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How to use a tens unit to aid in lactation

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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

  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.

  6. Warning

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

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Things You'll Need

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

About the Author

Angela Baird

Angela Baird has been writing professionally since 1995. She has a wide range of life experiences from work with abused animals with the Humane Society, to more than 20 years of hands-on experience in the culinary arts. In addition, she keeps horses and does her own home improvements and home gardening.

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