Birth Ball for Labor
Using a birth ball during labor has many benefits that improve effacing and dilating and facilitate giving birth.
The big balls used for birthing are simply physiotherapy or exercise balls used while a woman is in labor.
However, the ball can also be used for comfort before labor, in preparation for giving birth and also post-partum.
- When a woman sits on an exercise ball the knees are apart with no muscle tension in the adductor muscles.
- Pressure on the whole sitting area is equalised.
- The pelvis is tilted forward.
- Pelvic tilting is facilitated in any direction.
- The muscles of the pelvic floor can easily be exercised.
- The ball encourages good posture and support for the lower back.
The ball is therefore very comfortable to sit on, in the final weeks of pregnancy, when the joints and ligaments of the pelvis become flexible and possibly achy.
Use it while sitting at your computer or anytime instead of a conventional chair.
Click here to read about pregnancy workouts using an exercise ball.
Besides this, the birth ball offers the following benefits during labor, all of which will make for an easier birth:
Benefits of a Using Birth Ball in Labour
- Enables a woman to maintain an upright position
- Gravity can help the baby's descent down the birth canal
- Enhances baby's alignment in the pelvis
- Encourages pelvic mobility
- Encourages pelvic relaxation by providing perineal support without pressure
- The pelvic inlet is tilted forward which encourages the baby into an optimal occipito-anterior position
- Encourages baby to rotate if necessary
- Allows pelvic rocking, rotation and other rythmic movement that may facilitate birthing
- Fetal monitor can be use with the birth ball without disturbing the mother
- Warm compresses can be applied to the perineum on the ball
- Can be used when a back rub or pressure is needed to comfort the mother
- Can be used for support while squatting
- For back labor, a woman can lean over the ball, allowing good pelvic mobility and the effect of gravity to help the baby rotate
- Allows freedom to shift weight for comfort
- May help speed up the progression of labor
- May be beneficial when there has been a prior failure to progress
- May help contractions to be less painful and more effective
- Psychologically the ball helps relieve tension as balls are associated with play
Post-partum the ball can also be used to sit on if a woman is recovering from a cesarean or episiotomy.
A mother can sit on the ball and rock the baby.
A fussy baby can be laid on her tummy on the ball and the pressure may help relieve the baby's discomfort.
The Right Size Ball for You
You can purchase an exercise ball at most sports stores.
Make sure you buy the correct size birth ball. When you sit on top of it, with feet flat on the floor, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle.
For an average woman with a height of about 5'5" a 65cm ball should be the correct size. The smaller 55cm size ball would suit a shorter person and if you are taller, there are larger sizes too.
Return to Top
Back to Pregnancy and Giving Birth Home Page