If you’ve made a commitment to a natural childbirth, you may have a birth plan that includes soft soothing music and your partner by your side. You may have practiced imagining warm sandy beaches and mastered the art of breathing deeply and finding your focal point. We want you to know that we have the resources to make your natural birth and labor as comfortable and supported as possible. You’ll find:
- massage sticks for your partner to use to ease back pain
- birth balls
We offer two types of birth balls—the traditional round ball that looks like an exercise ball and the peanut-shaped birth ball. You can use them both for pre-natal stretching, exercising and strengthening muscles, but the real magic happens during labor.
Many pregnant and laboring women find great comfort in using birth balls. The birth ball may:
- Help the baby move into a better position during labor.
- Help open the pelvis.
- Ease labor pain.
- Reduce anxiety and shorten the first stage of labor.
- Ease tension in your back.
Buying one to use throughout your pregnancy
When choosing a birth ball, first consider what material you need. If you have a latex allergy, you will obviously need a latex-free ball. Choose a burst-resistant ball that fits your height. If you’re:
- 5’4″ choose a 55 cm ball
- 5’4″–5’10” choose a 65 cm ball
- over 5’10” choose a 75 cm ball
If you’re shorter than 5’4″ or on the borderline between sizes, go a size up and underinflate the ball. A slightly underinflated ball (one size up) is more stable, due to its squashed shape, than a firmly inflated ball (one size down).
You may also want to purchase a ball that is weighted with a few inches of sand. This adds stability.
Inflate your ball according to the included manufacturer’s directions. You know your ball is properly inflated when you sit on it and your knees are level with your bottom. If your bottom is higher than your knees, the ball is too big or it’s overinflated. If your bottom is lower than your knees, it narrows the pelvic opening, which isn’t good for baby’s positioning or labor.
Balls tend to lose air over time. So be sure to keep yours at the correct height for sitting comfortably.
Using it the first time—have someone with you for support
The safest way to get onto a birthing ball for the first time is to make sure it’s backed up to a sofa. Have someone hold the ball steady for you the first time.
- Sit on the sofa with the ball in front of you and slowly ease your lower body and one leg over to the ball while holding it in place with your hand.
- If you purchased a ball stand, it will keep the ball steady for you.
- Practice a few times, until you’re able to get on and off with ease.
Using it during pregnancy
A few exercises to try, include:
- Sitting so your feet are flat and apart. Your feet and the center of the ball should make a tripod when you sit down. Use the ball to help you gently rock from side to side and back and forth. Sitting on a birth ball gives you a mini-workout. As you rock or bounce on it gently, your tummy and back muscles will be working hard to keep you upright.
- Exercising your pelvic floor while sitting on your birthing ball. It can be easier to feel what is happening and you’ll also be working your lower tummy muscles at the same time.
Using it during labor
It’s best to practice using the ball before you go into labor so you feel comfortable and safe using it. Try the following:
- Sit on the ball and rock from side to side and back and forth, like you’ve been doing during pregnancy.
- Kneel on the floor, place your hands on your birthing ball cross-armed so that you make a cradle for your head, then lean on the top of the ball.
- While kneeling, hug the ball and rock your pelvis from side to side.
- Place your ball on a bed, place your hands on your birthing ball cross-armed so that you make a cradle for your head, then lean on the ball.
- These positions also give your partner plenty of room to apply pressure to your lower back if that is comforting.
Using it after birth
- After you give birth, your birth ball may be more comfortable to sit on than a hard chair. Deflate it a little to make it softer and to take the pressure off any stitches or bruising.
- You may like to use your ball to sit on while you breastfeed. If you choose to do this, make sure someone is with you at all times to steady and stabilize the ball. Once you feel comfortable and steady, it will be better for your posture than slumping on the sofa while feeding.
- Again make sure someone is there to steady you at all times and that you feel comfortable, and then try soothing your baby by cuddling her and bouncing on your ball.
- Now that you’ve given birth, you can change the name of your birth ball to an exercise ball and start using it to build strength.
Do you want to know more about having a great pregnancy and birth experience? Call us about our Pampered Pregnancy Program.
We are pleased to be able to offer the Pampered Pregnancy Program to our expectant parents right here in New Jersey. This program has been thoughtfully tailored to provide a family-centered, personal birth experience for each and every one of our patients. Learn more about the individual care and attention we can provide to you so that you can relax and focus on what is most important—the birth of your baby. Call us at 201.821.8819.