What's the difference between the standard & obstetric TENS Machine?

What's the difference between the standard & obstetric TENS Machine?

Did you know there are different types of TENS machines? There are standard pain TENS machines and obstetric TENS machines.

Often people will come across TENS machines at their local chemist or supermarket to use in their labour, but 99% of these are not designed for use in labour. Whilst I have heard some people do have positive experiences still using standard machines, most people are left underwhelmed or sometimes even annoyed by the sensation in labour.


What are the main differences between the two?

The boost button – A.K.A Your new best friend. When using a TENS machine there will be a constant low level tingle, this tingle is there for when you aren’t having contractions. The boost button boosts this sensation for the time when you need the most pain relief and allows the machine to work with your contractions. It is a simple click of the button at the start of the contraction and then you press it once again to release when the contraction ends – this ends the increased sensation and will bring you back down to the low level tingle. Standard machines don’t have this option, I have heard of people ‘hacking’ them by upping the power quickly at the start of the contraction and reducing it at the end – this will soon see you run out of ways to increase the intensity of both sensations as you’ll quickly reach max power. It is also a lot more work to press a button over 10 times versus 2.

Overall power – As obstetric TENS machines are designed with labour in mind the power settings generally go higher and Elle TENS has the Opti-Max technology to give you a reserve of power for the later stages. So you’ll be more likely to reach max power on a standard machine a lot quicker than an obstetric one.

Contraction timer – Some of our machines have a contraction timer built in. When you press ‘boost’ it will record that as the start of the contraction and end it when you press ‘boost’ again. This tells you how far apart your contractions are as well as how long they lasted for. You can even access the memory in the machine to see how your contractions have been progressing the last few contractions.

Size of electrodes - The electrodes that come with the obstetric machines cover more area than those that generally come with the standard machines.


If it is an option, it is highly recommended to get an obstetric TENS machine – halfway through labour with a subpar TENS machine isn’t something you’ll want to roll the dice on.

Did you use a standard TENS machine for your labour? How did you find it?

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