lactation started without the benefit of a
recent pregnancy is difficult, in that it
requires your actively stimulating and
“expressing” your breasts for ten to fifteen
minutes each, at least every 3-4 hours,
throughout the 24-hour day. This expressing can
be either suckling by a partner’s mouth, manual
expression with your or your partner’s hands, or
pumping with a breast pump. If your work
schedule keeps you from finding the time to
express your breasts during the day by any of
these techniques, your breasts will be slower in
responding and it will require a longer time to
fourth method of breast expression is the use of
a TENS Unit, which stands for Transcutaneous
Electrical Nerve Stimulation (which basically
means the unit stimulates your breast and nipple
nerves through the skin of your breasts). It is
a medical device that produces a very low
electrical micro-current that flows from one
electrode (pad) of each channel on the TENS unit
to the other electrode of the same channel. Some
TENS Units have only two electrodes (single
channel) while others may have four electrodes
(two pairs – two channels) or three or four
channels. Two channels would be a better choice
because it could be applied to both breasts and
used simultaneously. These electrodes are placed
a small distance apart on your breast areola.
The TENS unit relies on the surface of your skin
as the conductor of that electrical current, to
complete a tiny circuit. You often cannot feel
that electrical current… you can only feel your
nerves reacting to it.
original purpose of using the TENS Unit is to
stimulate the nerves in your body to “hide” pain
such as lower back pain, etc. In this case, it
is used to stimulate the nerves of your
breast... mostly nerves in your nipple area,
which promote the release of prolactin by your
Pituitary Gland (in your brain). That induces
growth and development of acini tissues in your
breasts and leads to lactation.
Everyone should be concerned about the effects
that any electrical device has on their heart.
If you are wearing a
pacemaker, you should not use a TENS Unit
without discussing it with your doctor first.
The following is what Dr. Jim Bowman says
about the safe use of a TENS Unit on your
“ The amperage of the current is what is
critical in triggering heart arrhythmias. TENS
units have an extremely small micro amperage
current and it would be very unlikely for one to
trigger an arrhythmia. Some of them can run for
a week on a watch battery. TENS units generate a
high frequency alternating waveform. It tends to
be very non-penetrating, running superficially
in the skin and it disperses in the tissues
rapidly. It is quite effective in triggering
nerve endings. Depolarizing the heart would not
be very likely with this high frequency.
Defibrillators use either a direct current or a
low frequency alternating sine wave current.
They are of course, very effective at
depolarizing the heart. If you have an
implanted pacemaker or defibrillator do not use
a TENS unit in this fashion. Each channel of
a TENS unit connects to two pads. The current
travels between these pads. It would be best to
use 2 pads (one channel) on each breast rather
than having one pad on each breast with the
current traveling through the chest between the
breasts. Using two channels should be very
(personal communication with Dr. Bowman)
The idea is for the pads to be attached to your
breasts before you get dressed. They can be used
inside your bra (if you wear one) or simply worn
under your outer clothing. The control unit can
slip into your bra between your breasts, hang
from a cord around your neck, clip to your belt
or slip into your pocket. It makes no vibrations
or noise, and can be running while you are
working at your desk, in a board meeting, or
having lunch with your friends. You merely turn
it on when you want it to function and turn it
off when you are finished with it.
The intent of using this unit is not to replace
your partner’s oral expression or your manual
expression of your breasts, or your pumping, but
to substitute in their place when you are not
able to take time away from work to suckle,
express or pump. More than that, however, it can
also be used all day long if you are not able to
suckle, express or pump, for about fifteen
minutes every two hours.
you place the TENS Unit on your breasts, use the
two wires from one channel of the TENS unit on
one breast. The electrodes (pads) will be marked
in some way, indicating that one electrode is a
"+" electrode and the other is a "-" electrode.
Do not intermix the channel wires… be certain
that both wires from each channel go to a single
breast. Place the “+” and the “-“ electrodes of
the second channel on your other breast. Examine
the image below of a lovely client that offered
her image as a demonstration photo. Notice there
are two channels, each channel having a “+” pad
and a “-“ pad.
Channel One Channel Two .
pads on the ends of each wire should be placed
one on each side of each nipple, about one inch
from your nipple. Looking in the mirror, the
four pads and your two nipples should all be
lined up in a single row:
(+ Pad) __ (L. nipple) __(- Pad) __ Cleavage __
(- Pad) __ (R. nipple) __(+ Pad).
The image above shows what this is like.
TENS unit may have several settings that you can
adjust. Some suggestions might be:
Wave Form: Choose the one that
indicates it is for massaging.
Amplitude: This basically means
the volume or the current. Adjust it to a low
setting. It should give you a pleasant
"tingling" in your nipples or areolae.
Pulse Width: This basically means
how long each pulse lasts. Considering the
'pulse' of a baby's suction is possibly half a
second, I would try the longest pulse, or 250
Frequency: This should be the same
as a baby that is sucking. I would set it at
the TENS Unit for ten to fifteen minutes every
two hours. Any more time than that will not
produce any more prolactin and prove to be
need to continue the oral or manual expressing
or pumping of your breasts whenever you can. Use
the TENS unit only when you are not able
to suckle, manually express, or pump. Once you
start producing milk, the TENS will make your
milk run and wet your blouse. If you can catch
your milk that is produced you can use the TENS
to stimulate your breasts if you want to.
However, remember that if your milk is not
removed from your breasts, your body assumes
that you do not need the milk and your breasts
start to become “weaned”… you will actually work
backwards and lose what you have built up.
do use a TENS Unit, please consider keeping me
informed on your progress. Your experience will
be very helpful for others that are waiting to
hear your results.
are interested in using a TENS, there are a
couple of units listed below that seem to
fulfill the needs of other ‘clients’ who are
seeking to stimulate lactation. Normally the
smaller it is the less obvious it is, and less
noticeable. If you click on one that is listed
on this website, it will link you directly to
Amazon.com, and you can read more about it or
browse and look at their other many selections.
If you purchase it (or anything else) from
Amazon while you are there, the price, quick
delivery, and warrantee that Amazon.com is
famous for will still be with you, but Amazon
will actually award BreastNotes.com a couple
percent for a “finder’s fee” to help support the
website, and you will cause Amazon.com to
support better breast health for women
hesitate to contact me either in SNCLIST or at
home if you have any questions.
Smith, Breast Health Facilitator for the ACS
and webmaster of