Pregnancy balls: what are they and how can you use them?

Heard buzz about pregnancy balls but not sure if they're right for you? We'll walk you through why and how to use it in detail. Birth balls are a great addition to your pregnancy kit.

It can help you relieve pain and discomfort during pregnancy, labor and even the postpartum phase. They can also be a great addition to your pregnancy exercise program.

You may have heard it called a pregnancy ball, birth ball, or birth ball.

Sound like what you're looking for? let's start.

So what exactly is a Pregnancy ball?

Birth balls are round or peanut-shaped. Both shapes help keep the pelvis open and flexible, and provide support when you need it.

The most popular round birthing balls are made of soft plastic vinyl and are specifically designed not to slide or pop. The round ones look like the big exercise balls you'd find in a yoga or Pilates studio. One of the great things about a round yoga ball is that it helps you maintain an upright position during labor.

Studies show this can significantly reduce pain and even help your baby get into a better birthing position, which means they get out sooner.

Do Pregnancy balls work?

During pregnancy and labor, many times a birthing ball is just what you need.

Pregnancy period

A key reason for using a birth ball during pregnancy is to help reduce lower back pain -- which occurs in about 70 percent of pregnancies.

In this study of women who were 20 to 22 weeks pregnant, a 12-week stability ball exercise program helped reduce back pain and improve health.

So does that mean you have to be on an exercise program to reap the full benefits? No! Simply sitting on your ball is also very beneficial.

Finding a comfortable seat can become more of a challenge as your belly grows. Sitting on a birthing ball instead of a chair can help you find a comfortable position and make it easier to get up and down.

During childbirth

Birth balls can have a positive impact on labor, from the first contraction to the last exertion.

Research shows that birthing balls can help labor progress, manage pain and anxiety, and improve the labor experience. In addition, birth balls may also prevent emergency C-sections (although this study is less certain).

In the postpartum stage

Here's one surprising thing your newborn might love: bouncing gently on the birthing ball. Hold them close or wear them in a harness, make sure their head is well supported, and gently bounce while sitting on the ball to help calm them down and even encourage them to fall asleep.

In the early postpartum period, sometimes called the third trimester, your pregnancy ball is also a great way to gently stretch your muscles and help support your body as you recover.

When should you start using a birthing ball?

You can start using the birthing ball as soon as you find out you are pregnant, even during the TTC (Trying to Conceive).

If you're looking to use a ball for lower back pain relief, you'll probably want to start using it sometime between the fifth and seventh month.

But back pain can also start before that, so do what's best for you.

You can also start using the ball in the third trimester to gently warm up for labor. Starting early can help you find a favorite position and can also encourage your baby to get into the good positions for labor to start.

Birth Ball Exercises During Pregnancy

While using a birth ball during pregnancy is considered safe, it's always important to consult your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

They may have specific considerations that apply to your particular situation.

Always be aware of your body and how you feel. If it hurts, stop.

Also, in order not to slip around, it is best to use the ball on a carpeted floor. Avoid wearing socks if possible.

When choosing a ball, consider your height. If you are taller than 5'9", choose a larger ball measuring approximately 75cm.

Here are some poses to try

Sitting Easy: Sit on a ball with feet hip-width apart and knees lower than hips. There you have it - your new chair!

Swing: Sit on your ball and move your hips side to side to increase flexibility.
Infinity: Sit on your ball and move your hips in an infinity or figure-of-eight pattern.

Circle and circle: Sit on the ball and move your hips in a circular motion. Try clockwise, then counterclockwise.

Bow to the ball: Kneel on the ground and let the ball be in front of you. Keep your knees apart and lean your arms forward, resting your head on the ball. Now, gently rock your lower body back and forth.

Lifts: Sit on your ball, raise your arms, then lower them. Then lift one leg at a time, hold, and release. switch sides.

Squat! Stand up straight and rotate your feet out to the sides. Place your hands on the ball for balance. After maintaining your balance, squat down with your back straight. You can also try wall squats with the ball against the wall. Spread your legs and squat down slowly.

Pregnancy ball position during labor

If you're sitting on your round birthing ball, it helps keep your body relaxed by moving your hips back and forth, side to side. You can also lean on the ball from a kneeling or standing position. If you choose standing, place your ball on the higher ground. You can also choose to put the ball on the bed and lean on it.