What is a birthing ball?
If you’ve been to the gym, you’ve probably seen those giant exercise balls you roll yourself up and down a wall with or balance on while doing crunches. Or if you’ve had the misfortune of injuring yourself and have needed physical therapy, you’ve seen balls people balance on to help strengthen injured muscles. Well, that’s what a birthing ball looks like. They may seem weird, but I know a lot of women who swear by them!
Birthing balls can be used in several different ways. Sitting on the ball offers a soft cushion while gently forcing you to balance and maintain good posture. Kneeling in front of the ball and draping your arms over it can do wonders to help you stretch and relieve back pain. Leaning against the ball helps you shift weight, reduce stress and take the pressure off. And squatting on a birthing ball can enlarge your pelvis more than lying flat while it maintains the alignment of your baby in the pelvis.
A birthing ball offers support and flexibility and it won’t interrupt fetal monitoring.
If you are thinking of borrowing or buying a birthing ball, keep these things in mind.
• Buy a strong, sports-grade ball that comes with a pump (take the pump with you to the hospital in case you need to change the pressure at some point)
• The average woman uses a 65 cm ball.
• You should be able to sit comfortably in an upright position with your feet flat on the floor about 18 inches apart
• When getting started, have someone be your spotter for a while until you have a good sense of balance (it may be trickier to balance than you think!)
• Have fun with it and practice several positions before labor so that you can run through your repertoire and experiment with all of them when labor finally arrives.
Don’t forget, that the birthing ball can be enormously helpful with getting back into shape once your little one has arrived.