skin and muscles. This feels like a tingling sensation on your skin. This helps relieve pain by interrupting pain signals to the brain (gate control theory), and helping your body produce endorphins.
Is TENS safe?
TENS is absolutely safe when used properly. In the study, there were "no adverse effects on mothers or newborns."
Is TENS effective?
In the study cited below, the conclusion states: "TENS is an effective non-pharmacological, non-invasive adjuvant pain relief modality for use in labor and delivery. TENS application reduced the duration of the first stage of labor and the amount of analgesic drug administered."
What are the benefits?
TENS is self administered and self controlled. It can be turned on and off, with the effects dissipating immediately when removed. TENS also allows you to keep moving and be in any position you like. You are also completely clear-headed, unlike some pharmacological pain control. TENS may also help you delay or avoid pain reliving medication.
What are the disadvantages?
TENS can not be used in water. It also can not be used if you have epilepsy or a pacemaker. The pads should not be placed over broken skin.
TENS is most effective when you begin using it early in labor. For this reason, I rent TENS units to my clients, so they can use it even before calling me if they chose.
For further reading:
This week, I was reading the new Consumer Reports on c-section rates. To put the jumble of numbers in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends that the c-section rate should be no higher than 15%. Our current national average is 33%.
According to Consumer Reports, as of March 2017, these are the cesarean rates in our area:
Memorial Hospital- "17% of first-time mothers with low-risk deliveries had a C-section"
St. Joseph's Candler - "40% of first-time mothers with low-risk deliveries had a C-section."
Also, from The LeapFrog Group, I was able to find out the episiotomy rates.
Memorial Hospital- 2.6%
St. Joseph's Candler- 15.3%.
But these two places are not the only choice for birth in Savannah!
The Midwife Group & Birth Center reports a hospital transfer rate of 9.59% with a 4% c-section rate for 2016.
Savannah Midwifery - "GeorgAnna's transport rate (of women in labor from home to the hospital) is 5.26%, or 5 clients in 6 years. Newborn transport rate is 3.94%, or 3 in 5 years (two to the hospital, one to their Pediatrician). One Savannah Midwifery client who transported from home to hospital had a non-emergent cesarean."
Don't get me wrong, I am glad we have c-sections. They are truly life-saving when needed. The problem is that providers are becoming more likely to recommend this procedure- a major abdominal surgery- for reasons that are not evidence based. No surgery is without risks, so the decision for a cesarean birth should always come after a risk-benefit analysis and with the family's informed consent.
C-sections are birth, and birth is beautiful.