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What is a Birthing Ball?

By J.Gunsch
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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A birthing ball is an accessory used to provide comfort during and after pregnancy, as well as to assist women during the labor of childbirth. A birthing ball is a large rubber ball that is strong enough to support the weight of large adult. Birthing balls were originally designed for use in physical therapy to promote strength training, stretching exercises and endurance.

Before labor, a birthing ball can be used to improve or eliminate backaches that are common during pregnancy. Sitting on a birthing ball while pregnant helps a woman to maintain the proper posture to support her growing asymmetrical body. This posture encouraged by the birthing ball also helps to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, which prevents the occurrence of back problems throughout pregnancy. Sitting on the birthing ball before the child is born also relieves leg cramping and has a calming effect.

The use of a birthing ball before labor prepares the body for giving birth. It widens and flexes the pelvic bones and joints, helping the baby descend into the birth canal more easily. It also strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are responsible for the pushing stage of childbirth. A birthing ball should be used daily to reap all its benefits when preparing for labor.

The use of a birthing ball during labor helps to relieve discomfort and pain associated with contractions, as well as providing focus for the laboring mother. When a woman is in labor, she is encouraged to rock her pelvis back and forth to encourage the descent of the baby into the pelvic area. The birthing ball allows a woman to rock without having to stand, which provides optimum balance and stability. Straddling the birthing ball also helps to align the body to the proper position for a smoother birth.

Another use of the birthing ball during labor is to ease back labor. Back labor usually occurs when the baby is in a posterior position, which means that he or she is facing forward, or is "sunny side up." Ideally, babies should be born head-down, facing backward, in an anterior position. A posterior position causes excruciating contractions felt in the mother’s back. Leaning on a birthing ball with knees on the floor helps to relieve back labor, while at the same time encouraging the baby to turn to a more ideal position.

After delivery, a birthing ball can be used as a toning tool for returning to a pre-pregnancy form. It can also help to soothe the incisions from episiotomy or tears that sometimes result from delivery by providing a cushiony seat. A birthing ball can also benefit the newborn baby by relieving colic. Placing the colicky baby on the birthing ball on his stomach often relieves the discomfort.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1001331 — On Apr 06, 2019

Make sure to get the right size for your height. Having the right size birthing ball is very important, one size does not fit all. If you are under 5’10”, choose a 65cm ball. If you’re taller than 5’10”, choose the 75cm option.

Birthing Balls are so helpful with the pain of labor.

By cupcake15 — On Oct 24, 2010

Mutsy- I took a La Maze class when I was pregnant with my first child, but I ended up using an epidural because I could not take the pain.

The breathing techniques do work and if your breathing remains controlled you are supposed to be able to manage the pain effectively, but I did not have the patience.

Now for my second child, I had very little pain medication because my son's heart rate was depressed a bit. This time during active labor I felt everything and I can tell you that while it was painful, you recover much faster when you don’t experience pain medications like that.

I felt great right after I had my second child. Also, the labor is much shorter with each subsequent children.

By mutsy — On Oct 24, 2010

When you have a birth ball when you are experiencing labor pains, can be a blessing. Labor pains are a sharp pain in the lower pain that increase with the frequency and intensity of pain. If you buy a birthing ball to use for your vaginal birth, it will help relieve the pain that you feel in your lower back which is known as back labor as well as your pelvis.

The flexible birthing ball allows you to stretch you vaginal muscles and relieve the pressure on your back while keeping your posture steady.

Sometimes a birthing ball exercises to induce labor are used in order assist in a natural childbirth delivery.

If you take a La Maze class during your pregnancy, they will teach you how to use a birthing ball and help you will proper breathing techniques that help manage the pain.

They actually do birthing ball exercises in class, so that you can learn some of the birthing ball techniques.

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