Updated May 2019
I bought my birthing ball when I was about 7 months pregnant with my first baby. I had been looking at it online for a while, but I just couldn’t decide if it was something I would get enough use out of. After a few weeks, I went for it and I have been really pleased with my purchase. I have now used it during two pregnancies, for my second labour and postpartum.
Click on Childbirth the Essential Guide to find out all you need to know about labour, delivery and postpartum care.
Birthing Ball Basics
I ordered it in the size 75cm because I am 6ft and needed it to be high enough so that I could sit comfortably. They usually come in 3 size options:
- 55cm for up to 5ft2
- 65cm for 5ft2 to 5ft8
- 75cm for over 5ft8
You can also get different colour options. This is good as it takes up quite a bit of space when inflated and it is nicer if it fits in with the colour of the room. The most important thing for me when I was purchasing my birthing ball was to make sure it was not only anti-burst but also anti-slip. Not all normal gym balls are anti-slip. This is really important when you’re pregnant so that the ball doesn’t easily side out from underneath you. Also, try wearing non-slip socks and use your birthing ball on a carpet or rug rather than a smooth floor.
Pregnancy Posture and Backache
In the last few months of my pregnancies, I used my birthing ball at least once a day. Every evening I sat on the ball while I watched TV. I found it really comfortable and it was actually better than sitting on the sofa. Sitting on it helped to reduce the pressure on my spine which relieved some of my back pain. It didn’t take the pain away completely but it did ease it and made moving around a bit easier. It also helps to support your ankles and knees. The ball I purchased also came with some guides. One of these was photographs of different prenatal exercises you could do on your ball.
Towards the end of my first pregnancy, I found out that the baby wasn’t quite in the right position. I was advised to bounce and rock on the ball to encourage the baby to wiggle into position. For a few weeks, I bounced on my ball every day and also did the figure of eight movements while sitting on the ball. It worked for me and baby’s head moved into the correct position and became engaged.
Encouraging Labour to progress
When I went into labour for the first time I was kept in hospital. I didn’t get a chance to use my own birthing ball, but the hospital did provide me with a smaller one. I noticed the difference between the sizing and didn’t find this one as comfortable to sit on.
Most of my second labour was spent at home and I sat on my ball for the whole time. I felt more comfortable sitting up during labour than lying on a bed. Also sitting upright encourages the baby to descend into the pelvis and the pelvic muscles to open ready for delivery. My second labour was much shorter than my first and I did spend most of it sat on my birthing ball.
Movements to try during labour:
- rocking your pelvis side to side
- rocking your pelvis back and forward
- moving your hips in a figure of eight
- rotating your hips clockwise and then anticlockwise
- kneeling on the floor and leaning over your ball then rocking forward and backward
Postnatal Birthing Ball
After I had my first baby I found some new uses for my ball. It was still really comfy to sit on after a very long labour and made a different place to sit for breastfeeding. I also had a guide of postnatal exercises that were designed to help your body to heal after giving birth. But the best use we found for it was to soothe our first baby during ‘witching hour’ at that time when nothing you do calms them down. I would gently bounce him on the ball and rock him until he stopped crying. It worked miracles when nothing else would!
I am really pleased with my birthing ball. It was great to sit on during pregnancy and did help with my posture and backache. I also think it helped my second labour to progress quickly – almost too quickly! It is definitely a good investment if you’re pregnant, for labour and for postpartum exercise.