A birthing ball is quite a familiar sight in birthing centres or pictures off the internet that show smiling pregnant women stretching luxuriously while sitting comfortably. Cliché as the imagery may be, in reality birthing balls are that comfortable and their range of use goes beyond just sitting on them.
So, what can you do with a birthing ball?
Sit on it
One of the first and easiest things to do with a birthing ball is to simply sit on it. Beginning on approximately the 5th or 6th month of your wonderful pregnancy, when the bump becomes more prominent and it starts interfering with your usual range of movement, sitting on the ball can save you the pain and frustration of stiff or overstretched hips. Choosing a ball suitable for your body type ensures maximum benefit, as every time you sit your knees will drop naturally lower than your hips, keeping this way your spine long and straight, your hips neutral and your bump free.
Once you’re comfortably sat on the birthing ball, the first thing you might feel like doing is rotating your pelvis. This is an excellent exercise to mobilise your spine, gently massage the hips, gradually open the pelvis and very importantly connect with your pelvic floor. Really, the importance of connecting with your pelvic floor at all times but especially during pregnancy can’t be stressed enough. With all the pushing you will probably be doing, you will need some strong pelvic support in order to help your organs return back to their pre-pregnancy and pre-birth place. Going back and forth as well is also a great way to achieve most of the above with the added benefit of giving your legs and toes a stretch while working gently on maintaining your balance. Win-win!
After you’ve addressed the pelvis, why not stretch your arms in Garudasana (eagle pose) to open and release the upper back, or in Gomukhasana (cow face pose), to stretch the shoulders and open the chest wide? And you can still keep rocking that pelvis!
Lean on it against the wall!
This is for many the best, most ingenious use of the ball. Standing up, place the ball against the wall and then bring your back to it, holding the ball in place with your body. Here, depending on how you feel and what your aims are, you can simply drop your head back for a sense of release and relaxation, you can roll your back up and down for a little back massage or you can bring the ball a bit lower on your back and do your squats. There is no end to what you can do, you only need to find time to explore and see what feels good for your body!
Bounce, bounce baby!
For the big day, the ball is heaven sent. All the pressure that’s coming to your pelvis may feel a bit too much to take and with emotions running high, it may affect your experience in a less than desirable way. Using the ball to simply bounce on can counteract the force of the downward movement and give you a sense of balance and relief. And, don’t worry, it’s not pushing the baby back in, it only helps you to stay more positive, relaxed and able to go with the flow. Plus, it reminds you of that all-important pelvic floor that you will soon be using quite vigorously!
Hopefully, you have seen what a great and helpful tool a birthing ball can be. With a small investment (decent quality ones starting at just £8-10) you get massive benefits. So, don’t hesitate, get on your ball today and bounce, baby, bounce!