So this is something to be used in your third trimester from about 32 weeks. How will it help you?
- It will help with your back as the design means that your spine will be pretty straight.
- The position that you sit in will help stretch the perineum and open that pelvis allowing for the baby to descend down.
- During labour, a wide legged stance can help blood flow to the uterus which will help with contractions.
- It can help relieve any anxiety or stress whilst you’re in labour. I think because you are doing something to birth your baby and being an active participant in your babys arrival – using a ball allows you to take control.
How to use it pre natally
Whilst there are specific exercises with the birthing ball (see below) just actually sitting on it can be enough, so aim for 20 minutes a day which is easy enough if you sit on it when you’re having dinner or breakfast or just whilst watching the TV.
Make sure that you sit with your feet apart so you are nice and steady.
- Hip circles – Just rotating your hips whilst sat on the ball is a good coping strategy in labour as well as help the baby get into a good position whilst you’re still pregnant. Imagine you are using a hula hoop – thats the action that you need to be using.
- Figure 8 – helps to relieve lower back pain and get baby to move down.
- Side to side – helps to stretch the hips and can relieve any pelvic tightness.
How to use it in labour
The techniques that are listed above for pre natal exercise can also be used in the early part of labour. You may find that kneeling on the floor or bed whilst leaning on the ball helps or standing with the ball on the bed so you can lead there may be useful.
As labour progresses then using the ball along with hip squeezes or other counter pressures can be really effective in managing the sensations that your body is experiencing.
How to choose one and where to buy
Here is a quick size guide. It is important to get the right one so you can make sure that your back is supported. It is worth asking if you can try one in the hospital as this will give you a chance to see if it works for you and if the one they have is the right size! Size guide is below.
- if you’re 5-foot 4 inches or shorter: 55 cm
- if you’re 5-foot 4 to 10 inches: 65 cm
- if you’re 5-foot 10 inches or taller: 75 cm
You can buy one in sports stores but also supermarkets have them so check out their sports sections.
Here is a great clip on how to use a birthing ball.
Always check with a medical professional before starting any exercises whilst pregnant.