In this Article
- What Is a Birthing Ball?
- Benefits of Using a Birthing Ball
- Difference Between a Birthing Ball And a Gym Ball
- Which Birth Ball Should You Buy?
- Why Do You Need to Buy a Birthing Ball Cover?
- Which is the Right Size for a Pregnancy Ball?
- Tips for Using Maternity Ball for the First Time
- How to Use a Birthing Ball?
- Exercises to do with your Birth Ball
- Tips To Use Pregnancy Ball Safely
Wondering about effective ways of exercising and dealing with labour? Birthing balls are a boon for a mother-to-be. You may have seen these giant inflated balls in the gym, your yoga class or even during one of the antenatal visits, at your doctor’s clinic. A birthing ball is not only effective during the birthing process, but these vinyl balls may help you sail through your pregnancy also. We shall discuss how you may use a birthing ball efficiently and derive maximum benefits out of it.
What Is a Birthing Ball?
A birthing ball or a birth ball is a kind of an exercise ball that you may use during your pregnancy, labour and even after birth. These rubber balls can be used in many ways in pregnancy and later.
Benefits of Using a Birthing Ball
A birthing ball has many benefits and may help you in many ways in pregnancy; following are some of the benefits of using a birthing ball:
- It helps in easing your back pain and thus makes mobility easier during pregnancy
- It helps in increasing blood flow to your pelvic region (uterus and placenta)
- It helps in reducing spinal pressure
- It helps in giving counter-pressure to your thighs and perineum
- It helps in providing excellent support to your ankles and knees
- It helps you to be in an upright position and thus works efficiently with gravity for your baby’s descent
- It helps in opening up of your pelvic muscles
- It helps in right positioning of the baby, just before the birth
- It helps to reduce your labour hours
Some women may feel dizzy while using a birthing ball. If you feel any dizziness, refrain from using the birthing ball.
Difference Between a Birthing Ball And a Gym Ball
A birthing ball and a gym ball are more or less the same. Both these balls are made of an anti-burst material, which means on being punctured, they wouldn’t burst at one go but deflate slowly. Both these balls should be kept away from sharp objects, direct heat or rough surfaces. However, there are some differences:
- Gym balls are comparatively smaller than birthing balls.
- Most birthing balls come with an anti-slip finish.
Therefore, it is essential to buy a birthing ball that has an anti-slip finish, so that it does not slip when you sit on it or use it. Secondly, it should be of an apt size that is neither too small nor too big for you.
Which Birth Ball Should You Buy?
You should buy a birth ball according to your height, which means if you sit on the ball, your feet should touch the floor comfortably. It is also recommended to opt for an anti-slip finish and anti-burst feature. Make sure to buy a ball that can take your weight. Therefore, a birth ball that meets all these criteria should be purchased and you are good to go!
Why Do You Need to Buy a Birthing Ball Cover?
You need to buy birthing ball cover because of the following reasons:
- The cover makes it easier for you to carry the ball from one place to another.
- The cover helps to keep the ball clean.
- The cover helps to manage the ball effectively
- The cover makes the ball feel soft against the skin
- The cover makes the ball look pretty, and you can keep changing the covers for a new look.
Which is the Right Size for a Pregnancy Ball?
The right size of the ball for you can be determined based on your height. The following table helps you to ascertain, the right size of birthing ball for you:
|Your height||Recommended Ball size|
|Less than 5 feet 4 inches||55 centimetres|
|5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 10 inches||65 centimetres|
|5 feet 10 inches or taller||75 centimetres|
It is recommended to buy a good quality birthing ball or a birthing ball from a renowned brand. Most birthing balls are pressure-tested and will easily take weight up to 300 kilograms. It will be a good idea to buy a pump along with your birthing ball as most balls do not come with a pump. It is very common for the ball to lose some air over a period of usage, you may fill up the air as and when the need arises.
Tips for Using Maternity Ball for the First Time
If you are using maternity or birthing ball for the first time, following tips may prove to be useful for you:
- Place the ball on a rug or a carpet rather than placing it on the floor. Wear anti-skid shoes, or you can be barefoot. You may ask someone to help you to sit while supporting the ball from behind.
- Balance your body by placing your feet firmly on the ground and keeping them apart (almost 60-70 centimetres).
- Get into a comfortable position by placing your hands on your knees, and you may try rocking sideways or back and forth. Once you secure your position, you may try a little bounce.
- In case, you do not feel confident with the bouncing or rocking movement; you may place a chair close to you and take support from it.
- In case you wish to use the ball for exercise, make sure there is ample space in the room to place the ball. You should keep your movements slow and steady. You should stop in case you feel uncomfortable.
How to Use a Birthing Ball?
You can use your birthing ball in the following ways:
In Pregnancy :
Here are some of how you can use your birthing ball in pregnancy:
- You may use it to sit comfortably or to relax simply. Sitting on a ball is much more comfortable than sitting on chair, couch or sofa.
- You may use a birthing ball to do some exercises. You may rock gently sitting on the ball. You may move back and forth or sideways.
- You may use a birthing ball to change your baby’s position in the later months of pregnancy. In case your baby is in a posterior position, the forward leaning and upright positions may help your baby to change position
During Labour :
Birthing ball has many benefits during labour, such as:
- You may lean on the ball for support
- You may use it for sitting and rocking front or sideways
- You may use it for rocking and swaying rhythmically along with your contractions
- The ball can be used during the labour or at the delivery stage
- The upward curve of a birthing ball provides good support
- The curve puts gentle pressure on the engorged vagina during labour
- The ball provides good mobile support, especially to the upper body
It is very important that you are comfortable using a birthing ball, before using it for labour.
After Birth :
You can effectively use your birthing ball even after the birth of your baby in the following ways:
- It is more comfortable to sit on as compared to sitting on any hard surface, as you may feel sore for a few days after birth.
- It is very convenient and comfortable for breastfeeding your baby. You may even rock and soothe your crying baby, sitting on the ball.
- It is perfect for exercising and helps you tone up and lose your pregnancy fat.
- It can be used for sitting, even in your office. You may also help your baby stand, walk or scoot with your birthing ball.
Exercises to do with your Birth Ball
Your birth ball is extremely beneficial for exercising in pregnancy. You may also use birthing ball exercises to induce labour. Following are some of the exercises that you may do with your birth ball:
The Bouncing Exercise: Bouncing gently on a birth ball helps in strengthening your legs and your balancing ability. During labour, this exercise is useful in giving counter pressure.
The Pelvic tilt exercise: Place your birth ball against the wall and sit with your back touching the ball. By pulling your tummy in a little, gently curve your lower back and push it towards the ball. This is very good in strengthening your lower back and uterus.
The Hula Hoop Exercise: You need to sit firmly on the ball with your hands resting on your hips. You should make large circular movements with your hips, just like hula hoop dancers do.
The Resting Child’s Pose: You will be required to kneel in and bend towards the ball. Use the ball to support yourself.
Tips To Use Pregnancy Ball Safely
Following are some tips on how to use pregnancy ball or labour ball safely:
- Choosing a ball with a non-bursting feature is important. The non-bursting feature ensures that the ball does not burst suddenly.
- Make sure to buy the right size of ball for you (according to your height)
- Always move carefully on the ball
- Buy a ball that has a non-slippery or anti-skid surface
- Place your hands on the ball to keep it steady before sitting
- Keep a safe distance between your feet so that you do not slip
- It is better to sit barefoot on the ball or wear good anti-skid footwear, to avoid slipping
- Never hold your breath sitting on the ball. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- It is recommended to use pregnancy ball in supervision for the first few times before you get a good hang of birthing ball positions.
A birthing ball is a great way of staying fit in pregnancy, easing out your labour woes and has ample benefits even after your baby is born. It is recommended to master the technique of using a birthing ball before using it for labour. It is also advised to be cautious at all times while using a birth ball, to avoid accidents or mishaps. Happy rolling ladies!