I believe in the power of a birth ball so much that I actually gift one to every single client of mine. It’s amazing that for under $20 you can get so many benefits.
When used in pregnancy, birth balls:
- Help relieve low back pain and other discomforts of pregnancy
- Help strengthen core and hip muscles
- Help stretch hip and pelvic muscles
- Create better blood flow to our baby
When used in birth, birth balls:
- Provide comfort and encourages upright postures and rhythm
- Provide an alternative to lying flat in bed for fetal monitoring or many other procedures and routines
- Can be used in the shower as a comfort tool
When used in postpartum, birth balls:
- Soothe your baby. Babies love love love being held and bounced on these balls (it’s way easier than trying to rock them in your arms all day and night!).
- When combined with an infant carrier, bouncing on a ball can help keep baby napping longer while you bounce and also give you free use of your arms. I call this the money shot of parenting!
- Help you regain muscle tone when used for exercise or simply by sitting on it.
Which size to choose:
You can get a great birth ball for under $20 here: Buy on Amazon
5 Ways to Use Your Ball in Labor
It’s not rocket science. Just simply sit on your ball and circle your hips around in labor. It feels good and is a productive way to move your body so that labor progresses smoothly. When you sit on a birth ball you are utilizing the 2 most important principles for easier birth: gravity and movement. Try your best to keep doing hip circles on your ball during your contractions to really get things moving.
I’ll never forget this story I heard a few years back from a group of doulas who did work in a crowded hospital in Puerto Rico. In this hospital, women would be forced to labor in bed in an open room alongside a dozen or so other laboring women. They had practically no freedom of movement, and suffice to say, their intervention rates were high.
The doulas decided to implement just one small change to hospital procedure. Instead of women being confined to their beds, they gave them the option of sitting on a birth ball instead. The Cesarean rate immediately and drastically decreased!
It’s hard work giving birth. Sometimes you need a break, but it’s not always comfortable to rest on your back or side. Resting your upper body into a ball while on all fours is an extremely comfy position to use in labor. Plus it allows you to move those hips around if a tough contraction hits.
This is also a fantastic position to use for the second stage (pushing stage) of labor. (It’s how my second baby was born and it felt great compared to my first who was delivered in a sitting position).
Lean against a wall:
Whether you hug your ball and face the wall or lay your back on the ball against a wall, it just feels good to be upright and have that bouncy support to lean on. It is also nice to hug and squeeeeeeze your ball during tough contractions.
You can do lunges in labor and in pregnancy too. This can sometimes open the hips up and feel great on tight ligaments. Lunge on both sides and determine which side feels best (like there is more room there). Then just pick that side that felt best and lunge just towards that side.
Sit on your ball in the shower:
I kid you not I have seen this being done all the time in hospital births. The showers are generally just big enough for the ball to fit in, then the birthing mama can sit and bounce on her ball while the wonderful warm water runs over her body. Water is such a soothing tool to use during labor. It activates the “Gate control theory of pain,” which basically just means that when you flood the body with pleasurable sensations, the painful sensations are mitigated or lessened.
A birth tub works the same way but sometimes they are unavailable or sitting upright feels better for the birthing woman.
Birth Balls are my #1 Recommended Tool for pregnancy and birth. You can get a great birth ball for under $20 here: Buy on Amazon