The Many Uses of a Birthing Ball
Using a birthing ball has a number of benefits throughout pregnancy, during your labor, and even after your baby is born. So, what’s the difference between a gym ball (or swiss ball?) and a birthing ball? Apart from the fact that the latter is used during pregnancy, there’s no difference at all! As long as you have a size and firmness that’s comfortable for you, any ball will do.
Read on for more on birthing ball positions and exercises, how to choose the right size ball, and the facts behind one big myth!
What are the Benefits of Birthing Ball Exercises?
- It can help to ease cramps and pains in the back, abdomen, and pelvis.
- Sitting on the birthing ball at your desk or while watching TV can relieve pressure on your joints and bones.
- Gentle bouncing on the ball can help your baby move into a better position for birth (often recommended if the baby is in the posterior position).
- It’s a great way to get gentle, low-impact exercise, prevent unnecessary weight gain, and build the strength and stamina you’ll need for labor.
- During labor, it can help reduce discomfort and alleviate anxiety.
How to Use a Birthing Ball:
Using a birthing ball during pregnancy:
- To relieve back pain during pregnancy, sit stably on the ball with your feet slightly apart. Rock your hips gently to and fro, back and forth, or in circular motions.
- You could also try placing the ball between the small of your back and a wall and doing gentle wall squats.
- Replace your office chair (or your sofa!) with the ball and get ergonomic exercise without even knowing you’re doing it!
- Build stamina and get your blood pumping doing ball lifts. Stand comfortably on the floor with the ball at waist height and lift it above your head as you breathe in. Lower the ball as you exhale.
- Talk to your midwife about using the ball to practice positions for labor or to help reposition your baby ready for the journey down the birth control. If you plan to use a ball during labor, it’s a really good idea to get used to it before the big event.
Using a birthing ball during labor:
There are a number of different ways you can use the ball during labor. Particularly to rock your pelvis gently through the contractions and to take the pressure off your body. A number of studies show that women who use the birthing ball experience a shorter and less painful labor. You may also use a sling to hold onto for added stability.
Using a birthing ball after Baby’s born:
Yes – you can keep using your birthing ball after your baby is born! It’s a great way to alleviate postpartum pains and to get back into shape with low-impact exercises. Here are a few to try:
- Abdominal crunches: Lie with your back across the ball and your feet on the floor and gently raise your upper body.
- Leg curls: Lie with your back on the floor and your feet on the ball and pull the ball towards your butt with your feet.
- Ball squats: Just like in the pregnancy exercises above.
- Just sitting (or even feeding or rocking Baby). You get more exercise than you think!
Choosing the Right Birthing Ball Size:
If you can sit squarely on the ball, with your feet slightly apart and flat on the floor, then it is the right size. You don’t want it to be so big that you tumble off and hurt yourself or so small that you have to bend uncomfortably to sit on it!
Wondering where to buy a birthing ball? Check out Amazon.com’s selection here.
Can You Use a Birthing Ball to Induce Labor?
A friend (or internet forum) may have suggested using a birthing ball to induce labor. This one’s a wive’s tale. While you may be able to use the ball to ease your baby into a better position for birth, there is no real evidence to suggest that bouncing on a birthing ball will actually help to start contractions. Doctors do not generally recommend that you try and induce labor at home. Either your baby will come when he or she is ready, or your team will offer professional intervention. The ball is excellent for building strength and stamina for labor and for helping you to practice labor positions and breathing, but it will not actually start your labor any sooner. Stay calm and trust your prenatal team – things will happen when it’s time.
More Articles on Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery:
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