Birthing balls can be a saviour not just during birth but also during the pre and postnatal period. They can help with postural alignment, ease pain in labour and help to soothe your baby postnatally. Read on to learn more!
Important: While it doesn’t matter so much whether you choose a gym ball or a birthing ball, some birthing balls have a non-slip finish which will ensure that are more stable on the floor. Make sure the ball is described as anti-burst and that you are buying the correct size ball for your height so that your knees remain below your hips as follows:
- Your height 4’8″ to 5’3″ = 55cm ball
- Your height 5’4″ to 5’10″ = 65cm ball
- Your height 5’11″ to 6’4″ = 75cm ball
1. During Pregnancy
Birthing balls can be used during pregnancy as a more comfortable alternative to sitting on a chair – if you work from home you could arrange your desk to work on the ball or relax on your ball in the evenings. They can reduce back pain and may be easier to get on and off than a standard chair. Furthermore they help to keep your spine and pelvis aligned which we know can help baby into their optimal position.
You can also sit on the ball to practice basic seated yoga movements. As the ball is not stable it means you have to subconsciously use your internal abdominal and back muscles to keep you stable to you get an extra bit of strength work with it!
2. During Birth
So many benefits to using the birthing ball during labour, whether seated or as a support for all 4s position the movement of the ball can help you move intuitively through the sensations of your contractions. The birthing ball encourages upright, forward and open birthing positions which we know can shorten the first stage of labour.
(Images courtesy of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)
I’m not sure there is evidence to support this but I know from my own experience and those of close family and friends that babies love the birthing ball – if you have used the ball consistently in the final months of pregnancy I think they remember the gentle bouncing movement – it was certainly the case with my daughter and nephew that sometimes the only thing that would soothe them was a little cuddle and a bounce on the ball! And the benefits for you of helping with alignment, posture and exercise postnatally remain – it’s good to start gently with your postnatal recovery and the birthing ball can help with that.
More top tips for purchasing your birthing ball
- Buy one with a pump unless you know you have one that fits
- If you have any latex allergies double check the ball is not made with latex
- Remember to keep the ball pumped up so it remains at the correct height for sitting comfortably with your knees below your hips