Last Updated: February 1, 2023
Although pregnancy can bring plenty of joy, it may also cause a lot of discomfort and unpleasantness. One way to help alleviate some of the discomforts of pregnancy is to use a birthing ball.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to pick a birthing ball that works best for you and when to start using an exercise ball in pregnancy. We’ll also mention some birthing ball exercises, as well as the benefits birthing balls, may bring.
Is There a Difference Between a Birthing Ball and an Exercise Ball?
Exercise balls used in the gym and birthing balls aimed at helping labor are essentially the same, as both are made of puncture-resistant durable materials and used for exercise. However, birthing balls are often larger and made of anti-slip materials, which makes them more secure and comfortable for pregnant women to use.
Why a Birthing Ball’s Size Matters
When using a birthing ball, it’s important the size of the ball makes a good fit so you can be comfortable, and birthing balls come in three different sizes (small, medium, and large). Store-bought balls are usually sold inflated, while those sold online must be inflated after purchase.
When shopping for a ball, your height will serve as a guide to help you determine the right size for you. As a general rule, your knees should be around 4 inches lower than your hips when you sit on the birthing ball.
The following guidelines can help you find the right birthing ball size to use during pregnancy:
- Choose a 55 cm ball if you’re 5 foot 4 or shorter
- Choose a 65 cm ball if you’re 5 foot 4 to 10 inches tall
- Choose a 75 cm ball if you are 5 foot 10 or taller.
However, recommendations can vary, so it’s important to read manufacturer guidelines. Finding the right ball size is crucial, as sitting too high or too low can cause pain in your lower back and knees.
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When to Start Using an Exercise Ball in Pregnancy?
You can start using an exercise ball during any stage of pregnancy, without waiting for the third trimester of pregnancy or your due date to pass. Thus, many say it’s best to start off as early as possible, preferably during your first or at the beginning of the second trimester. The second trimester is a good time to start, as this is when you begin to see the first changes in your body.
During this time, your body is trying to accommodate your rapidly growing baby. Any type of pregnancy ball exercise during this period will help make your journey to motherhood more comfortable—women reported that sitting on the birthing ball helped them during the preparation for labor, active labor, and even during the transition.
How to Use a Birthing Ball?
Mothers-to-be can use the birthing ball at different stages all throughout and after their pregnancy to reduce back pain and pelvic pain, ease the pain of contractions, and much more. In addition to a birthing ball, another thing you can do to make the seemingly long period of nine months more bearable for any pregnant woman who signs her up for one of these quality subscription boxes for women.
Read on to find out how using a birthing ball can help soothe your varying needs before, during, and after giving birth.
Apart from experiencing pain in the lower back during labor, women can also feel it during pregnancy. Sitting on an exercise ball while watching TV or at work can reduce back pain and help your baby switch from a posterior to an anterior position, easing the lower back pain. Another way to make sure you’re getting good support and relief from pain in the upper and lower back is to purchase a maternity pillow.
Sitting on a ball can also help improve your posture, strengthen your back and stomach muscles, and prepare your body for labor.
It can be difficult to find the right position for giving birth, but just as a birthing ball can be helpful during pregnancy, it can also help ease pelvic pain and reduce spine pressure. There are numerous ways to use a birthing ball during labor:
- You can try sitting on a birthing ball and rocking from side to side or front to back. If this doesn’t do the trick for you, you might find it more comfortable to lean forward while your partner massages your back.
- You can use a pillow and a birthing ball while giving birth to lower the pain and pressure in your back and pelvis. Place a pillow on the floor and get on your hands and knees on top of it, lean forward, and hug the birthing ball.
After Giving Birth
Sitting on a deflated exercise ball after pregnancy can make women more comfortable, as it’s normal to experience pressure or pain in the area between the anus and vagina after giving birth. Deflating the ball will make it softer and more comfortable to sit on, and you can also sit on it while breastfeeding or rocking the baby to sleep.
Birthing Ball Exercises
You can start with birthing ball exercises whenever you feel ready, as they make great prenatal as well as postnatal exercises and birthing ball exercises during labor.
Here’s how to do some of them:
Bouncing on the ball for a few minutes is a good way to strengthen the muscles on your legs and improve overall balance.
You can alleviate knee pressure after using the birthing ball for this exercise. Doing squats is fairly simple—start by placing a birthing ball between your back and the wall, position your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and use the ball to lower yourself into a squatting position. Push yourself back into a standing position and repeat. You can check this video to see exactly how to do squats with a birthing ball.
Hula Hoop Exercise
Circling on the ball can help strengthen and tone your core muscles. To do this exercise with a birthing ball in pregnancy, all you have to do is sit on the ball with your hands placed on your hips and start circling the hips as if you’re hula hooping.
|Your height can help you determine the right birthing ball size for you.|
|You can use a birthing ball both during all the stages of your pregnancy and after it.|
|Birthing ball exercises can help strengthen your muscles and promote pain relief.|
|Using a ball will elevate your labor pain, anxiety, and stress.|
Benefits of a Birthing Ball
No matter what pregnancy ball exercise you choose or if you simply try sitting on the curve of a birthing ball, you can gain various benefits, including:
1. Reducing Pain in the Lower Back, Spine, and Pelvic Pain
Sitting on a birthing ball in an upright position can help open up your pelvic muscles and aid the preparation for labor.
2. Reducing Anxiety, Stress, and Labor Pain
One study involving around 200 women looked into how birthing ball exercises can help manage labor pain. Birthing ball specialists held individual or group 30-minute classes for women admitted to a labor ward, after which they measured the anxiety levels and pain intensity and frequency. Results showed that using the birthing ball in the 3rd trimester lowers stress and anxiety and reduces labor pains.
You can experiment with birthing ball exercises and make them part of your routine both during and after pregnancy. A birthing ball can help you stay active and strengthen your muscles, which will help reduce back pain and pelvic pain in the prenatal stage, and it can also bring comfort after giving birth. Overall, it’s an inexpensive way to stay healthy and in shape while dealing with the difficulties of pregnancy.
To gain the most out of the benefits of birthing ball exercises, you need to find the right size, which should correspond to your height:
- Women who are 5 foot 4 or shorter need a 55 cm ball
- Women who are 5 foot 4 to 10 inches tall need a 65cm ball
- Women who are 5 foot 10 or taller need a 75 cm ball.
Bouncing on a ball is often recommended as a way to induce labor, but it’s also a very good exercise for relieving back pain and relaxing the pelvic floor naturally. Bouncing on the ball for a few minutes every day is highly recommendable.
Some of the most common questions about pregnancy include when to start using an exercise ball in pregnancy and if it’s safe to use it during labor. Not only is it safe, but there are also a lot of exercises proven to be very beneficial for inducing labor.