using a birthing ball during pregnancy for exercises and labour

Can I Use a Birthing Ball for Exercises and Labour?

How did I Survive my Pregnancy and Labour?

You’re having a baby and you’re about to enter an unfamiliar out of body experience like no other felt before (unless you have given birth in the past!)

There will be ups and down throughout the various pregnancy stages. Aches and pains brought on by your pregnancy weight gain.

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As you move through pregnancy week by week your growing baby will gradually cause you to slow down, a lack of sleep will leave you feeling worn down and all of a sudden labour seems a daunting task.

Pregnant women fear not, say hello to the Birthing Ball!

Hmm okay ... What does a Birthing Ball do to Help!?

Before I start, I have to highlight, a birthing ball really is a must in your birth plan ladies.

Regular use of my birthing ball gave me the comfort, relaxation and feel good hormone (endorphin) boost I needed as I moved through my pregnancy trimesters.

And what's more, it is easy to make part of your daily routine - it can be used in the comfort of your own home.

Everyday pregnancy exercise caused a nice distraction and gave me something to focus on (rather than those body aches!)

Triggering a positive feeling in my body and working against aches and pains, regular exercise with the ball helped me to sleep much easier.

mum and baby

Daily interaction during pregnancy also meant I was well prepared for the first two stages of labour.

It really helped to increase my strength and suppleness, playing a meaningful role by preparing me for the pushing stage of labour.

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Birthing ball positions helped to reduce my lower back pain when early signs of labour began. The ball transformed from a Pregnancy Ball into the perfect labour ball (not in a literal sense!)

Provided comfort as the intensity of contractions increased. The ball was with me all the way as I progressed through labour.

I was able to seek out the positions and places in which I felt most comfortable when giving birth.

My interaction with the birthing ball, gave me the greatest gift, a natural birth for me and my baby!

Sounds great right!? Pregnant women, we can do it! Here’s how...

When can I start Using a Birthing Ball and Who Does it Help?

For best results, start using your birthing ball as early as your first trimester.

That said, you will still feel the benefits if you start to use the ball further on in pregnancy.

The ball is multi-functional and can be used by pregnant women of all ages, shapes and sizes.

Birthing ball exercises are a great way to strengthen your core and engage the muscle groups that you will rely on during labour.

when to start using a birthing ball

By starting in your first trimester you will be able to prepare your body to cope with the additional pregnancy weight gain you will endure as your baby really begins to grow during the second trimester.

There are various pregnancy exercises out there on the web, and all can be done at your own pace!

(Keep on reading to see 7 of the best pregnancy ball exercises here in this blog!)

By the time you reach your third trimester, you might be tempted to put your birthing ball to one side.

Think again. You can really begin to use the birthing ball to engage your baby.

Using the ball as a replacement for a chair can help to improve posture and relieve pain in your back and pelvic area.

Adopting forward leaning positions either by sitting or kneeling with the birthing ball can encourage your baby into the correct position ready for birth.

Simple and light exercise with the ball can help to encourage your baby into an optimal foetal position, increasing your chances of giving birth naturally and reducing the odds of you needing labour intervention.

Unlock the benefits of the BABYGO birthing ball

Top Tip

Dedicating time to your birthing ball during pregnancy really can reap huge rewards for both you and your baby.

Ok, so Birthing Ball or Gym Ball? Argh!?... What’s the difference?

A birthing ball is not the same as gym ball.

Although both can be made from anti-burst materials, meaning they deflate slowly if punctured, there is a definite difference in material quality and the weight that both can resist.

A good quality anti-burst birthing ball will feel much sturdier and comfortable when sat on and will be able to bear your pregnancy weight no problem, allowing you to maintain a good posture.

Sitting on a regular gym ball, you will notice the material feels thinner and a little flimsy, causing you to sink down into the ball.

You will find it harder to gain your balance and a little less easy after your pregnancy weight gain making it harder to do pregnancy exercises.

Top Tip

Make sure you purchase a good quality anti-burst birthing ball.

Birthing balls range in quality. Be sure you’re looking for a weight-bearing measurement on the specification.

The maximum weight the ball can resist the better. You’re safety matters!

Which is the Best Size Ball for Me? Argh!?... (Again)

The most popular sizes are the 65cm and 75cm birthing ball. Ideally, when sat on the ball you want your knees to be about 10cm or 4 inches lower than your hips.

Follow the birthing ball size guide when choosing the right anti-burst ball for you.

If you are up to 5 feet 4 inch in height you can buy a ball at 65cm and inflate it to a diameter of 60cm.

If you are between 5 feet 5 inch and 5 feet 10 inch in height the best pregnancy ball for you is a 65cm ball, fully inflated to a diameter of 65cm.

If you are taller than 5 feet 11 inch you will need to purchase a larger ball at 75cm and inflate it to a diameter of 75cm.

best birthing ball size for me in pregnancy

Birthing balls tend to lose a little air with use.

You might need to top up your ball every now and again to keep it at the correct height for sitting comfortably with proper posture.

Be careful not to over inflate your ball as you may find it hard to use correctly.

All good birthing balls will come complete with a tape measure so that you can check that the ball is inflated to the perfect diameter for your height on the birthing ball size chart.

Top Tip

The best birthing ball brands will include extras in the box, such as a plug removal tool.

The plug removal tool will make life a lot easier when you need to remove the plug from the ball to inflate it with more air.

Okay, I’m ready... but How do I Use a Birthing Ball?

Most birthing ball techniques are simple and anybody can do them. There isn’t one single best way to use the ball - there are many!

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This is what makes it an excellent choice.

The benefits of using the BABYGO birthing ball during pregnancy include:

  • Strengthening muscle groups, joints and ligaments in preparation for the pushing stage of labour.
  • Stretching muscle groups and ligaments to help with your balance as your pregnancy develops.
  • Improving posture and positions that can help encourage your baby to turn into an optimal foetal position.
  • Comfort against aches and pains from sitting, kneeling and leaning positions.
  • Releasing “Endorphins” the feel-good hormone into your body and helping you to sleep easier.
  • Preparing you for safer labour.

Can a Birthing Ball Help to Induce Labour?

We all dream of giving birth naturally. Let’s not deny ourselves that dream!

1 in 5 labours are now induced in the UK.

You will probably know of somebody who has needed labour intervention and listened to how they experienced intense pain.

They will have probably told you how it was all worth it in the end!

Of course, that might be true. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is something more beautiful to be said for being patient. Artificial hormones cannot replicate the wonders of natural hormones when giving birth.

newborn baby

Your baby knows that they must move down the birth canal, but they cannot communicate to you, how they need this help.

Birthing ball positions can help you interact with your baby and communicate the message they need. A gravity-assisted push towards the exit.

The pressure of your baby’s head pressing down on your cervix, caused by gentle movement on the birthing ball, can help stimulate the release of the Oxytocin Hormone and bring on labour.

The Oxytocin Hormone encourages your uterus to contract and dilate the cervix. It is often called the “Love Hormone” and is associated with feelings of bonding and motherhood.

With the help of high levels of Oestrogen, Oxytocin causes the release of a group of hormones, known as Prostaglandins, causing your cervix to soften.

Pregnant women, we can do it naturally!

So here it is, 7 of the Best Exercises For Pregnancy and Labour

Trimester 1 and Trimester 2

These pregnancy ball exercises are a great way to prepare your body for that extra pregnancy weight gain and the demands of labour!

I’ve included a mix of core strengthening pregnancy exercises with birthing ball exercises ideal for keeping you flexible and keeping your muscles loose.

Inclined Front Ball Plank

Pregnancy Inclined Front Ball Plank

  1. Kneel in front of your ball, keeping your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Place your forearms on top of the ball.
  3. Lift up your hips to form a straight diagonal line from your shoulders to your ankles.
  4. Your weight should be placed on your forearms. Elbows should be under shoulders.
  5. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes tight.
  6. Hold Position for 5 to 10 Seconds with perfect form and breathe normally.
  7. Feel the release in your quads, glutes and abdominals.
  8. Repeat and work within the limitations of your body.
Unlock the benefits of the BABYGO birthing ball

Wall Ball Squat

Wall Ball Squat Pregnancy Exercise

  1. Stand and position the ball between the wall and the curve of your lower back.
  2. Place your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, pointing your toes slightly outward.
  3. Whilst leaning on the ball, lower your body slowly into a squat.
  4. Bend your knees, keeping your shoulders level and hips square.
  5. Your pelvis should not go below knee level, stop when your quads are parallel to the floor.
  6. Hold for 3 seconds and then slowly return to your start position.
  7. Feel the release in your quads, glutes and abdominals.
  8. Repeat and work within the limitations of your body.

Childs Pose with Ball

Childs Pose Pregnancy Ball Exercise

  1. Kneel in front of your ball with your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Place both hands on the ball and roll it away from you.
  3. Lower your head between your arms and lean forward.
  4. Sit back onto your heels.
  5. Relax and inhale deeply, as you exhale let yourself sink downwards.
  6. Hold for as long as comfortable and feel the release on your back, shoulders, neck and chest.

Small Bridge

Small Bridge Birthing Ball Exercise

  1. Sit on the ball, keeping your knees above your ankles.
  2. Gently start moving down the ball so that it pushes out with your body.
  3. Lie back, leaving only your shoulders neck and head on the ball.
  4. Your legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.
  5. Whilst in position, breathe in deeply and let your chest expand.
  6. Exhale and draw your belly button in so that you feel like you are wearing a tight corset.
  7. Maintain this position for around 30 seconds.
  8. Feel the release on your core and lower back.
  9. Lower yourself completely to the ground and sit upright. 10. Repeat and work within the limitations of your body.

Top Tip

If exercise isn’t your thing then simply bouncing on a birthing ball or gently rocking your hips can provide a great mini-workout.

This is a fun way to boost your mood, improve your posture and balance, and will have you engage your core muscles without even realising.

Trimester 3

Upright and forward-leaning positions can encourage your baby to turn from a breach or posterior position, into an anterior position.

These pregnancy ball exercises are a must if you want to increase your chances of giving birth naturally!

Hip Circles

Pregnant Woman Hip Circles Birthing Ball

  1. Sit on the ball, keeping your knees above your ankles.
  2. Circle your hips in a clockwise direction and feel the release in tension.
  3. Lean slightly forwards and backwards as you move through the motion.
  4. Switch direction.
  5. Repeat motion as many times necessary, or until you begin to feel any signs of tiredness.

Cat/Cow Pelvic Tilts

Cat Cow Tilt Birth Ball

Pelvic Tilt Birthing Exercise

  1. Sit on the ball, keeping your knees above your ankles.
  2. Place your fingers on the front of the ball. Let the ball roll you forwards and roll you backwards.
  3. Push your abdomen in and out, working in the opposite direction to the ball.
  4. Exhale as you draw your abs in, inhale as you release your abs out.
  5. Repeat motion as many times necessary, or until you begin to feel any signs of tiredness.

Rocking Ball Hug

Rocking Ball Hug Pregnancy Exercise

  1. Kneel in front of your ball with your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Reach right over the ball, resting your upper and lower arm on the ball.
  3. Rest your chest on the front of the ball. Hand on the back of the ball.
  4. Keep your head straight and facing forward. Gently rock back and forwards, or left and right.
  5. Shift your weight through your glutes as you move through the motion and release that tension.
  6. Repeat motion as many times necessary, or until you begin to feel any signs of tiredness.
Unlock the benefits of the BABYGO birthing ball

Top Tip

Try making these upright and forward-leaning positions part of your daily routine!

Encourage your baby to switch around into a position whereby their back is facing towards your belly and their head towards your birth canal.

And remember, gently bouncing on the birthing ball can help to dilate your cervix naturally!

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