Using a Birth Ball to enhance labor progress:
A Birthing Ball is a physical therapy ball (approximately 65 cm) Birthing Balls can help expectant/laboring women get into positions that are more comfortable and can enhance labor's progress. These positions provide movement to change the position of the baby if necessary. Clients may first become familiar with a Birthing Ball during childbirth education class or during a tour of the facility in which they will be giving birth. Be sure to encourage practice on it during childbirth class! Many expectant parents have even purchased their own Birthing Balls!
About the Birthing Ball:
- The Birthing Ball should be large enough for your client to sit on with legs bent at a 90-degree angle. If your client or patient is a tall woman, 5'9'' or taller, you might want to suggest a ball larger in circumference.
- Use the Birthing Ball with a "spotter", someone to watch over the mother, such as a labor nurse or doula. When a mother is pregnant, the center of gravity is altered and she will need someone to help steady herself to avoid becoming off balanced.
- The Birthing Ball should be inflated to the point that is slightly firm but still "gives"; it should roll easily.
- Always keep sharp objects away from the Birthing Ball.
- The Birthing Ball can be used with both the external and internal electronic fetal monitoring, should this become necessary. Check with your labor nurse or doula for the hospital policy regarding the use of the Birthing Ball in your particular situation.
- A labor nurse or doula may place a "chux" pad over the ball while the mother is laboring on it. If the water breaks or is leaking while the mother is on the Birthing Ball, a chux will help.
- Before purchasing a Birthing Ball, make sure it contains no latex. This is extremely important for clients/patients with known latex allergies.
Why Use This Ball?
- Sitting upright and movement on the Birthing Ball enhances descent of the baby through the pelvic bones, taking advantage of gravity.
- Sitting on the ball helps keep the baby well aligned in the pelvis.
- The Birthing Ball enhances relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles or "Kegels" by conforming to the mother's body without pressure. Sitting on warm compresses on the Birthing Ball will also enhance pelvic floor relaxation.
- There is less strain on the hands and arms when mother is in the hands and knees position, leaning over the Birthing Ball.
- Positioning on the Ball may speed up labor through the use of gravity.
- Sitting on the Ball can be used as a support while squatting. Squatting helps widen pelvic outlet to its maximum.
- Your client/patient can also use the Ball to curl around should they elect to have epidural anesthesia.
The Labor Progress Handbook: Early Interventions to Prevent and Treat Dystocia by Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta. (available at Amazon for purchase or as a Kindle download)
The Birth Ball Source Book by Connie Livingston