If you are wondering about effective ways of exercising and dealing with labor, you would be glad to know that birthing balls are a boon for a mother-to-be. You might have seen these hugeaerated balls in the gym, yoga class or even in 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 tell you how to use a birthing ball efficiently and derive maximum benefits out of it.
How and Why Should You Use a Birth Ball?
What Is a Birthing Ball?
A birthing ball or a birth ball is an exercise ball that can be used during pregnancy, labor, and even after birth. These rubber balls can be used in many ways during and after pregnancy.
Benefits of Using a Birthing Ball
A birthing ball has several benefits and may help you in many ways during pregnancy. Here are some of them:
1. It helps in easing your back pain making mobility easier during pregnancy.
2. It helps in increasing blood flow to your pelvic region (uterus and placenta).
3. It helps in reducing spinal pressure.
4. It helps in giving counter-pressure to your thighs and perineum.
5. It helps in providing excellent support to your ankles and knees.
6. It helps you to be in an upright position and thus works efficiently with gravity for your baby’s descent.
7. It helps in opening the pelvic muscles.
In case you feel dizzy while using a birthing ball, refrain from using it.
A Birthing Ball and A Gym Ball
A birthing ball and a gym ball are more or less the same. Both the balls are made of an anti-burst material. They should be kept away from sharp objects, direct heat or rough surfaces. The only differences they have are:
- Birthing balls are comparatively bigger than Gym balls.
- Birthing balls usually come with an anti-slip finish.
- Some birthing balls are round while some peanut-shapedfor using it conveniently while lying down in the bed.
Which Birth Ball Should You Buy?
You should buy a birth ball according to your height and weight, so that your feet touch the floor comfortably. When you do select one, you can opt for the one that has anti-slip finish and anti-burst features. A birth ball having all these features is a good purchase to ease pregnancy, labor, and childbirth.
How to Choose the Size of the Pregnancy Ball?
An appropriate size of the ball can be determined based on your height. The following table would also help you find 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 suggested to buy a good quality birthing ball from a renowned brand. Usually these balls are pressure-tested and will easily take weight up to 300 kilograms. However, it is a good idea to buy a pump along with your birthing ball as it is common for the ball to lose some air when used regularly.
How to Use a Birthing Ball for the First Time
The following tips may prove to be useful for you if you’re using it for the first time:
Place the ball on a rug or a carpet rather than placing it on the floor. You can use it barefooted or wear anti-skid shoes or ask someone to support the ball from behind while you sit on it.
Balance your body by placing your feet securely on the ground and keeping them apart.
Sit in a comfortable position on the ball by placing your hands on your knees. Try rocking sideways or back and forth or bounce gently.
Use a chair for support if you do not feel confident with the bouncing or rocking movement,
Make sure you have ample space in the room to place the ball. Keep your movements slow and steady.
Uses of Birthing Ball
You can use your birthing ball during pregnant, inlabor, and after childbirth. Here are some of its uses:
1. During Pregnancy
A birthing ball can be used during pregnancy to make the pelvis, the lower back and the leg muscles stronger. A gentle rocking or moving back and forth or sideways exercise will prepare you well for childbirth too. You can also sit comfortably or relax on the ball, instead of using a chair, couch or sofa. By the forward-leaning and upright positions you can change the position of your baby if your baby is in a posterior position.
2. During Labour
It comes in handy during labor too. You can lean on the ball for support, or sit on it and rocking front or sideways while experiencing the contractions. The curve of the ball is very supportive and provides gentle pressure on the engorged vagina during labor.
3. After Childbirth
After childbirth, a birthing ball can be useful for sitting as it provides a comfortable shape and easy to sit on as compared to hard surfaces. Once you are able to balance your weight, it can be very convenient and comfortable for breastfeeding your baby, too. You can even rock and soothe your crying baby, sitting on the ball. It is the best for exercising and helps you tone up and lose your pregnancy fat. It can be used for sitting, even while working in the office.
Exercises to Do With a Birthing Ball
A birthing ball is extremely helpful for exercising during pregnancy. It is also used to induce labor. Following are some exercises that you can do with a birthing ball:
1. The Bouncing Exercise
Bouncing gently on a birthing ball helps in making your legs stronger and improving your balancing ability. During labor, this exercise is useful in giving counter pressure.
2. The Pelvic Tilt Exercise
Sit with your back touching the ball, placed against the wall. Gently curve your lower back by pulling your tummy in a little, and push it towards the ball. This is a great way to strengthen your lower back and uterus.
3. The Hula Hoop Exercise
Sit firmly on the ball with your hands resting on your hips. Make big circular movements with your hips, just like hula hoop dancers. This is a good exercise for your pelvic floor and thighs.
4. The Resting Child’s Pose
Kneel on the ground with the ball held in both your hands in front and slowly roll the ball forward and by using the ball as the support bend as much as possible. This pose makes the lower back, the arms, the shins, and the calf muscles stronger.
5. Ball Lift
This exercise can tone your arms and stretch your spine. Hold the ball in both your hands while standing with your feet apart. Lift the ball over your head slowly by stretching the hands. Then, lower your hands slowly and bring in the front. Repeat this by making sure your back is straight, and feet are firm on the ground.
Tips to Use a Birthing Ball Safely
Following are some tips on how to use birthing ball safely:
- Ensure to buy the right size of the ball for you (according to your height).
- Always move carefully on the ball.
- Buy a non-slippery or anti-skid surfaced ball.
- Keep the ball steady before sitting by placing your hands on it.
- Keep a safe distance between your feet to maintain a balance.
- Sit barefooted on the ball or wear good anti-skid footwear to avoid slipping.
- Do not hold your breath sitting on the ball. Inhale and exhale through your nose and mouth respectively.
- 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 an efficient way of staying fit during pregnancy. It can ease out your labor woes and has several benefits even after your baby is born. However, it is advised to learn the technique of using a birthing ball before using it for labor. It is also suggested to be cautious at all times while using a birthing ball, to prevent accidents or mishaps.
Published on: 19th July 2021