When you think of a birth ball it conjures up images of a Mum-to-be using it as a labour prop. In fact, the birth ball has many uses in pregnancy, labour and even after the birth of your little one.
To get used to using the ball always start off by placing your ball next to the wall or a sofa for support. Once you sit on it place your feet flat on the floor with your toes pointing towards the corners of the room and your heels wedged against the base of the ball. This ‘tripod-like’ position allows you to create balance and stability. Once you get used to the sensation of being on the ball you can be a bit more relaxed. Ideally the ball should be firm but have a little give. With the correct sized ball your hips will be slightly higher than your knees.
Using a birth ball may be the perfect seat at any stage of your pregnancy as it tends to be more comfortable than a regular chair or sofa and once you get used to it, it becomes a lot easier to get on an off. Some companies even encourage their employees – pregnant or not to use a ball in place of a desk chair.
By sitting on the ball, it allows your body to adopt the perfect posture, which is hugely beneficial to all especially the expectant Mum. Simply put, it helps relieve pressure on the lower back and strengthens the lower back muscles. Your pelvis is nicely supported and symmetrical as is your whole body.
Encourages Optimal Fetal Positioning
Regular use of the ball is thought to encourage the optimal fetal positioning. This is the ‘Left Occipito Anterior’ (LOA) position, meaning that the position of the baby’s back in relation to your back is towards your left side. You’ll always notice your Midwife/Obstetrician listen into your baby’s heart rate on the same side as the baby’s back!
As you sit there comfortably on the ball your pelvis will be in an abducted position which is a great way of opening the pelvic outlet to allow your baby to descend easily into the birth canal. I encourage Mums of all stages of pregnancy to use their ball for this reason alone.
Using your ball on a regular basis gives you a mini-workout. As you rock or bounce on it gently, your tummy and back muscles will be working hard to keep you upright which has the added advantage of protecting your upper body strength and balance.