Skip to Content

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation use while Breastfeeding

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2021.

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding

Summary of Use during Lactation

Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) is a method of using electrical stimulation of nerves using electrodes affixed to the skin. It is most often used to treat pain. Two small, low-quality studies found it useful for alleviating uterine pain caused by breastfeeding in the early postpartum period in hospitalized women. There are also anecdotal reports of TENS being used for nipple stimulation to induce lactation in adoptive mothers.[1][2] However, no scientific evaluation of the safety or efficacy of this use could be located.

Effects in Breastfed Infants

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

A small, single-blinded study in Sweden compared high-intensity to low-intensity TENS for the alleviation of post-partum uterine pain during breastfeeding in the 24 hours following birth. The high-intensity TENS was more effective.[3]

A small unblinded study in Brazil compared uterine pain in hospitalized women who were experiencing uterine pain during breastfeeding in the immediate postpartum period. One group received TENS and the other did not. None of the patients used any other form of analgesia. Pain experienced at two different occasions during breastfeeding were compared. The decrease in pain from the first to second occasion was greater in the group receiving TENS.[4]

References

1.
Smith KL. How do I use a TENS unit to stimulate lactation? Breast Notes.com. Acccessed June 23, 2016. http://breastnotes​.com​/breastfeeding/BrFd-ReLac-TENS.htm.
2.
Baird A. How to use a TENS unit to aid in lactation. eHow Health. Accessed June 23, 2016. http://www​.ehow.com/how​_7530696_use-tens-unit-aid-lactation​.html.
3.
Olsen MF, Elden H, Janson ED et al. A comparison of high- versus low-intensity, high-frequency transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation for painful postpartum uterine contractions. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007;86:310-4. [PubMed: 17364305]
4.
de Sousa L, Gomes-Sponholz FA, Nakano AM. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for the relief of post-partum uterine contraction pain during breast-feeding: A randomized clinical trial. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2014;40:1317-23. [PubMed: 24750301]

Substance Identification

Substance Name

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation

Drug Class

  • Breast Feeding
  • Lactation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy

Disclaimer: Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.