How a birth ball can help a laboring mom progress and find rest

As parents prepare for the day of their baby’s arrival, they are presented with a plethora of options: hospital, birth center, home birth, midwife, OB/GYN, doula, natural birth, epidural, induction…

It’s enough to make your head spin! In the coming posts I’m going to share a few simple birth tools that I have used successfully as a doula time and time again, taking a bit of guess work out of your list of decisions for the birth. Today’s tool: the birth ball.

Birth Ball

Also known as a yoga ball or exercise ball, the birth ball can be purchased for $10-$15. Sitting on a ball during labor can bring an opportunity for a birthing mother to rest while allowing her to stay in an upright position. This tends to be more comfortable than lying down. Sitting on a ball helps open up a mother’s pelvis. Moving her hips while she sits on a ball can help encourage the baby to move down through the birth canal.

Birth balls can be used prenatally as well. When a pregnant mom sits on a birth ball her posture straightens out and it becomes easier for her baby to get into an ideal position for the birth.

Even kneeling and leaning on a ball can use gravity to help draw the baby’s spine down. This can aid baby into assuming an “occiput anterior” position, which can lead to a shorter, less painful birth. (Find out more about fetal positioning at www.spinningbabies.com) Plus, it takes pressure off a tired, pregnant mama’s back. That’s a win-win!

For a mom who is laboring with an epidural, I like to take about half the air out of the birth ball and put it between her legs while she rests on her side. This allows her pelvis to open up, creating space for the baby to move down, and allowing the mom to get some rest before pushing.

Did you use a birth ball during pregnancy or birth? What worked for you?