Pregnancy Savior: The Birthing Ball

There’s a long list of things people tell you to buy to help make your pregnancy be a comfortable one.  Some you may find extremely useful, others, well- they’re more of a “fun purchase”.

When it comes to the items that I, personally, found helped me stay comfortable during my pregnancy (so far), the list includes TUMS, a body pillow and now, a Birthing/Exercise Ball.  Luckily, my parents had a gym ball that I was able to take to see if it would help and I must say- it has and I now don’t know what I would do without it.  I am actually typing this while sitting on my ball.  Thanks to Baby Center, I got more information on how to maximize the benefits of using the ball and what those benefits are.

Birthing Ball

What are the benefits of using a birthing ball?

Exercising on a birthing ball in pregnancy can help to reduce any back pain you are experiencing and make it easier for you to move around. It can also help ease labour pain, reduce the pain of contractions (especially if you use it for a couple of months before you give birth), decrease anxiety and shorten the first stage of labour. However if you feel dizzy or ill, don’t use your ball.

Using a birthing ball can also help you adopt different upright positions, which can help you to labour effectively. It may even shorten your labour by an hour or so.


How can I use my birthing ball during pregnancy?

You can use your birthing ball to:

Sit comfortably while you’re working or relaxing
You may find your ball much more comfortable, and easier to get on and off, than a hard chair or soft sofa.

Also, sitting on a birthing ball gives you a mini-workout. As you rock or bounce on it gently, your tummy and back muscles will be working hard to keep you upright.

Get some gentle exercise
Using your birthing ball is a fun way to improve your posture and balance, and to exercise your tummy muscles. This helps your body to support the weight of your pregnancy. It can also protect your back, and help you get back into shape after you’ve given birth. Try:

Sitting on the ball and rocking your pelvis from side to side and front to back. When you do this, try to keep your shoulders still so the movement comes from your waist and below.
Rotating your hips clockwise then anti-clockwise.
Leaning over your ball from a kneeling position, then rocking your hips forward and back.

You may also want to try exercising your pelvic floor while sitting on your birthing ball. It can be easier to feel what is happening and you’ll also be working your lower tummy muscles at the same time.

Help change the position of your baby in late pregnancy
If your baby is in a posterior (back-to-back) position, adopting upright, forward-leaning positions may encourage him to switch around.

Try getting on to your knees and leaning forward over your ball. This may encourage your baby’s back to swing forward so he’s in an anterior position, with his back towards your bump. Although your baby may not stay that way until you go into labour, it may give you some temporary relief from backache.

Practise positions for labour
If you try out different positions for labour while you’re still pregnant, you’ll know how they feel and discover which ones are more comfortable for you.

How can I use my birthing ball during labour?
It’s best to practice using the ball before you go into labour so you feel comfortable and safe using it.

Some midwives recommend a combination of birthing ball and TENS to help women cope at home in early labour.

You may find you instinctively sway and rock in rhythm with your contractions, and a birthing ball gives great support for this.

Ways to use your birth ball during labour include:

Sitting astride the ball and rocking your pelvis from side to side or back and forth.

Leaning on your birthing ball from a kneeling position on the floor.

Getting into a hands-and-knees position by hugging your birthing ball and lifting your bottom up from a kneeling position. You can then rock your pelvis from side to side.

Leaning over your ball from a standing position, with the ball on the bed or another surface.

All these techniques can be used during first-stage labour.

These positions also give your birth partner plenty of room to support you, massage you or apply pressure to your lower back during contractions.

During the pushing stage you’ll want to avoid sitting, so use the leaning or hands-and-knees positions. They will take the pressure off your bottom and give your baby lots of room to descend with each contraction and to be born.

Most hospital labour wards and birth centres have birthing balls for women to use during labour. If you’re particularly attached to your own birthing ball, take it along with you. You can clean it afterwards by washing it down with warm soapy water.

How can I use my birthing ball after my baby is born?

You may find your ball more comfortable to sit on than a hard chair, particularly if the area between your vagina and anus (perineum) is sore. Deflate it a little to make it softer and take the pressure off any stitches or bruising.

You could sit on your ball while you’re breastfeeding once you’ve got the hang of getting your baby latched on. It’s likely to be better for your posture than slumping on the sofa while feeding. Make sure you feel comfortable and steady on the ball before you try this though. Bouncing on your ball while cuddling your baby may soothe her.

You can use your birthing ball to exercise, using the same techniques described above in How can I use my birthing ball during pregnancy?

As your baby grows up, your birthing ball may become a favourite plaything. You may even want to use your ball instead of an office chair for desk work, as it’s so great for posture.

In short, you may find that your birthing ball becomes the best value-for-money bit of pregnancy kit you buy!

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So not only is is great for helping with back pain and other pain related to pregnancy, but it also helps during labour and after!  Since I have only been using it for a couple of days (and already feel a difference in the intensity of my back pain), I am really looking forward to seeing how it will help me even more later on.  I have been more and more sore in the area where the leg joint meets the torso and I will see if the using the ball will somehow help.  For now, I have to remember how tender that area is and to take it slowly while getting off of the ball.  From what I have read online, it sounds like SPD but I will bring it up at my next appointment to see what my Doctor says.

Liam, while it is good for inducing labour do NOT think this is me telling you to come say hi early- wait for a few more months please 😉


Have you used birthing balls in previous pregnancies or are you using one now?  Let me know!  I would love to hear about how it helped you!  Comment below or find me on Facebook/Instagram.


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