THEY’RE NOT JUST FOR YOGA!
INDUCING LABOR WITH A BIRTHING BALL
It's Time To Dilate Ladies
You know that big, bouncy ball you see rolling all over your pilates studio, the same one your co-worker uses instead of a chair, to “fix her posture”? Turns out that it may be able to help pregnant mamas have a much easier labor, delivery, and postpartum experience!
The last weeks of pregnancy are oftentimes uncomfortable. Patience is a virtue- that not many pregnant women possess, especially after 9 months of pregnancy! Most mamas reach the point of asking themselves, “What can I do to get this baby to come?”
With swollen feet, an achy back, acid reflux and sleepless nights- who could blame you? Your due date is in sight, and your hospital bag is packed and ready to go.
Now all you need are those contractions...
“WHY SHOULD I USE A BIRTHING BALL TO DILATE?”
For centuries, midwives and doulas have been singing the praises of birthing balls, specifically how they can be used to help induce a woman, and keep her as comfortable as possible during what will inevitably be several hours of labor.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research established that using a birthing ball during labor will significantly reduce pain during labor. Birthing balls have ALSO been proven to help speed up dilation of the cervix, and aid in moving the baby down into the pelvis, in preparation for birth.
Your birth ball also has the potential to lower some of the stress and anxiety you might be feeling, since you’ll have something else- balancing yourself on top of the ball- to think about, instead of the pain of your contractions.
If your water breaks, it’s still safe to use your birth ball. Just be sure to cover it with an absorbent pad or towel.
EXERCISES TO INDUCE LABOR & DILATE
It’s always advised that you should speak to your obstetrician (or midwife) prior to attempting to induce labor. Generally speaking, between 39-41 weeks gestation is the appropriate time to start trying to induce labor at home.
Studies show that if mama begins using the birthing ball for inducing labor right around the beginning of the last trimester, labor may progress much more quickly!
It has also been proven that gravity works naturally to help start labor, and keep it progressing. Women who lie flat have a much higher incidence rate for cesarean delivery.
Here are a few of the recommended ways to induce labor at home, using your birthing ball:
Before giving birth, your baby’s head must move into the proper position. Gently bouncing on the ball will help your baby to move down the birth canal, and into that proper position.
1. Sit on the birthing ball, keeping your knees level with your hips. Use a spotter or a sturdy piece of furniture to hold onto if you need additional support for balancing.
2. Gently bounce up and down, allowing your hands to rest on the sides of your belly, or on the tops of your thighs.
You can increase the level of your bouncing as you feel comfortable, and most importantly- safe! Keep your spine straight, and your shoulders back. Remember to focus on your breathing!
1. Sit on your birthing ball, keeping your legs on either side of the ball.
2. Spread your feet shoulder width apart, while positioning your feet facing out, to help keep your balance.
3. Slowly (carefully) rock backwards and forwards, putting the weight first on your tailbone and then your pelvic area.
Rocking helps to relieve the pressure on your tailbone, and helps loosen the pelvic muscles and helps prepare your body to go into labor.
1. While seated on your birthing ball, slowly make figure-8’s with your hips in a circular motion. Try one way for a few figure-8’s, then the other way, and so on.
2. Do this exercise in sets of 10. This helps prepare your hips for childbirth, and loosen your back muscles.
1. Standing in an upright position, rotate your feet outward. Slowly lower yourself into a squatting position, keeping your legs shoulder-width apart. Place the birth ball in front of you, and using both hands, allow it to help you keep your balance.
2. Draw in your abdominal muscles and make sure to keep your back straight. Imagine that there is a string on top of your head, and someone above you is pulling it upwards.
Squats allow the force of gravity to help open your pelvis, which gives baby more room to descend further into the birth canal. This helps to kick-start labor. Squats have even been known to reduce labor times.
1. Place your birthing ball between your lower back and a solid wall or steady surface. Open your legs and slowly move into a squatting position, using the ball as support.
2. Bend your legs and gently roll downwards, as far as you can go without hurting yourself.
3. Concentrate on your breathing and steadying yourself. Slowly move back up into the squatting position and repeat.
1. Sitting on the ground, open your legs so they form a “V”. Place the ball between your legs, hands on top.
2. Slowly walk the ball out towards your feet, until you feel a stretch in your legs. Hold for a few seconds and walk it back towards your body.
3. Repeat this as often as you’d like to stretch your legs and hips, and open up your pelvic muscles to help induce labor.
BE AS PATIENT AS PREGNANTLY POSSIBLE
As they say, “babies come when they are ready,” so having good nutrition and blood flow helps get them ready faster. It can also reduce the chances of complications during labor and delivery.
As always, make sure that you feel confident on your birthing ball before you try any new exercises.
If you plan on using a yoga ball for inducing labor, or for exercise during your pregnancy, here are some helpful tips:
Make sure you get an okay for exercise from your doctor or midwife
Make sure to get the right size for your height. Having the right size birthing ball is very important, one size does not fit all. If you are 5’8” or under, opt for the 65cm ball. If you’re 5’9” or taller, choose the 75cm option.
If you are near the end of your pregnancy, or already in labor, and there is a chance your water might break, so make sure you cover your birth ball with a towel or waterproof pad.
Remain bare-footed as much as possible. This will keep you from sliding around while seated, and allow you to have more control.