Are you planning a natural birth? If so, there are tons of tips and tools (and hundreds and thousands of years of proof that women are capable of birthing naturally!) to make the big day a little less stressful on your body.
For example, consider a birthing ball. Birthing balls have so many known benefits to help mothers before, during and after labor. Read on to find out more.
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What is a Birthing Ball?
A birthing ball is a simple. Standard exercise ball that you can use for pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Not only is it affordable, but it’s also a safer alternative to exercising. It also assists in flexibility and stabilization.
It’s important to understand your limits while pregnant. It may not be suitable for you if you are ever dizzy or unable to stabilize your body on the ball.
Birthing Ball Benefits
During Your Pregnancy
- Helps to ease back pain.
- Gets the baby in the correct position for birth.
- Strengthens your core and helps with balance.
- Helps with breathing during the 3rd trimester.
- Opens up the pelvis.
- Increases blood flow to the uterus.
- Allows your baby to move down in the birth canal due to movement gravity.
- Shortens labor and labor pains.
- Helps relieve back, hip and pelvic pain.
- Assists with exercising and stretching.
- Aides for a shorter recovery phase.
Where to Buy a Birthing Ball
Since birthing balls and exercise balls are the same, you can just purchase one at your local store or online. Keep in mind of the following purchasing guidelines for your safety.
- Make sure to purchase a ball with anti-burst materials.
- Depending on your height a ball should be 65cm for 5ft 8in or shorter. 75 cm for 5ft 9in or taller.
- Make sure to buy a good quality ball. A safe ball should be able to support weight up to 300kg/661 pounds.
When Can You Start Using Birthing Ball?
The sooner you start, the better! Starting early will allow you to build up strength in your muscles as your belly grows and gets heavier. Many moms are starting to swap out their office chair for an exercise ball as soon as they discover they’re pregnant! However, it is more common to use the birthing ball from 32 weeks onward when you start experiencing the effects of the growing little one, from back pain and not being able to breathe comfortably.
How to Use Birthing Ball
Birthing Ball Pregnancy Exercises
Before you begin, make sure you are warmed up and comfortable on the exercise ball. You should be warmed up and comfortable before you do any exercises, with a birth ball or otherwise!
It may help not to blow up the exercise ball all the way to make it easier to sit on as well as to keep it from rolling too much.
- Balancing: Sit on top of the ball, arms by your side and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. This will activate your back, abdominal and leg muscles to keep you balanced.
- Ab Crunch: Sit upright on the ball, then walk your feet forward, keeping your feet in front of your knees. Continue taking small steps until your lower back rests against the ball. Your feet should be flat on the floor and knees bent. Keep note your hips should be lower than your shoulders, and your body should be at an incline. After you place your hands behind your head, exhale contract abs in toward the spine and lift your head. Release and return to an incline position. Once you complete your reps, then walk your feet back so you can sit up safely.
- Bridges: Roll the ball into the incline position then walk your feet out till your head, neck and shoulders are resting on the ball. When your hips are as high as your shoulders, release and let your hips lower slowly down to the floor.
- Pile and Life Stand: Hold the ball with both hands and feet two feet apart. With you knees bent and toes out, make sure you’re extending your arms towards the floor. Keeping your back straight and torso lifted, raise the ball up overhead. The lower your arms to repeat.
- Wall Squat: With the exercise ball between your lower back and the wall, lean against the ball and walk your feet out, so they are in front of your belly. Place your hand on your thighs and slowly bend your knees into a squatting position. Make sure your knees align with your ankles and no lower that your hips.
Birthing Ball to Induce Labor
The following are exercises you can do to help progress labor. You can use a birthing ball in a hospital or at home if you’ll be doing a home birth. It’s extremely versatile and straightforward enough to assist you through labor.
- Sitting straight on the ball will take the pressure off your sitting bones.
- Slight bouncing will open your pelvis and quicken the labor stage.
- While sitting on the ball, move in circles. This aids in bringing on contractions and helps your baby to be in the best position for birthing.
- Leaning on the ball will take the pressure off your back as well as help with back pain.
As a bonus, here’s a terrific video from Evidence-Based Birth about using a birthing ball during labor.
SPOILER: Women who used a birthing ball during labor reported experiencing less pain, “higher satisfaction scores, higher levels of self-confidence, and were more satisfied with their partners’ support.”
Whether you are recovering from postpartum pain or looking for a safer, gentler way to exercise post-birth, you can start exercises such as squats, lunges and side-laying lifts to get you back on track post pregnancy. Be sure to get the ok from your doctor before you start exercising.
There are so many uses of a birthing ball that every pregnant mother should try. It’s inexpensive, easy to use and has so many benefits for a natural birth. If your goal is to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, a birthing ball is something you can utilize today.