In all stages of pregnancy, and even after, women seek optimal comfort and relief. A pregnancy ball is widely used for relieving pain, positioning the baby, and aiding in labor. Whether you're currently pregnant or preparing for that journey, a pregnancy or birthing ball is a great tool to have on hand.
What is a birthing ball?
Also known as a birthing ball, a pregnancy ball is a round, durable, inflatable ball that comes with an antislip finish and is larger than exercise balls, allowing them to support a mother throughout her pregnancy journey.
Although most birthing balls used throughout pregnancy are round in shape, there is another variation of this ball called the Peanut Ball. The Peanut Ball is wider on the ends and tapers in the middle. This variation is typically used to help progress in labor, as its peanut-like shape allows the ball to be placed between the legs to encourage cervix dilation.
Keep reading to learn more about when to use your birthing ball, how to use it, and its benefits.
When Should You Use a Birthing Ball?
Although it is often referred to as a birth ball, pregnancy balls can be used before and even after giving birth. This versatile tool provides benefits in all stages of pregnancy, depending on how it is used. Whatever stage you're in, you should consider using a pregnancy ball to help you maintain comfort.
Using a pregnancy ball during your pregnancy. As your body begins to go through the necessary changes to support the growth of your baby, your body will most likely feel the aches, pains, and discomfort that come with these changes. Since most of the pressure from the baby will be sitting on your hips and lower back, these bouncy balls are great for relieving that pressure. A lot of lower back pain can come from your baby being in a posterior position, and the pregnancy ball can be used to encourage the baby to take on an anterior positioning. Starting at 32 weeks, the birthing ball can also be used to perform exercises that help your prepare for labor by strengthening your pelvic floor, stomach, and back.
Using a pregnancy ball during labor. Labor occurs in three stages: early labor, active labor, and transitional labor. The length of each stage varies depending on the mother, however, it is often quite uncomfortable throughout. Finding ways to relax and ease any pain or discomfort is crucial for getting through these stages. A pregnancy ball can be used during labor as a way to relieve pressure, quicken the dilation process, and take on different positions that might be more comfortable.
Using a pregnancy ball during postpartum. Unfortunately for most, the discomfort does not end after giving birth. You may experience pain while sitting, especially after giving birth vaginally. In this case, you have the option to slightly deflate the ball and utilize it as a softer area to sit. In the same way that the birthing ball was used to prepare for labor, it can also be used to perform exercises to heal and strengthen your body afterward. However, it is important to consult your doctor before performing any physical exercises.
What Are Some Pregnancy Ball Exercises?
There are several ways to use your pregnancy ball. Its anti-slip, durable features make it easy for mothers to test its versatility and make it useful for all body types. Each stage of pregnancy comes with its discomforts, and knowing the different ways to utilize a birthing ball will ensure that you reap the most benefits.
Stretching. Stretching on a pregnancy ball is a great way to relieve pain, stress, and discomfort. A common stretch involves kneeling on the floor then placing your arms on the ball and pushing your hips back and down toward the floor. This stretch allows for pressure to be taken off of the back and hips, allowing for a deep stretch of your stomach and back muscles. This can be coupled with a swaying motion during labor to promote stress and pain relief.
Bouncing and rolling. Bouncing on your ball in circles with your legs wide open allows your pelvis to remain open and engaged, which is vital during labor when it comes to bringing your baby down and out. Similarly, pelvic tilts are an effective way to encourage dilation and keep your pelvis open.
Sitting. Sitting on your pregnancy ball during the postpartum period can ease after-birth pains. After a vaginal delivery, it is common to feel a certain level of discomfort in the area between your vagina and anus. This can make it difficult to sit down in regular chairs and firm furniture. Deflating your ball by a small amount allows for a softer, more moldable sitting area that can ease the pain of sitting down during your healing period.
Can a Pregnancy Ball Induce Labor?
A big reason why mothers utilize pregnancy balls is due to the idea that bouncing on one can help induce labor when a mother is close to her due date. However, there are currently no scientific studies that reveal that this is the case. That is not to say that a pregnancy ball does not help with pregnancy and labor altogether. Instead, it comes with its own set of benefits that can help make the process of bringing your baby into the world easier and more comfortable.
Is a Pregnancy Ball Right for Me?
A pregnancy ball may not be a requirement when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum care. However, many mothers have benefited greatly from using a birthing ball in all stages of their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum periods. Whether you're looking for pain relief, help throughout labor, or comfort during your postpartum journey, a pregnancy ball is a great tool to consider. Before partaking in any exercises, stretches, or other activities with your birthing ball, be sure to consult a doctor to make sure that it is safe for you.