Using a Birth Ball in Pregnancy and Childbirth

A birth ball offers uses for pregnancy and newborn days

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A birth ball is an extremely useful tool for pregnancy as well as during labor and birth. After the baby arrives, the entire family can find it helpful when transitioning to life with a newborn. There is nothing special about a birth ball, it is just your everyday exercise or yoga ball repurposed to use during your childbearing year. You can find them online or at many sporting good stores and other local retailers.

Choosing the right size ball

Exercise balls typically come in three different sizes; 55cm, 65 cm, and 75cm. The measurement indicates the circumference of the ball when fully inflated. You will want to choose a birth ball that is the right size for your height. For the woman of average height, a 65cm ball will be more than adequate. When seated on a fully inflated ball, you want your hips to be slightly higher than your knees. Inflate the ball till it is firm to the touch. You want it to offer a fair bit of resistance when you sit, but not be hard like a rock. Once it is blown up, you can adjust the firmness by adding or taking away a little bit of air until you are comfortable. Consider purchasing a burst resistant ball for an extra measure of safety.

Using the ball during pregnancy

Sitting on the ball from time to time during your pregnancy can help you get acclimated to the behavior and feel of the ball, especially if you practice before you are fully into your third trimester and feeling rather round yourself. Be cautious about getting up and down onto the ball, and ask for assistance if you think it will help.

Balancing on a birth ball can help strengthen your core, lower back, and abdominal muscles. All importance body parts called into action when you will be birthing. When sitting on the ball, practicing making figure eights with your hips or moving the ball in slow circles. You can also rock from side to side or forward and back, or even bounce in a gentle rhythm. All of these motions are changing the shape of your pelvis, and at the end of pregnancy, helping your baby to find a great position for labor and birth. If you work at a desk job, you might consider swapping out your regular office chair for a ball for the added benefit of getting practice time in while working. Regular use of your ball throughout your pregnancy allows you to feel comfortable using it when your birthday arrives.

The birth ball as a labor and birth tool

When you go into labor, you may want to consider using your birth ball to help you feel comfortable through the contractions. Many women find it soothing to rock or bounce gently to help reduce pain in labor. Using the ball can also help the baby into the ideal position, keep your pelvis open and let gravity assist in your labor by keeping you upright. The same rocking, rolling and circling that you practiced during pregnancy will now help promote your labor. You can also use the ball in the shower as a place to sit while the water beats down on you, helping to ease your discomfort.

Another option is using the birth ball for support while leaning over the bed onto the ball, or when you are on your hands and knees. Having the ball helps you to gently move during contractions and takes extra pressure off your arms, wrists and hands when leaning forward.

Many of the same positions that helped through the labor will be useful for your pushing phase. Pushing your baby out can take a few hours, and including the ball in the many position changes that you make during pushing can help facilitate the birth.

A partner can also sit on the ball to rest, while continuing to be near you offering support and comfort. When using the ball during labor, in the hospital or at a birthing center or home, it is good practice to toss a sheet or towel on the ball before using it, so that it stays clean against your skin.

Soothing your baby with the ball at home

Once you are home and have your new baby in your arms, you quickly learn how much those newborns like to be rocked, bounced and soothed. They want to be held for much of the time. While this is developmentally normal for a new baby, it can get tiring for the parents or other caregivers who might be helping you out. Consider wearing your baby in a baby carrier and sitting on the ball to offer the comforting bouncing sensation the baby likes, while conserving the adult’s energy. You will find that a few minutes in your arms or in a carrier, while you rock and bounce on the ball, can calm even the fussiest baby. You might find that you want to keep a few around, spread throughout the house, for easy access.

When you find yourself pregnant, consider adding a birth/exercise ball to your household, and use it regularly. You will be more comfortable, build strength, promote labor and soothe your newborn all with the same inexpensive but valuable tool. Have you used a birth ball during your pregnancy or birth? Does your newborn love when you hold him on it? Share what worked for you and baby, along with other tips that will be useful for other moms.

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