Using a Birthing Ball – Benefits, Exercises & Tips
- 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?
- How to Choose the Size of the Pregnancy Ball?
- How to Use a Birthing Ball for the First Time
- Uses of Birthing Ball
- Exercises to Do With a Birthing Ball
- Tips to Use a Birthing Ball Safely
If you are wondering about effective ways of exercising and dealing with labour, you would be glad to know that 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. In this article, we will discuss how you can use a birthing ball efficiently and derive maximum benefits out of it. Let’s begin with understanding what a birthing ball is and what its benefits are.
What Is a Birthing Ball?
A birthing ball or a birth ball is a kind of an exercise ball that can be used during pregnancy, labour, and even after birth. These rubber balls can be used in many ways in pregnancy and later, too.
Benefits of Using a Birthing Ball
A birthing ball has many benefits and may help you in several ways during pregnancy. Here are some of them:
- 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 the pelvic muscles.
Some women may feel dizzy while using a birthing ball. If you feel any dizziness, refrain from using it.
Let’s get to know a little more about birthing balls.
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. The only features that differentiate a birthing ball from a gym ball are –
- Gym balls are comparatively smaller than birthing balls.
- Most birthing balls come with an anti-slip finish.
- Some birthing balls are round while some are the shape of a peanut to allow using it while lying down in the bed.
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. We shall talk a little more in details about the size of the ball shortly. When you do select one, you can opt for the one that has anti-slip finish and anti-burst features. Also, make sure you buy a ball that can take your weight. A birth ball that meets all these criteria is a good purchase to ease pregnancy, labour, and childbirth.
Birthing balls covers are also readily available in the market. If the store owner happened to offer you one, do consider buying it for the reasons given below.
Why Do You Need to Buy a Birthing Ball Cover?
You need to buy a 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 if you get bored with it.
How to Choose the Size of the Pregnancy Ball?
As mentioned earlier, an appropriate size of the ball for you can be determined based on your height. The following table would also help you ascertain the right size of the 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 balls are pressure-tested and will easily take weight up to 300 kilograms.
It is a good idea to buy a pump along with your birthing ball as most balls do not come with one. It is very common for the ball to lose some air when used regularly. With a pump, you may fill up the air as and when the need arises.
The next question many expectant mothers have is how to use the birthing ball. Well, most of the times, you would buy a birthing ball only after an expert advise you to. The expert would also then guide you through and teach you the best and the safest ways for you to use the ball. Nonetheless, here are some ways for you to be prepared to use the ball for the first time.
How to Use a Birthing Ball for the First Time
If you are using maternity or birthing ball for the first time, the 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. You can be barefoot or use anti-skid shoes. 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 as you sit on the ball by placing your hands on your knees. You may try rocking sideways or back and forth. Once you secure your position, you may try to bounce gently.
- In case, you do not feel confident with the bouncing or rocking movement; you may place a chair close to you and use it as support.
- 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 when you feel uncomfortable.
You already know that the birthing ball can be used at any stage of pregnancy and after childbirth if it is advised by an expert. But, what are its uses? Let’s find out!
Uses of Birthing Ball
You can use your birthing ball during pregnant, when in labour, and after childbirth, too. Read on to know its uses.
1. During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a birthing ball can be used to strengthen the pelvis, the lower back and the leg muscles. If exercising is not always possible, you can comfortably sit or relax on the ball, rather than using a chair, couch or sofa. A gentle rocking exercise will prepare you well for childbirth too. You may move back and forth or sideways. In the later months of pregnancy, you may use the birthing ball to change your baby’s position, too. In case your baby is in a posterior position, the forward-leaning and upright positions may help your baby to change position.
2. During Labour
Similarly, the birthing ball can come in handy during labour too. You may lean on the ball for support, or sit on it and rocking front or sideways as you experience the contractions. The curve of the birthing ball provides good support and puts gentle pressure on the engorged vagina during labour. The ball also provides good mobile support, especially to the upper body. Having said that, it is very important that you are comfortable using a birthing ball, before using it for labour.
3. After Childbirth
After childbirth, a birthing ball can be useful for sitting as it provides a comfortable shape and fee to sit on as compared to sitting on a hard surface due to the soreness that remains for a few days after childbirth. Once you get the hang of the ball and can balance your weight, it can be very convenient and comfortable for breastfeeding your baby, too. 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 the office. When your child grows, you may also help your baby stand, walk or scoot with your birthing ball.
We mentioned exercising using the birthing ball in the article above a couple of times. But, swaying and rocking is not the only exercises that can be done on it. Read on to know some more ways you can exercise on the birthing ball.
Exercises to Do With a Birthing Ball
A birthing 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 birthing ball:
1. The Bouncing Exercise
Bouncing gently on a birthing ball helps in strengthening your legs and your balancing ability. During labour, this exercise is useful in giving counter pressure.
2. 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 a good way to strengthening your lower back and uterus.
3. 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. This is a great exercise for your pelvic floor and your thighs.
4. The Resting Child’s Pose
You will be required to kneel on the ground with the ball held in front with both your hands. Then, slowly roll the ball forward and bend as much as possible using the ball as the support. This pose strengthens the lower back, the arms, the shins, and the calf muscles.
5. Ball Lift
This is a great exercise to tone your arms and stretch the spine a bit. Stand with your feet apart, holding the ball in both your hands. Stretch the hands and slowly lift the ball over your head. Then, slowly lower your hands and bring in the front. Do this a couple of times ensuring our back is straight, and your feet are firm on the ground.
Note: If you want to practice these exercises, you must first learn them from a specialist and make sure you do them under supervision. Ask your husband or caregivers to support you while you do them.
If you are concerned about using a birthing ball, you must consult a specialist who can help you through. Here are some more tips that will come in handy while using a birthing ball.
Tips to Use a Birthing 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 the 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 go off balance or 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 the birthing ball in supervision for the first few times before you get a good hang of the ball.
A birthing ball is a great way of staying fit during pregnancy. It can ease out your labour woes and has ample benefits even after your baby is born. However, 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 birthing ball, to avoid accidents or mishaps. The best way to do that is to have someone with you to support you or the ball every time you use it.