A Birthing Ball is a professional grade physical therapy ball. 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. You may first become familiar with a Birthing Ball during childbirth education class or during a tour of the facility in which you will be giving birth. Many expectant parents have even purchased their own Birthing Balls!
How to choose a Birth Ball:
Birth Balls come in many sizes including 53 cm, 65 cm and 75 cm rounds. Bright and colorful, these are NOT the same balls as are sold in toy stores. Professional physical therapy balls are made of slow deflate materials to allow for "dismount" if there is a puncture, no latex, and weight tested to 600 lbs or more.
|When to use the ball|
| 53 cm round
||under 5' 2"
| 65 cm round
|| 5' 2" to 5' 8"
| 75 cm round
|| over 5' 8"
About the Birthing Ball:
- The Birthing Ball should be large enough for you to sit on with legs bent at a 90-degree angle. If you are a tall woman, 5'9'' or taller, you might want to use a ball larger in circumference (see chart above).
- Use the Birthing Ball with a "spotter", someone to watch over you, such as a labor nurse or doula. When a mother is pregnant, the center of gravity is altered and you will need someone to help steady yourself to avoid becoming off balanced. You may want to try a birth ball base if a spotter is not always available.
- The Birthing Ball should be inflated to the point that is slightly firm but still "gives"; it should roll easily. Faster Blaster pumpstake half of the time of foot pumps as they double action pumps.
- 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. This is helpful if she experiences carpel tunnel syndrome.
- 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 (especially the peanut ball). Squatting helps widen pelvic outlet to its maximum.
- You can also use the Ball to curl around should you elect to have epidural anesthesia.
Livingston, C. (2014) The Birth Ball Source Book.