Using a Birthing Ball for Fitness
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Birthing balls have been used for many years to encourage a healthy pregnancy and as an aid during labour. A birthing ball helps the mother to maintain a good posture while developing strong muscles to support the spine.
If you decide to buy a birthing ball, don't go for the cheapest you can find - you need to make sure that it will support 250lbs to 300lbs and that it will not pop if it comes into contact with a sharp object.
Use the birthing ball as your primary chair during pregnancy when watching TV or tapping away on your laptop. Sitting in a supported squatting position brings the spine into alignment and opens the pelvis.
How to exercise with a birthing ball
Before you begin you need to make sure that you have the correct size birthing ball for your height. Birthing balls range in size from 55cm to 75cm in diameter. The correct size ball for you will mean that your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle when seated. Here are some birthing ball exercises:
In a kneeling position with the birthing ball in front of you, place your elbows and forearms on the ball, slowly roll the ball away from you and then back again using the muscles in your tummy to control it. Keep your back straight, do not arch it or let it drop.
Rock and Sway
Sit on the ball with your feet hip-width apart and rock back and forth or sway from side to side on your ball. This can be a very relaxing exercise, particularly when labour begins.
No the birthing ball isn't a space hopper! Just bouncing gently on the birthing ball can be great exercise for your legs and pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic Floor Exercise
Sitting on your birthing ball, focus on your pelvic floor and imagine you are trying to stop the flow when weeing; pelvic floor exercises can be really important.
The birthing ball during labour
Using a birthing ball during labour can mean the difference between a natural labour with pain relief or a natural labour without, if you know how to use the ball most effectively.
Sitting on the birthing ball with feet hip-width apart, when you feel a contraction coming rock backwards and forwards until the contraction finishes. Not only is this a relaxing motion for you, it also helps you to channel your energy and keep focus.
Another position to try is kneeling on the floor with the ball in front of you, your head and chest resting on the ball. As the contraction begins, hug the ball into your chest and again rock backwards and forwards then rest back on your heels. In this position your birth partner or midwife can also rub your back to alleviate some pain.