Many women use birthing balls in the mid to late stages of their pregnancies. But if you’ve never used a birthing ball before, you might be wondering when’s the best time to start using one.
So in this post, we’ll explore the best time to start using a birthing ball. We’ll also take a look at some of the benefits that a birthing ball can bring.
What is a Birthing Ball?
A birthing ball is a large ball, usually made of PVC, which you can use to exercise during pregnancy. You can also use your birthing ball to get into a comfortable position during the late stage of your pregnancy, or during labour. Some mums continue to use birthing balls to exercise after their babies are born.
Benefits of Using a Birthing Ball
During your pregnancy, birthing balls can ease aches and pains, and help you to breathe better. Simple exercises can strengthen your core and balance, which can help you stay mobile as your pregnancy progresses. Birthing balls can also help you get your baby in the best position for birth. And apart from anything else, many women find birthing balls much more comfortable to sit on than chairs and couches.
Birthing balls can also help make labour shorter and easier. They can open up the pelvis, increase blood flow to the uterus, and they can even help the baby move down the birth canal. Certain positions can also help manage labour pain.
Finally, after your baby’s been born, your birthing ball can continue to help with exercising, stretching, and pain relief. Some women feed on their birthing ball too, as a gentle bouncing motion can help soothe the baby.
Choosing The Right Birthing Ball for You
What size birthing ball do I need?
The most important thing to get right is the size. When you sit on your birthing ball, your knees should be about 10 cm lower than your hips. Smaller birthing balls are 65 cm tall when inflated. You should choose this ball if you’re up to 5ft 8in tall. But if you’re over 5ft 8in tall, choose a larger 75cm birthing ball.
What’s the difference between a gym ball and a birthing ball?
Be careful not to buy a gym ball instead of a birthing ball. Though gym balls and birthing balls are technically the same thing, gym balls are often available in much smaller sizes. For best results, your birthing ball must be just the right size for you.
Birthing ball materials
If you have a latex-allergy, make sure your birthing ball’s latex-free. For extra stability, look for a birthing ball with a non-slip finish.
Birthing ball shapes
If you’re worried about slipping off your birthing ball, you can buy a peanut-shaped birthing ball instead. These don’t roll as much, which will help you keep stable.
Finally, birthing balls don’t always come with a pump. So you may have to buy a pump too.
How to Use Your Birthing Ball
Talk to your midwife before you buy your birthing ball. They’ll be able to advise on the best size to get, and they might even offer some tips on how to use it.
Here are some general tips on how to make the most of your birthing ball:
- Use your birthing ball on a carpeted floor rather than a smooth floor, as you’ll have more stability. But if you have no carpets, you can buy a birthing ball with a non-slip finish.
- You can further improve your grip and stability if you go barefoot while using your birthing ball.
- As with all exercises, the more you use your birthing ball, the greater the benefits will be. But take some time to get used to your birthing ball first, so that you can use it safely and comfortably at all times.
Basic Birthing Ball Exercises
Your midwife might be able to advise on good birthing ball exercises. Your birthing ball might also contain some instructions to help you get started.
But here are some basic birthing ball exercises you can try to help you get comfortable:
- Move your hips from side to side. This will help relieve the tension in your lower back.
- Make a circular, or a figure of 8 motion. As well as helping with back pain, this can help get your baby into the right position.
- Basic balancing. Just sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and our arms by your side. Hold this position and you’ll exercise your back, leg, and abdominal muscles – all of which can help relieve pain while keeping you flexible and mobile through your pregnancy.
- Supported kneeling. Kneel on the floor and lean over your ball, before gently rocking your hips back and forth. This will help strengthen your hips while relieving aches and pains all over your body.
Looking for a birthing ball workout? Check out this pregnancy exercise routine on YouTube.
When To Start Using a Birthing Ball
You can start using a birthing ball at any stage of your pregnancy.
Most women start using birthing balls from around 32 weeks, as it’s at this stage that a birthing ball can really make a difference when it comes to soothing aches and pains.
Need more advice on preparing for your baby’s arrival? Head here to read our guide to when you should start buying baby stuff.