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You may have seen an exercise ball in your yoga class or at the gym but unlike popular opinion, these inflated exercise balls aren’t only great for workouts. Birthing ball exercises can be tried during pregnancy and labor as well. An exercise ball can be used even after giving birth. When exercise balls are used in this manner, they are often referred to as birthing balls.
Here’s what you need to know about a birthing ball and why some women consider using a birth ball during pregnancy and labor.
What Is A Birthing Ball?
Birthing balls are almost the same as exercise balls. They are both made of durable and anti-burst material that make them difficult to puncture. However, an exercise ball used at the gym happens to be much smaller than a birthing ball.
Birthing balls have an anti-slip finish and are larger and better for comfort. This is a must-have feature in order to sit on the ball for longer periods without slipping off.
Why Use A Birthing Ball During Pregnancy?
Inflatable exercise balls are often known as birthing balls. These are used during pregnancy, labor, and after giving birth. These may also be used during labor, delivery, and when used in this manner, they are often called Birthing Balls. These balls are not just great for workouts but can also be used during labor and delivery. Some women consider these as godsend birthing tools. Birthing ball exercises for labor can be really beneficial.
Use Of Peanut Birth Ball Exercises
In simple words, a birthing ball can relieve back pain and help your upper body feel more comfortable during labor. Most birthing balls are round, but you may also get some in the shape of a peanut.
Peanut-shaped birthing balls are made of anti-burst material just as a round birthing ball. But instead of being round, these birthing balls are in the shape of a peanut. That is, the birthing ball is larger on the ends and has a narrow middle, like a peanut. You may face difficulty in using a regular birthing ball while lying on your back on the bed. Therefore, you can use a peanut birth ball in this position.
It is much easier to get into a comfortable and relaxed position while you rest or sleep. A peanut birth ball can help during labor, as you can put your legs comfortably. A peanut ball can help in reducing back pain during labor and throughout pregnancy.
Birthing Ball Exercises To Induce Labor
There are no rules or compulsion that you have to use a birthing ball during labor or pregnancy. Many women do not prefer a birth ball. However, it is suggested that using a birthing ball during pregnancy (either peanut or round birth ball) can be useful in several ways.
Pregnancy and delivery can be exhausting and tiring for the body. At the same time, every woman’s experience is different. While many women have general complaints of stress, back pain, and pelvic muscles or abdominal pain. But according to some personal experiences, a birthing ball can help improve some of the symptoms and allow for a smoother labor and delivery.
Birthing Ball Exercises: Benefits And Uses
Do not think that you can use birthing balls only until labor. Using a birthing ball can also be helpful in pain relief during pregnancy. Sitting on a birthing ball can reduce pressure in the leading months or weeks of delivery.
It is likely to face difficulty while sitting on a chair, a couch, or a flat surface during pregnancy. On the contrary, the curve of a birthing ball may reduce pressure in your pelvic muscles, lower back, and spine.
Sitting on a birthing ball in the upright position can encourage the opening of your pelvic muscles too. It may allow room for your baby to descend into the pelvis in preparation for birth.
Sitting On The Ball During Labor
It is also suggested that using birthing ball exercises for labor can help in reducing stress and anxiety. When you sit on the ball and move back and forth it reduces labor pain too. Almost 203 women admitted to the hospital with labor pains had completed 30 minutes of birthing ball exercises. The women showed significant improvements in their anxiety and pain level after the birth ball exercises.
There are a lot of women who suggest a peanut ball can help in shorter active labor. Though there needs appropriate study regarding this. A birthing ball has several benefits, however, you may wonder if sitting on a birth ball can induce labor too. There are some women who might go into labor in a sitting, rotating or bouncing position on a birthing ball. But there is no evidence that suggests that these balls can break your water or induce labor.
How Do You Choose A Birth Ball?
- It is important to choose the correct size birthing ball based on your height and size
- The right size of the birth ball will help you in getting the utmost comfort
- A birthing ball comes in various sizes, because one size can’t fit all
- These usually come in small, medium, or large
- You may find a birth ball that is made of non-slip material, fully inflated, or one that you can pump after purchase
- If you are using a birth ball for the first time, a non-slip material will help you retain your position.
Guidelines For Choosing The Right Size Exercise Birthing Ball
It is advised for you to be able to sit on a birthing ball with your feet planted flat on the floor. If you are somewhat on your tippy-toes while sitting, it means the birth ball is too large. If the knees are positioned higher than the stomach, then the ball is too small. You may even use the ball while lying or in a kneeling position.
In general birth ball sizes correspond to height:
- 55 cm, for 5 foot 4 inches or shorter
- 65 cm, for 5 foot 4 to 10 inches
- 75 cm, for 5-foot 10 inches or taller
Some manufacturers may recommend a different ball size based on your height and weight. Choosing the right size is important because sitting too high or too low on the ground could irritate your back and knees.
If you’re using a birthing ball for the first time while pregnant, do so with proper medical advice and the assistance of a partner to prevent slipping off accidentally.
Get Support During Pregnancy: How To Use A Birthing Ball?
Now that you are clear regarding the purchase of a birth ball, here are a few suggestions related to using the ball during pregnancy and labor. You must keep in mind, the ball can be used by a pregnant woman during pregnancy and post-delivery.
1. Exercises During Pregnancy
- Lower back pain is not limited to labor and delivery. Some pregnant women may experience pain during pregnancy, too. In that case, you can be sitting or leaning forward on a birthing ball while watching TV or at work. Being in an anterior position may relieve some of the pelvic pressure and your lower back. You can sit comfortably on the floor, with the support of the exercise ball.
- Sitting on the birthing ball is also a great form of exercise. It can help in strengthening the stomach and back muscles. You can even use a yoga ball to prepare for a particular birth position. When you sit on a ball, it can improve your posture, and prepare your body for delivery.
- Sitting in an upright position may change your baby from a posterior position to an anterior position too. This may also help to relieve back pain during pregnancy.
2. Exercises During Labor
- Getting into a good position during labor can be quite difficult. Yet, using the support of a birthing ball can help you in experimenting with different positions. It can help you ease pelvic or spinal pressure. The support of a ball in upright or forward positions can be helpful during contractions.
- You can sit on a birthing ball and from front to back or rock from side to side on the floor. Some pregnant women sit on a birthing ball while they lean forward on a table or bed. In such positions, the partner can massage their back.
- Getting into a kneeling position with the support of a birthing ball may take pressure off your hips, pelvis, and lower back. You can even place a pillow on the floor, and with the knees on the pillow, lean forward and hug the birthing ball.
- This position can be comfortable if you are nearing the due date or pushing stage and cannot sit due to pelvic pressure.
In case you are using a peanut ball, you can even use it to support the legs or body while you’re in the bed. There are several positions you may try to increase your comfort during labor.
3. Exercises After Giving Birth
After giving birth, it is quite natural to face pain or pressure in the area between your vagina and anus. Hence, sitting down can be pretty uncomfortable. You can slightly deflate your birthing ball to make it even softer and comfortable. In this way, you can sit on the ball while relaxing or watching TV, or while breastfeeding or rocking your fussy baby.
Birthing Ball Exercises: Exercises With A Birth Ball
You can try several exercises with a birth ball to strengthen your body and better your posture.
1. The Bouncing Exercise
For this exercise, you need to gently bounce on the birthing ball for a few minutes at a time. This can help you improve stability and balance as well as strengthen your legs.
2. Hula Hoop Exercise
Strengthen and tone the core with a birthing ball. Sit on a ball with your hands on your hips. Then keep rotating your hips in a circular motion as if you are hula hooping.
Lie comfortably on the floor on your back and the legs elevated and ankles resting on top of the birthing ball. Slowly raise the upper body until you are in a V-shape form. Keep the hips on the floor. Hold this position for 5 counts and slowly lower the upper body to the floor. Keep repeating for your preferred number of reps in order to strengthen your legs and tone your abdomen.
4. Overhead Ball Squat
Stand in the position of a traditional squat with the feet shoulder-width apart. Holding the birthing ball in front of the body. Bend the knees and squat, just like you are about to sit on an imaginary chair. As you squat, raise your birthing ball overhead. Hold this position for almost 5 counts and then get back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of reps to strengthen your arms, legs, abdomen, and thighs.
Birthing Balls Exercises Final Conclusion:
A birthing ball can help you provide a lot of comfort and relaxation before and during labor. It can help relieve back pain, decrease pelvic pressure, and even shorten labor. That one thing it cannot do, though, is inducing labor. And the best thing regarding a birthing ball is that you can use it even after birth to sit comfortably or get into shape.