Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for adjuvant pain-relief during labor and delivery

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1998 Mar;60(3):251-5. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7292(97)00275-0.


Objective: We examined the efficacy of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in general and the new Freemom TENS device (LifeCare, Israel) in particular, for pain relief during labor and delivery.

Methods: The study group consisted of 104 women. Forty-six nulliparas (44.2%) and 58 multiparas (55.8%), all of whom used the TENS device for pain relief during labor. All participants completed a questionnaire on the degree of pain relief afforded them by TENS during the delivery and related questions. The objective evaluation was based on the documented labor and delivery parameters including medical interventions during delivery.

Results: The majority of subjects (72% of the nulliparas and 69% of the multiparas) considered TENS effective for the relief of pain during labor. Most of them (67% of the nulliparas and 60% of the multiparas) responded positively to the use of TENS in future deliveries. Sixty-five percent of the multiparas considered TENS at least as effective as the other pain relief methods they had used before. TENS significantly reduced the duration of the first stage of labor P < 0.001 for nulliparas, P < 0.005 for multiparas and it significantly decreased the amount of analgesics administered to individual patients. No significant difference was found in fetal heart rate tracings, Apgar scores and cord blood pH between the study group and an equal number of matched controls who used other forms of pain management.

Conclusions: 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. There were no adverse effects on mothers or newborns.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Pregnancy
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*