Can You Use A Tens Unit While Pregnant?

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June 6, 2023 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant

Yes, it is generally considered safe to use a tens unit during pregnancy, but it is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider first. A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (tens) unit is a device that sends low-voltage electrical current through the skin to stimulate nerves and provide relief from pain and discomfort.

Although there are no known risks associated with tens unit use during pregnancy, it is crucial to follow safety precautions and medical advice. Pregnant women should use tens units only under the supervision of a healthcare professional or a qualified therapist.

It is vital to understand the benefits and drawbacks of using a tens unit, as well as the appropriate settings and placement of pads, which vary depending on the stage of pregnancy and the mother’s individual circumstances.

Can You Use A Tens Unit While Pregnant?


Understanding The Tens Unit

Definition And Background Of Tens Unit

A tens unit, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit, is a device that uses low-voltage electrical currents to provide pain relief. It’s a non-invasive option to help manage chronic and acute pain by stimulating the nerves with electrical impulses. The tens unit is widely available, and most people use it as an alternative to medication.

Pregnant women, in particular, may turn to a tens unit to avoid harmful drugs that could affect their pregnancy.

How It Works

The tens unit produces electrical pulses that help to stimulate the nerves and promote the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. The device helps to mask the pain signals sent to the brain and provides some relief.

Tens units are suitable for a variety of pain types, including back pain, neck pain, joint pain, menstrual pain, and even labor pain during pregnancy. Here’s how the tens unit works:

  • The device sends electrical pulses through electrodes placed on the skin, which travels through the nerve fibers.
  • The electrical impulses help to reduce the transmission of pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.
  • The tens unit helps to promote the production of endorphins, which help to reduce the perception of pain.
  • The device also stimulates the production of other neurotransmitters, including gamma-aminobutyric acid (gaba) and serotonin, which help to relieve pain and produce a feeling of well-being.

Overall, the tens unit is a safe and effective alternative to medication for pain management. It’s widely available, non-invasive, and can be used by pregnant women with some precautions. Consult with your doctor before using any medical device during pregnancy.

Pregnancy And Pain Management

Finding pain relief while pregnant can be a challenge. Many moms-to-be wonder if a tens unit is a safe and effective option. In this section, we’ll dive into some important considerations when it comes to pregnancy and pain management.

Common Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can come with a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Round ligament pain
  • Pelvic girdle pain
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

While some discomfort is normal, it’s important to address any pain that is interfering with your daily life. In many cases, a tens unit can provide a safe, non-invasive form of pain relief.

Safety Precautions During Pregnancy

If you’re considering using a tens unit while pregnant, there are some important safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new form of pain management.
  • Only use a tens unit with a maternity tens electrode placement guide, which is specifically designed for use during pregnancy.
  • Start with the lowest intensity setting and gradually increase as needed.
  • Use the tens machine for no longer than 30 minutes at a time, and take breaks as needed.
  • Never place the electrodes over your abdomen, pelvis, or lower back, as this can interfere with fetal development.

Risks Associated With Drug Use During Pregnancy

Many common pain medications, such as opioids and nsaids, carry risks for fetal development and are not recommended during pregnancy. As a result, many women turn to complementary forms of pain relief, such as tens units.

While research on tens units and pregnancy is limited, the available evidence suggests that they are a safe and effective form of pain relief. However, it’s important to always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new form of pain management during pregnancy.

While pregnancy can come with its fair share of aches and pains, there are safe and effective ways to manage discomfort. By following the appropriate safety precautions and consulting with your healthcare provider, a tens unit can be a valuable tool in your pain management toolbox.

Tens Unit And Pregnancy: Pros And Cons

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey but also comes with several challenges, including physical discomforts such as back pain, pelvic pain, and contractions. A tens (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit is a device that uses low voltage electrical current to relieve pain.

But can you use a tens unit while pregnant? Let’s explore the pros and cons.

Benefits Of Tens Unit For Managing Pregnancy Pain

Using a tens unit during pregnancy has several benefits, including:

  • Non-invasive: Tens is non-invasive and doesn’t require any medication, making it a safe and drug-free option for pain relief during pregnancy.
  • Natural pain relief: Tens stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, providing natural relief from pain and discomfort.
  • Portable: Tens units are portable and can be used anywhere, anytime, making them a convenient option for pregnant women who are always on the go.
  • No side effects: Tens is a safe and side-effect-free method of managing pain during pregnancy, making it a popular choice among pregnant women.

Potential Risks Of Using Tens Unit While Pregnant

While tens is generally considered safe for most people, using it during pregnancy can present some potential risks, including:

  • Abdomen placement: Using tens on the abdomen during pregnancy can cause muscle contractions, potentially leading to premature labor.
  • Incorrect placement: Incorrect placement of the electrodes can stimulate the wrong nerves, leading to discomfort and increased pain.
  • Allergic reaction: Some women may experience an allergic reaction to the electrode gel used with tens units.

Is Tens Unit Safe During Pregnancy?

Although tens is safe for most people, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby before using it during pregnancy. It’s also crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using tens on or around the abdomen, pelvis, or lower back if you’re pregnant.

Using a tens unit during pregnancy has several benefits, including natural pain relief, portability and no side effects. However, there are potential risks associated with using tens while pregnant, which is why it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it.

By taking necessary precautions and following instructions, tens can be a safe and effective tool for managing pain during pregnancy.

Precautions And Contradictions

Precautionary Measures To Take Before Using Tens Unit During Pregnancy

When it comes to using a tens unit during pregnancy, there are certain precautionary measures that need to be taken before using it. Here are some of the critical aspects to keep in mind:

  • Before using a tens unit, consult with your doctor or midwife to see whether it is suitable for you.
  • Make sure you use a certified and safe tens unit that is suitable for pregnant women.
  • Familiarize yourself with the basics of using a tens unit.
  • Make sure that you are comfortable using the unit before using it.

When Not To Use Tens Unit During Pregnancy

While tens units are safe for most pregnant women, there are some circumstances where it’s not advisable to use them. These include:

  • Do not use tens units on your abdomen or lower back after the first trimester.
  • Do not use on or near the head or neck as this can cause spasms and twitching of the muscles, which means it could impact the baby.
  • Do not use a tens unit if you have a pacemaker or any other medical device implanted in your body.
  • Do not use a tens unit if you have any skin conditions or infections as it could worsen the condition.

Tens units can be a helpful tool for pregnant women to ease their pain. By following these precautionary measures and avoiding circumstances where it isn’t safe to use them, you can enjoy the benefits of tens therapy without any harm to yourself or your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions On Can You Use A Tens Unit While Pregnant?

Is It Safe To Use A Tens Unit During Pregnancy?

Yes, tens units are safe to use during pregnancy and are often recommended by doctors for pain relief.

How Does A Tens Unit Work During Pregnancy?

Tens units work by sending small electrical pulses to the affected area which help to reduce pain sensations during pregnancy.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Tens Unit During Pregnancy?

Using a tens unit during pregnancy can help to reduce pain and discomfort in the lower back and other areas of the body.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Using A Tens Unit During Pregnancy?

There are no known risks associated with using a tens unit during pregnancy, but it is important to talk to your doctor before using one.

When Should I Avoid Using A Tens Unit During Pregnancy?

If you have a pacemaker, are in the first trimester of pregnancy, or have any concerns about using a tens unit, talk to your doctor before starting treatment.


Pregnancy is a delicate phase, and it’s only natural to have concerns about the use of a tens unit during this time. However, based on the available research and medical advice, it’s safe to use a tens unit while pregnant.

But, there are certain precautions that are necessary to ensure safe use. It’s essential to consult with your medical practitioner before using a tens unit during pregnancy to ensure that you are healthy enough to use it. Also, it’s vital to use the tens unit according to the instructions and to avoid placing the electrode pads on certain sensitive areas of your body.

Remember to avoid placing the pads near the uterus, abdomen, lower back, or on broken or irritated skin. By following these precautions, you can alleviate pain and enjoy the benefits of a tens unit throughout pregnancy.

About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)

The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …