Do Birthing Balls Actually Work?
With the prominence of social media, women sharing their birthing stories has led to hands on, first person advice about pregnancy, labour and birth. One of the reoccuring pieces of is the use of exercise balls, not just during the gestation period but also as an aid to labour. But let's start with the basics:
What is a birthing ball?
A birthing ball, also known as an exercise ball, birth ball, or pregnancy ball, is a large inflatable ball typically used by pregnant women during labor, childbirth, and throughout pregnancy for exercise and relaxation. It is designed to provide support, comfort, and stability during various stages of pregnancy and childbirth.
Birthing balls come in different sizes, but the most common size is about 65-75 centimeters (25-30 inches) in diameter. They are made of sturdy, anti-burst material to ensure safety during use. The ball's size allows a woman to sit or lean on it comfortably, providing relief from the pressure and discomfort associated with pregnancy, such as back pain and pelvic discomfort.
Are birthing balls and exercise balls the same?
Yes, birthing balls and exercise balls are the same thing. You can get a number of different accessories to make your exercise ball more pregnancy friendly such as a stability ring.
How do Birthing Balls work?
Birthing balls have a number of benefits throughout the pregnancy but the benefits that are specifically linking to birthing are as follows:
Physical Support: The birthing ball offers a comfortable and stable surface for pregnant women to sit or lean on during pregnancy and labor. It provides a cushioning effect, reducing the pressure on the lower back, pelvis, and hips. Sitting on the ball helps maintain an upright posture, which can alleviate discomfort and encourage optimal positioning of the baby.
Pelvic Mobility: Using a birthing ball promotes pelvic mobility and helps loosen the pelvic joints. Gentle movements, such as rocking, bouncing, or swaying on the ball, can encourage the baby to descend into the birth canal and assist with the progression of labour.
Pain Relief: The rhythmic bouncing or rocking motion on the ball can provide pain relief during labour. It stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving hormones. Additionally, the ball's soft surface may be more comfortable for labouring women than a traditional chair or bed.
Opening the Pelvic Outlet: Sitting on a birthing ball widens the pelvic outlet, making more room for the baby to descend and move through the birth canal. This can potentially help facilitate a smoother and faster labour.
Labour Positions: The ball allows for various labour positions that can aid in labour progress and comfort. Women can lean forward on the ball, supporting their upper body with their hands or elbows while keeping their knees on the ground. This position can help reduce back pain and encourage the baby's rotation. Other positions include sitting on the ball while facing backward or sideways, providing flexibility and options for finding the most comfortable position during labour.
In a recent Reddit post, women who had been through gestation and birth shared their experiences with using exercise/birthing balls. They were all overwhelming positive to the use.
To conclude, birthing balls are considered a versatile and helpful tool for expectant mothers. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a childbirth professional to understand the proper use and techniques for incorporating the birthing ball into a pregnancy or labour plan.