The Birth Ball for movement and pain relief in labour is a large inflated exercise ball that has been adopted into maternity care to aid relaxation and movement (Perez .P 2000). The woman can sit on or lean against the ball, which provides soft support. The ball also expands the number of positions the woman can assume for comfort and offers a means for movement (e.g. bouncing, rolling) in these positions, which provides a counter-distraction during contractions. Many hospitals have birth balls in their maternity departments and encourage labouring women to use them for comfort.
When inflated you should have your knees lower than your hips and achieve a 90 degree angle at you hip. Below I have described ways for you to use your birth ball.
BOUNCING ON THE BALL – Sit and bounce up and down.
ROCKING SIDE TO SIDE – Sitting on the ball with your legs spread wide slowly rock your hips from right to left
ROCKING FORWARD AND BACK – Sitting on the ball, legs spread far apart, placing your hands on your hips or wherever you find comfortable and begin to sway your hips rocking from front the back.
HIP CIRCLES – Sitting on the ball with your legs apart begin to circle your hips to the left a few times then switch directions by circling your hips to the right.
FIGURE 8′S – Sitting on the ball, legs apart start rolling your hips to make figure 8′s. starting by moving to the left a few times then switch directions to the right.
SUPPORTED All four’s ON BIRTH BALL – (This is great for helping baby get into the right position and just feels good ) kneeling hips distance apart drape your upper body over the birth ball and either hang here and relax or rock your hips from side to side .
SQUATTING – Do you want to get the baby down? Then squat away!!!
1. Place your ball against a wall, open your legs and come into a squatting position leaning back on the ball for support – Take a deep breath thru your nose into your pelvic area. Exhale thru your mouth, breathing out the sensation of the contraction, relaxing and letting go of any tension in your pelvic floor as your cervix opens and baby drops.
2. Have your partner sit on the birth ball. Sit in-between their legs and squat down using their legs and the ball for support. (This is great because I can massage the birthing mama’s head and shoulders while in the position)
SITTING ON BALL RELAXING ON STACK OF PILLOWS – You are in an upright relaxed position and you can get a back massage at the same time. .
12 benefits from using your birth ball in labour so go ahead and get practicing!
By using it you adopt physiological positions for labour
It encourages your baby to descend into the pelvis
It helps a baby to rotate out of the posterior position
It encourages your pelvis to relax
It definitely helps to relieve back pain
It can still be used in labour if you are being monitored on a CTG machine
You can adopt the hands and knees position with ease.
It can help you to maintain a wider pelvic outlet whilst you give birth.
It encourages you to move freely for your comfort.
It may even speed up your labour.
It helps your contractions be less painful and more productive.
It helps you to sleep during the latent stage of labour.
OK get that ball pumped up and start practicing all these moves!
Reference. Perez P. Birth Balls: use of physical therapy balls in Maternity care, cutting edge Press, Johnson, VT 2000.