Tens Unit for Lactation?
First, I have to thank the moms who posted this information on Facebook and let me share it. If you have seen my posts recommending a Tens Unit I am sure you have a lot of questions and I will do my best to answer them. The blog explaining it all is finally here!
What is a Tens Unit?
A Tens Unit is a small device that is used to stimulate nerves and muscles by producing small electrical currents to damaged areas of the body. Most often used by physical therapists for pain relief, promote healing and muscle strength. Who can use it? I recommend the tens unit for moms struggling with low supply, slow letdowns, clogs and moms wanting to re-lactate to produce breastmilk. Moms who shouldn’t use a tens unit are those with pacemakers or internal electrical devices.
How do you use a Tens Unit?
Typically a Tens Unit has 4 sticky pads and you stick a negative and a positive roughly 1″ away from either side of your nipples. Never place them on your nipples or over your heart. Use the settings you feel comfortable with. My suggestion is that if you have a clog or are getting ready to pump then use the higher settings you are comfortable with. Lower settings can be used for increasing your supply with continual use. What’s a great option about the Tens Unit is that you can leave it on for several hours, with or without using your breast pump; it is noiseless, motionless and discreet. It is so small you can keep it in your pocket and no one would be able to see it. If you intend to use it several times a day you can leave the sticky pads on so you are not constantly having to re-apply.
What does it do?
The Tens Unit provides stimulation much like a baby would. The electrical currents stimulate the nerves in your breasts and contract the milk ducks and stimulate the release of prolactin, the hormone responsible for your milk production. With continual use, you will stimulate and grow new milk tissue that will assist in producing milk. If you haven’t already done so you should get your hands on a Tens Unit.
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Using an electric pump with a double kit is best. This takes milk from both breasts at once. Not only does it save you time, but pumping both breasts at once results in higher prolactin levels, more let-downs and milk with a higher energy content than pumping one breast at a time. Double electric pumps can be hired from many local Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) groups. Make sure that your pump is working well and is suited to long-term use. Some of the smaller pumps, like those that take batteries or that only allow you to pump one breast at a time, are not designed for constant use and may lose their suction with time and just not work properly.
I love you blog! You are doing amazing work ❤️! Tens helps me a lot with my milk supply, but I would recommend giving Domperidone (Motilium) a try.. It is different. I am on Dom since my baby was 2 months old. It is easy to take and increases milk. So happy 😊 I found in Google “Getdom2bf” and got Dom. No side effects. I take 9 x 10mg tablets every 24 hours (ie. 3 tablets 3 times a day) and that keeps everything going nicely. Tens + Dom = great combination to my supply! Good luck to all!
Domperidone is illigal in the USA. It is not FDA approved for increasing breast milk supply and studies show that domperidone is linked to cardiac arrest in mothers.
Crystal, can you cite the studies finding cardiac arrest in breastfeeding mothers? It was my understanding dom was removed from FDA market approval in the US (NOT the same as being illegal, btw) because some older individuals had problems, not breastfeeding mothers. It was and is a controversial decision given its safe use with other populations.
I was referring to it being illegal for breastfeeding mothers for increasing milk supply.
I use dom it’s not illegal at all and it did and soes nmhslo my supply ! I was making 1-3OPD now I’m able to pump 3 oz per session
Domperidone is not currently a legally marketed human drug and it is not approved by the FDA for sale in the U.S.A. to lactating mothers.
It’s not illegal in the US you just cant buy it in the US. You have to go through a compound pharmacy.
You have to weigh the pros and cons. It doesn’t increase cardiac issues in women that don’t already have them. It is legal and easily attainable overseas.
The FDA is not the only reputable regulatory body.
If using the tens unit, do i still need to pump? If so, what should my schedule look like to promote lactation in an older lady?
Yes, you should also be pumping in addition to using the tens unit. The tens unit helps build prolactin and the pulling of the nipple helps release oxytocin, combined is a great way to help you.
I’m I started tens unit one week ago after stimulating and pumping for two weeks I’m 60 never been pregnant now gave clear discharge from nipples (only a few drops) is this a sign it’s working
It would sound like its working.
I’m a new mom at 40 yrs old…..I had complications with my pregnancy and when my daughter was born I was not able to see her until few days after by that time she was already taking donor milk from a bottle which caused my baby nipple confusion to the point she just refused my breast… So I’ve been exclusively pumping from birth until now. My daughter is 7 months old and now my milk has basically be depleted and since my cycle had come back full force it’s worse… I’m trying to relactate for my baby girl I’m ordering the tens unit for stimulation I’m taking herbal supplements and lactation cookies… How soon will I notice a change? How do I place the pads do they need to be in a circular pattern? When I wear them should I put on milk collectors too or pump after???
Hi LaToshia. There are 4 pads for the tens unit. I place one pad on either side of the breast but never on the nipple. Place the pads only on the breast tissue not on the chest wall. Other blogs say to continuously use the tens unit for 6 weeks if relactating. As you are using it with supplements and cookies you would likely have faster results on an increase. I would wear milk collectors.
Thank you I wasn’t sure if I needed to be pumping at the same time or after our during the wearing of them units…I do have milk collectors though so that’s no issue… My unit came today I’m eager to get started. Should I do the every two hours like I’m starting to breastfeed all over again?
LaToshia, what did you decide to do with pumping and using tens unit at the same time? I just got my Tens unit and wasn’t sure if I should pump at same time or not.
So I’m reading about using the TENS machine on my breasts not to help produce more milk but to help dissolve a breast cyst. I’ve not been nursing for almost 2 years now. Recently found a lump in my breast and ultrasound verified it is a cyst. The ultrasound tech recommended using a TENS machine on my breast and dry brushing to help drain the lymphatic system. My question is this…I’ve nursed eight babies and never had a problem with milk supply. I stopped nursing out last baby when she was 2yrs old. She’s almost 4 now. If I use the TENS machine to help dissolve the cyst, will it make me start making milk again? I do not want to start making milk again and then potentially deal with clogged ducts. TIA for any advice. I had never heard of a TENS machine before.
You would have to use the Tens every day, several times a day, for six weeks to possibly start producing milk. If you use it for the sole purpose of removing the cyst, you likely will not relactate.
I’m very nervous because of so many claiming it’s just to close to the heart! My breast aren’t big…. Hopefully not a stupid question 🥴
It’s not a stupid question. I have size B cups and a heart condition. I didn’t have issues using a tens unit, but of course, you should feel comfortable in the decision that you make.
I ordered the tens unit you linked on Amazon. Is there a recommended setting you like? Thanks!
You will have to play with the settings to see what you like/respond too. I have 3 blogs that talk about using the tens unit. Be sure to read all of them!
Can you post your blogs on how to induce milk, using the tens, regarding duration per day, settings and duration per session.
Every two hours for 30m minutes is ideal.