The Birth Ball is a versatile tool that can be used in pregnancy through to the postpartum period. It’s benefits are vast and with a price tag of only $15-30 dollars, it is well worth the investment!
1. The birth ball can be used in different ways and positions to help stretch all sorts of muscles but just sitting on it alone opens the pelvic floor muscles and helps you gain flexibility in the thigh and hip muscles.
2. The birth ball can be used for prenatal exercise, increasing overall stamina for your upcoming birth. Think squats, pelvic tilts, leg lifts, lunges, etc.
3. If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, the birth ball or even a fancy ball chair is a healthy alternative to a regular seat. It relieves spinal pressure, improves posture and balance, and increases blood flow to the uterus and baby. Use it while eating a meal, watching television, or doing various seated activities around your home.
4. For the end of pregnancy and in labor, sitting on the birth ball alone can provide rest and relief to tiring ankles/feet/legs while still ensuring an upright position, allowing gravity to play a role in the progression of labor. It also helps with optimal fetal positioning – keeping baby in the ideal left occiput anterior (LOA) position for a smooth and comfortable labor and pushing stage.
5. In labor, the birth ball allows versatility in position change. You can sit on it and do hip circles in a hula-hoop motion, rock side to side, bounce gently up and down, rest the ball on the bed or against the wall to rest on, use it to melt over in hands and knees or the child’s pose position, the list is endless.
6. The birth ball can be used as a comfort measure. The ball enlarges the pelvic outlet, provides counterpressure to the thighs and perineum and relieves the discomfort of contractions while making them more effective.
7. If baby’s position is causing back labor, doing hip circles clockwise and counterclockwise, using the ball to do pelvic rocks on, and getting in the hands and knees position relaxing over the ball with a support person such as a doula providing counterpressure and a heat pack to the lower back can encourage baby to turn while providing comfort and relief to the laboring woman.
8. Overall, evidence shows that using the birth ball in labor provides comfort, relieves pressure and pain, and makes contractions more effective which results in a shorter, more comfortable labor and birth with less need for pain medications and medical interventions.
9. The birth ball can be used in the postpartum period again for stretching, exercising and resting on for improved posture, balance, and stamina.
10. It is an excellent tool for soothing an upset baby and putting them to sleep. Simply darken the room, put some white noise on and bounce up and down gently with your baby in your arms or a baby carrier. They will appreciate it even more if it was utilized in pregnancy and birth and the motion is a familiar one for them, mimicking the womb.
Most hospitals have birth balls ready for use, this is something you can ask and ensure is the case on your birth facility tour or simply ask your provider in a prenatal appointment. Even if your facility does have them, it’s not a guarantee that they will have the right size available for you when you need it. If you decide the investment is worth it for your pregnancy, labor and postpartum period, use the following sizing chart and guidelines for proper size and use:
5’ 2” or shorter — 53cm ball
5’ 3” – 5’ 10” — 65cm ball *most common*
5’ 11” or taller — 75cm ball
· Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the ground, your knees should be bent at a 90 degree angle.
· Add or release air to the ball to match comfort level
· Make sure to use the ball safely in a stable environment and with a support person near if needed