How to use a tens unit to aid in lactation

Written by angela baird
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How to use a tens unit to aid in lactation
Breastfeeding has great benefits for adopted babies and adoptive mothers. (the newborn image by Sergey Galushko from Fotolia.com)

Aided lactation becomes an issue for families adopting newborns and who want to breastfeed the adopted child. Since mother's body has not gone through the hormonal changes of pregnancy, she must artificially stimulate lactation through manipulation of the nerve endings around the nipple. Breastfeeding an adopted child brings the mother and baby closer with natural bonding, and breast milk offers a host of health benefits to a newborn, even without the colostrum produced by pregnancy. Aiding lactation with a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit (TENS) is a discreet way to aid lactation for women who are in the workforce every day.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • TENS Unit
  • Small bag with cord
  • Hospital grade breast pump

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Wear the TENS unit around your neck or waist in a small bag for easy access. The unit is small, about the size of four stacked Popsicle sticks.

  2. 2

    Attach the electrodes to your breasts on either side of the nipple and in line with the nipples. Attach a red pad and a black pad to each breast.

  3. 3

    Set the TENS unit to muscle stimulation. You are attempting to stimulate the nerves in the breast to imitate a baby suckling, which will cause your body to produce Prolactin, the hormone required for lactation.

  4. 4

    Turn the unit on for 15 minutes every two hours around the clock. A mild tingling sensation should be all you feel.

  5. 5

    Check for lactation periodically. Once milk appears and you are not yet nursing a child, use a hospital grade breast pump to empty the breast after you use the TENS unit. Emptying the breasts helps you lactate more.

Tips and warnings

  • Always check with your health care provider or OB/GYN before attempting to lactate to ensure breast health.

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