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Birthing Ball 101

Maybe you’ve used an exercise ball before -- in the gym or as a fun alternative to a chair in your office. Birthing balls are basically the same thing, though they’re a little bigger and have an anti-slip surface. Some are peanut-shaped. To determine the right size, make sure that when you sit on the ball, your feet lay flat on the floor. If you’re on your tippy-toes or if your knees are higher than your stomach, it’s too big or small. If you’re trying out a ball for the first time, get some support from your partner or a friend while you figure out your balance.

Many women find that birthing balls help relieve back and abdominal pain and stress during pregnancy and while preparing for labor. Plus, they can support easier labor and delivery. While sitting on a flat chair or couch may be uncomfortable, a birthing ball can help relieve pressure in your lower body; open your pelvic muscles to support the baby’s descent; and relieve stress and pain during labor.

During pregnancy, you can sit on the birthing ball at work, while enjoying your favorite Netflix show at home, or whenever you want some comfort. 

During labor, a birthing ball can help ease pressure and help increase blood flow; just rock back and forth or side to side. You can also sit on the ball and lean forward onto a table or bed. If you’re close to popping and trying to induce labor, doing hip rotations, rocking, and light bouncing may also help support your labor.

After birth, sitting may not be the comfiest thing, given all of the trauma you’ve experienced down there, so using a birthing ball (and deflating it a little) can give you a soft place to land your tooshie. You can also use a birthing ball to help recover postpartum. Bouncing can help strengthen your legs and rotating your hips on the ball can help strengthen your core.