The Birth Ball: A Labouring Goddesses Best Friend?

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Typical Birthing BallImage via Wikipedia
I have often seen imagines of labouring women bouncing on big exercise balls and wondered exactly how they help during labour.

In planning my home birth, I had put 'birth ball' on my list of supplies but quickly realized I had no idea why or how I was going to use it!  Seeing it on birth videos and hearing how helpful it was is all good and everything, but would it really be useful to me if I had no clue what it is supposed to accomplish?!  Here is what I learned....

A birth ball is soft yet firm, so it is a comfortable place to sit during labour while offering support to the pelvic region.  Also, the fact that it forces better posture helps straining muscles.  As you sit, you are free to rock your hips and body and move rhythmically to relieve the intense feelings of labour.  Being upright is an optimal position for the second stage of labour and the birth ball facilitates the position effectively while helping the pelvis to open.

A birth ball accommodates a variety of comfortable positions for labour and delivery.  Some recommended positions are sitting or squatting on the ball, kneeling while resting head or torso on the ball, leaning on the ball while standing and squatting with the ball resting between back and wall.  Any way you use it though, a birth ball should make movement just a little bit easier.

Once I knew why it helps, it was time to ask around and see how it helps.  I called upon friend and fellow pregnant Goddess Mandi Taylor to answer this question for me...

"I started using the birthing ball when I was 37 weeks pregnant. That was when my prodromal labor had started. My baby hadn’t dropped into position, killing my lungs. My mother suggested I used one of her ‘exercise balls’ as a birthing ball to see if I could help him in his descent. That night, after filling the ball, I spent 2 hours on it. With the first 30 minutes, I could feel him dropping. At the end of the 2 hours, I knew he had fully engaged. I brought the ball with me to the hospital when I was in active labor. I spent about 90% of my labor on that thing. I labored, in the hospital, for less than 4 hours before I started pushing. I pushed for 17 minutes and I was done! I will recommend a birthing ball to everyone and anyone and I give it credit for my easy labor and delivery! I can only imagine how much it will help this time around when I include a birthing pool."

I'm sold!!  And what a great point about the birthing pool that I had never considered.  Another great advantage of the birth ball is that it can follow you into the shower or birthing pool.  I received this tip via Twitter, "I bring out the birth ball in all the labors Im at. I used it a lot in my own. Hands & knees in the shower hugging the ball" (Apartment_Mama).  This was a great revelation for me as I plan on using water (in the shower and in the pool) as my main source of pain management.  Now I will having another aide that can follow me everywhere I need to go to provide me with even more support.

I bought my birth ball today, at a thrift shop, for $8 and I am currently sitting on it as I write this post.  Already, I feel the benefits as it takes pressure off my pelvis and eases my round ligament pain.  This is shaping up to be the best $8 I ever spent.


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