"ball" during labor!
secret's out! Birthing balls are one of least expensive, easiest to use, and most beneficial
aids to labor and delivery. Not to mention, one of the
most enjoyable! These
burst-resistant exercise balls offer natural comfort and support
throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
fitness balls have been used for therapy and
conditioning. But now they are coming into their own in gyms, homes - and
birthing centers and hospital obstetric departments throughout
what to look for or what size to get? Our handy Birthing
Ball Guide offers tips on selecting, caring for, and using this
fabulous big ball.
though, consider the possibilities:
Fitball Great Expectations Pregnancy
Pregnancy Manual: Prenatal Exercises
Faster Blaster Hand Pump
the right birthing ball
The ball size that
generally works best with laboring mothers is the 65 cm.
This may vary somewhat, though, depending upon the user's
height. Women who are tall, say 5' 10" or up, might
prefer the 75cm ball.
Inflate the ball until it
is slightly firm, yet still "gives" slightly to the
touch. To take the worry and guesswork out of the
inflation process, just make a mark on the wall at the correct
height for the ball you are using (65cm, etc.). Then place
the ball next to the wall and inflate it to the mark.
Inflated, the ball should
be large enough for you to sit on with your legs bent at a 90
degree angle. Over time, your ball may lose a little air -
just add more to maintain the correct size.
your birthing ball
Birthing balls are easily
cleaned using plain old soap and water. For an all-over
scrub, plunk the ball in tub or shower, wipe clean using a soapy
cloth, then rinse.
Observe a few simple
precautions to safeguard your birthing ball. Keep sharp
objects away from the ball. And don't store it in
temperatures over eighty degrees, because heat can shrink the
those toes! Bare feet provide important traction when
you are balancing on the birthing ball. If you wear socks or
shoes, be sure they're of the non-slip variety.
aboard! Hold the birthing ball steady with your hands
as you sit down. To increase your stability, plant your
feet flat on the floor about two feet apart. It's also a
good idea to have a spotter (partner or friend) stand behind you
ready to assist should you become off balanced. Pregnancy
shifts the center of gravity, so it may take a while before you
Don't wait until you're
nearing term to break out your birthing ball!
Start getting acquainted with - and enjoying - it right
away. Here's what you stand to gain:
Conditioning Gentle exercise
on the birthing ball can strengthen the abdominal
"pushing" muscles, as well as the lower-back muscles
that minimize back pain.
Relaxation The ball can be used for
massage and general relaxation, as well as for practicing birth positions.
Comfort During the last few weeks of
pregnancy, especially, the birthing ball is often more comfortable than a
chair or bed - not to mention, easier to get onto and off of!
Physical Relief Kneeling over the ball
can ease back strain and encourage the baby to settle into an optimal
During labor, the birthing ball really comes
into its own, providing support and easing discomfort. It
may even hasten the delivery.
The ball is easier to get onto and to rise from
than a regular chair, couch, or the floor - one big plus! And it
adapts to your needs, accommodating a variety of sitting,
kneeling, and squatting positions.
Such comfort and convenience are only the
beginning, though. Other benefits await...
Natural rhythm The birthing ball fosters
a natural swaying movement back and forth that harmonizes with the rhythms
Readjustment The ball also encourages
position changing - rocking the pelvis, shifting weight, etc. - during
Support By reducing stress on the hands
and wrists, the ball can enable you to remain longer in the hands and knees
Alignment Sitting on the birthing ball
helps keep the baby properly aligned in the pelvis.
Movement The ball encourages pelvic
Assistance The birthing ball works with
gravity to encourage the baby's descent into the pelvis.
Relaxation Sitting on warm compresses
placed upon the ball eases pelvic floor aching and helps relax the pelvic
Dilation The birthing ball may speed up
dilation and effacement, improving the progress of labor.
Don't stash the birthing ball after you
deliver. It offers fitness, relaxation, and fun for the
For you You may be impatient
to get back in shape. If so, your birthing/exercise ball
can help. Pop an instructional video into the VCR, settle
onto the ball and get started, stretching and strengthening your
upper and lower body.
your baby The birthing ball can help calm a fussy
or colicky baby. Once you are securely seated on the ball,
take the baby in your arms. While patting him, bounce
gently, letting the rhythmic motion soothe. Or while
standing, place the infant stomach-down on the ball, hold
securely, and bounce gently. The soft pressure may ease
everybody Don't be surprised if visitors insist
upon trying your ball out. Grade schoolers will rejoice in
the ball's ability to draw admiring "oohs" and "ahhhs!"
from their friends. And high spirited toddlers or
preschoolers will find endless ways to romp and roll with the
ball. These big beautiful balls enchant young and old