I was a bit sceptical when someone suggested using a birthing ball towards the end of pregnancy. Apparently it can help to get the baby into the right position and help to make you feel a bit more comfortable when sitting down due to improving your posture (rather than slouching on a couch). Birthing Balls come in a variety of sizes, if you are under 5ft5 it is suggested that you get a 55cm ball, if you are over, it is suggested you get a 65cm ball. You can buy birthing balls or exercise balls from a variety of retailers and as long as you make sure it is a non-burst ball in my opinion they are all fairly similar. I didn't want to spend too much so bought one from Amazon for around £14. It also came with a pump which was useful (and saved my husband huffing and puffing!).
== My Opinion==
I was initially worried that the ball wouldn't take my weight and would burst so I felt nervous about sitting on it. I have since heard that the balls are pressure tested and take weights up to 50stone so I have quite a way to go before I get there! The non-burst technology in the ball means that if it punctures, it will release the air slowly rather than just bang and end up ditching you onto the floor. Once I'd read those things I felt a bit more confident about sitting on the ball. As I mentioned I was very sceptical about the ball because let's face it - they don't look comfortable to sit on do they?! However, I find it difficult to sit/slouch on the couch and get comfortable, particularly if the baby is lodged in my ribs somewhere. Sitting on the balls makes me sit up straight and forces you to sit with your legs apart in a very unladylike manner, however this then gives you much better posture. I'm still not convinced that the ball helps to get the baby into the right position but one thing I am sure of is that it is a damn sight comfier than sitting on the couch or the floor or any of the other weird positions I've been sitting in the last few weeks. The bounce within the ball seems to relieve pressure on my back and on my hips which is a huge benefit for me. If it helps to get the baby into the right position then that is great too but I'm primarily reviewing it here for comfort purposes. You are also advised to rock on the ball gently to exercise your hips, back and pelvis and I've done some of that whilst watching the TV and it feels quite nice to give those muscles a stretch.
Finally, the birthing ball can be used during the first stage of labour and I plan to use mine (or at least one at the hospital) to try and get into some comfortable positions (also apparently if you bounce on it it can induce labour - I'm yet to try this!!!!). However, this is not the primary reason for purchasing the ball, I purchased it for comfort whilst at home and it certainly provides that as a welcome relief from a slouchy couch. All the rest of the benefits (baby in right position, using it in labour) are all added bonuses as far as I'm concerned. I feel like I've got my money's worth out of this product already.
In summary, I highly recommend the birthing balls, make sure you get the right size for you and make sure you get non-burst material (I'm sure most of them are). If you are in the latter weeks of pregnancy I really recommend the birthing ball to provide a nice bit of comfort for you.
When i was around the middle of my pregnancy i decided to try and follow some rules to do with exercise and pregnancy, (as i had been quite lazy up to then), so decided to buy a pregnancy ball for the house.
The ball was cheap to purchase considering how useful it was and how much i ended up using it throughout.
When you have a huge bump and first sit on it its like a sign of relief as everything else you sit on is VERY uncomfortable to you mainly because any position on the sofa makes the baby dig into your ribs.
So i started to follow some useful videos on youtube which showed some excercise rountines for using the ball and being pregnant, and i started to really enjoy it.
When i was tyring to induce labour (i was 4 days late and getting frustrated), i heard that bouncing on it would do the trick, so i gave it a go, but nope they just come when they're ready no matter how much you try.
When i was finally in labour we didnt have enough time to deflate the ball to take it to the hospital so stupidly wanting MY ball my fiance ended up carrying it as well as the rest of the things we had to bring which was embarrasing. So i would recomend deflating defore the journey there, or just ask for their one.
During labour all women end up in some crazy alternative position just to ease the pain, and end up staying there untill pushing. With me, as soon as i sat on the ball thats where i stayed, rocking back and forth, whilst getting a back rub from my very helpful fiance! (for 4 hours!).
I had back labour, and i found that the ball helped take the pressure off my back so much and leaning forward helped too.
I was so happy when it was all over and thrilled to see the little present at the end, but i dont know what i would have done with out the ball, as lying there on the bed not being able to move was not my thing.
Please buy the birthing ball its well worth it believe me!
When pregnant with my first child I didn't really know how useful a birth ball would be, but after seeing one on Amazon for around £15.00 I decided I may as well try it as a lot of new mom's said they swore by them.
When it arrived the ball was all folded up in the box and had the pump. I thought it would take a while to pump it up but was pleasantly surprised when it went up within 2 minutes! You have to be careful not to blow it up too much otherwise it will be too hard and there is the danger it will try to pop if you bounce on it.
I had a bright green one and I will firstly admit is they do take up quite a bit of room as its not ideal to keep taking it down and blowing it up again and so it used to sit in the corner of our room while I wasn't using it, not the best feature!
However I started using it when I was around 8 1/2 months pregnant and I wish I used it sooner as I found the ball to be so much more comfortable when you sat on it then on the sofa. I also found it quite nice bouncing the ball as it almost felt like some of the weight way taking off me!
I never got to use the ball with the birth of my first child as I was taken straight into hospital. However with my daughter I did get to use it and I would highly recommend it. The bouncing really helped me to get through each contraction, I think this was because I was trying to concentrate on that. I also found it much more comfortable to be sat on it.
Overall I think that for £15.00 it was worth the money and would recommend it for any pregnant women out there!
This is a lovely product to help in pregnancy and also in labor. I was induced with my son and didn't really know what to expect, the same fear probably as most first time mums get. I started using the ball about a month before my due date and really enjoyed using it. Its good fun at that stage of pregnancy and a gentle way to excercise in the hope of making your labor a little easier. I was so disappointed when my plans for my more natural labor went out the window and had to be induced. However i was delighted to have been offered the use of a hospital ball when my contractions started. I found bouncing on the ball really relaxing and got into a good rythm excellent for timing contractions. Its the perfect height to place beside the hospital bed so you can lean over and support yourself. Also good if you need to be kept on a monitor. Overall brilliant product and my son now uses it as a giant football! Excellent price and widely available.
I had decided to have a home birth with my third child and looked at all sorts of different aids to help me through such as birthing pools , tens machine and I had every baby and maternity catalogue that was available and it was while reading of one these that I decided to buy the birth and exercise ball to help me get through the first stage of labour.
====What Is It====
Without wanting to be flippant it is a big rubber ball!, the birthing ones look very similar to the exercise balls that you can buy and I personally think that the gym ones are best kept for the gym and I recommend getting the actual birthing one, I know some people think that the gym ones are fine to use in a maternity sense but I found that for comfort and quality the maternity ones are best and importantly they are burst resistant..
The balls are made of a very tough material and the maternity ones have a lovely soft texture to them that means they don't feel like plastic and also means that you will not get stuck on them!
The ball is designed to be used as both a exercise and birthing aid so I will split the review to allow for both uses.
As any woman will tell you you can get rather uncomfortable when pregnant and even sitting can be uncomfortable and as for exercise well it's easier said than done.
You can easily do some gentle exercise by just gently moving up and down on the ball or gently moving your self around and it's gentle enough to be comfortable for both you an baby,
The most comfortable way to sit on the ball is to place yourself in centre with your feet hip width apart and keep your feet flat on the floor, this keeps you centred and gives you great balance.
Sitting on the ball will also help you to strengthen your lower back and this helps keep your pelvis better supported.
I found that from being about 6 months pregnant I actually used the ball every time I was sitting down, it replaced the sofa, kitchen chair and my office chair ( I should state that my office is at home as you may get strange looks carrying a big ball into your office!)
I carried my last baby very low and constantly felt a pressure and a pulling sensation but due to having the ball as soon as I sat on it the pressure used to ease and I used to just rock backwards and forwards sitting watching the TV.
If my back was sore I sometimes used to kneel on the floor and rest my chest and arms on the ball as this helped stretch my back and release some pressure.
I spent the last couple of months of my pregnancy sitting on the ball almost all the time, watching TV, working and eating and in fact I went into labour while on the ball! I was actually doing my nails on the coffee table while sitting on the ball when my first contraction hit and being the glamour puss that I am I did indeed finish my nails and breathed and gently bounced through the contractions until they were dry before getting my husband out of bed to call the midwife! What a trooper.
Most maternity wards will allow you to bring the ball in as a birthing aid and many actually have their own that you can use.
Obviously giving birth is a huge personal choice and everybody is different so I will just run through some of the positions that can help and tell you what helped me.
In the early stages the ball can be used in the sitting position for you to try to relax on and gently move, you can move in small circles or rock from side to side and back and forth which can help keep you calm and give you something focus on.
If you are sitting on the ball your partner can also easily rub your back or your neck if that helps to relax you also.
I also found that being on my knees in later stages of labour and leaning on the ball helped to ease my contractions and put me in a better place to push and as I was grabbing onto the ball I also found that it was really comforting.
I have to say that I used the ball from the very start of my labour and only let go when I was actually giving birth and afterwards I just got up on the sofa with my new little girl and had the ball under my legs and I was blissfully happy and comfortable.
====USING AFTER BIRTH====
I did use the ball after the birth although obviously not as much, I mainly used it while feeding but just keeping the ball under my legs as it allowed a really comforting position for my little girl and me.
I did use the ball just to do some gentle exercise after the birth just to get my strength back up and I do know many of my friends who have continued to use the ball as an exercise ball long after birth.
====EASE OF PUMPING UP AND DEFLATING====
The ball comes with a pump not unlike a bicycle pump and you just insert the pump into the valve and pump!, you need the ball to be firm think about the firmness of a space hopper and you are about right.
Deflating the ball is also easy, some do have a cap on that you can just release and let the air flow out and other types do not have a cap and you just need to squeeze the value and the air will come out, this can be time consuming so my husband used to sit on mine and it was down in no time.
As I used the ball all day and everyday I used to keep mine inflated all the time but they can take up space so it's personal choice.
====COST AND AVALIABLITY====
The balls usually come in 2 different sizes depending on your height up to 5'8 and then above.
You can now get them in many different colours and they are priced from around £17.00 upwards and this cost usually includes the pump and some exercises for the ball.
You can get birth balls from places like Mothercare, Amazon and maternity specialists such as Blooming marvellous.
====WOULD I RECOMMENED IT?====
I can not recommend it enough, I found that it eases all my pregnancy niggles from allowing me to sit on the sofa and elevate my legs which stopped these swollen ankles to leaning on the ball and taking the pressure off my back and stomach and allowing me to sit in a comfortable position all the way through my pregnancy.
During the labour I really do believe that the ball kept me calm and comfortable and it allowed me to feel in control as I had something to focus on, lean on and grab on and put me in the best position for a comfortable birth.
While I was pregnant, I was advised to buy a birthing ball by both my National Childbirth Trust (NCT) yoga teacher and my physiotherapist whom I saw for help with pelvic girdle pain. I learnt that using a birthing ball can not only help during labour and birth, but also can alleviate some discomfort during pregnancy as well as encouraging the baby to turn into the optimal position for birth.
The important difference between a birthing ball and a normal exercise ball is that of size. Birthing balls need to be bigger to ensure that whilst sitting on it, your knees are lower than your hips when your feet are flat on the floor. A 65cm ball will be suitable for women of up to 5' 8'' (158cm) in height, and a 75cm ball will besuitable for women taller than this. The balls may be inflated more or less to ensure a good position i.e. inflate a 65cm ball more if you are taller.
This particular ball comes with a hand pump. I actually found it quite difficult to inflate as I was around 7 months pregnant when I got it and found it awkward to negotiate holding to ball and pumping at the same time. However, it was no problem for my husband to pump up.
Once you've pumped it up, you quickly pop in a stopper which is also included. To remove the stopper, a little plastic handle is provided to lever it out. You need to keep this somewhere safe so that you can deflate the ball once you've finished with it. I have now deflated mine, and I can store it easily (though I just can't get it back in the box it came from!).
I loved using my ball during pregnancy and during early labour. During each contraction, I found that kneeling against my ball and making a figure of eight pattern with my hips alleviated the pain and gave me something else to think about. There is a really useful NCT handout which can be seen on the web about how to use the ball during pregnancy and birth. There are also lots of tips and ideas if you type 'birthing ball positions' into a search engine.
The only bad things I can think about this ball are that it is difficult to fit in the car (for yoga sessions, or to take to hospital). We have a Ford Fiesta, and the 65cm ball only just fitted in. It is also difficult to carry about, especially when you have a huge bump!
I am really glad that someone bought me this ball for my baby shower and will be definitely using it again when I manage to persuade my husband to have another baby...
Birthing balls should be slightly larger than your standard exercise ball (a woman under 5"8 should use a 65cm one, over a 75cm one - a standard 55cm exercise ball will not provide the right positioning for any woman). Available from a range of retailers for £20 or thereabouts these are a must-have (later) pregnancy and labour accessory. Do buy one with a pump - in the later stages of pregnancy you begin to lose your puff somewhat (baby takes up your lung space in a way you can't really appreciate until you've experienced it) and your added mass is likely to mean that it does gradually deflate and need re-pumping occasionally!!
It's effectively a large bouncy ball that comes in a range of colours. Its only defining features are ribbing around the ball's circumference (I think these are intended to stop it rolling around too much) and the hole and white plastic plug necessary for inflation and deflation. Generally come in a range of pastel or metallic like colours. As I've said earlier, there are two sizes, both of which are likely to be slightly bigger than your standard exercise ball.
1. HEAD DOWN BABY
The reason that these are slightly bigger than your exercise ball is that it's necessary for your bottom / hips to be elevated above your knees. This position encourages baby to get into a head-down position, as necessary for a (erm sort of) trouble free labour. Knees above hips are liable to put baby into a transverse position. I was encouraged to get a birthing ball by my midwife as I suffered from a condition that meant I had excessive amniotic fluid, making it easier for baby to float around freely (and out of position). It was crucial, to avoid me spending my last few weeks of pregnancy in hospital, for baby to get head down and engage.
To add to my range of pregnancy-related conditions I suffered from very bad sciatica and was generally unable to get comfortable in the later stages of pregnancy (something most if not all pregnant women experience). Only two things gave me any comfort: the first of these was lying in the bath / going swimming, the second was the birthing ball. Clearly the ball was much more convenient at certain points than immersing myself in water: when I wanted to watch TV for instance! If I could've slept on this I would.....
3. PAIN RELIEF
The bouncing and rocking motion provided by the ball didn't exactly get rid of labour pains, but it definitely helped me deal with the early ones much better than lying flat on my back (and again had the advantage of ensuring gravity acted on baby.
I was miserable in the last month or two of my pregnancy. I was tired and uncomfortable. I knew pregnancy was never going to be a walk in the park but this was ridiculous. I suffered from an awful bad back and ached from the various positions I had slept in the night (though my pregnancy pillow remedied that somewhat).
My midwife (after listening to me moan about my discomfort) suggested a birthing ball. I thought she was crazy. I was in enough pain and discomfort without adding the humiliation of falling flat on my bum from a ball! But she assured me that they really did work. I wasn't convinced. My husband was and he went off and bought one for me at the pricely sum of £18.00. He was fed up of me being in discomfort (and rightly so considering he had half caused it!) and did think it would help.
Birthing balls come flat packed and need to be pumped up. At the time, we did not have an electric pump so my husband sat and pumped it up with the little hand pump it came with. This took a little while as you do need to make sure it is blown up to full capacity otherwise it is just pointless.
My ball was a shiny blue like the one in the picture and it reminded me of a space hopped but without the handles. My main concern when looking at it was how I was going to balance myself on it. I am clumsy at the best of times (though strangely enough not when I am ice skating) and this was just a receipe for disaster for me, especially being pregnant and no longer being able to see my feet.
My husband held the ball in place while I positioned myself on to it. It wobbled about a bit but luckily my husband was there to hold it steady. When I finally managed to sit down without fear of falling off, I found that it was quite comfortable. For a while, I did not attempt bouncing on it - I was only happy on it whilst my feet were still on the floor!
I do think it helped with the way my daughter was positioned when she was in the belly. The midwife advised that in the last month of pregnancy the birthing ball would help get her into the correct position for birth. She told me that if you slouch on the sofa with your knees positioned above your hips then it leaves you running the risk of having your baby turn so that your back is grinding against the baby's back which will make labour alot more painful.
I did find that relaxing on the ball and rolling backwards and forwards on it (when I got my confidence up) did ease my back ache which was its sole purpose for me. I didn't use the ball whilst in labour so cannot comment on it in that instance but I do wonder if it would have made my labour less painful.
All in all, a great product. I do think you can use a gym ball instead of a birthing ball as they are both exactly the same - my Pineapple exercise ball is the sam size and material as my birthing one - and exercise balls come cheaper too. I highly recommend using one and maybe listening to your husband/boyfriend/partner should they suggest getting one!
Whilst pregnant with my third child I was very uncomfortable and suffered with a very bad back so my midwife suggested the birthing exercise ball and I must say I wasn't keen on the idea (I was convinced I would fall off) however my husband thought it was a great idea and purchased one for me.
After he spent quite a while pumping it up for me, I waited until I was on my own and had a go, and I must say it was the most comfortable I had been since I had started to show, in think it must distribute my weight in a better way than sitting on a chair because my back felt a lot better almost straight away.
When you sit on it you have no choice but to have good posture because if you don't you will fall off which as we know is very important for pregnant women and helps strengthen your muscles ready for labour.
When I was in labour the whole way through I had a horrible heavy and pushing down sensation and it hurt me to sit down but if I tried to lie down I was in agony with my back, so I had a bounce on my ball it was the only way I could get even remotely comfortable.
I would highly recommend this type of ball for all pregnant women it is amazing that such a simple thing can have helped me feel so much better.
The only problem with it is that it is very big and not easy to put away, although I did use it most days anyway so it wasn't a big problem.
I have used a birth/exercise ball throughout each of my 3 pregnancies.
Most exercise/birthing balls are approx 2.5 foot in diameter. They come flat packed with a pump, ready to inflate.
They inflate quickly and easily with very little effort required. Once fully inflated they have a secure valve to ensure that they do not start to deflate when under pressure.
The balls are made of a very thick type of plastic. The surface of the material makes them very easy to clean. You can either give them a wipe down with a damp cloth, or even a quick hose down outside if necessary.
When pregnant, you can sit astride the ball and roll/rock your hips in order to open up your pelvis and help the baby move down into a good position. Also, when trying to get labour started, you can bounce on the ball to try and get things moving (although this never worked for me!)
I used my ball from about the 4th month of pregnancy onwards - partly because I suffered from SPD (where the pelvic bones begin to separate) and sitting on the ball was the only way I could get comfortable. I would sit on it to watch tv, read a book or occassionally, eat my dinner!
The ball was also great to lean on later on in pregnany when the weight of the baby on your internal organs starts to get really uncomfortable. By kneeling down and leaning over the ball you take all the pressure off your internal organs - basically giving your insides a bit of a rest.
With my 3rd child I actually spent the whole of my labour and gave birth whilst leaning over the birthing ball. It became my best friend!
All of my babies were born easily and with no intervention and I personally think that using a birth ball had a lot to do with this as they were all well positioned at the start of labour.
My birthing ball was originally an exercise ball and has now been returned to it's rightful owner - my husband - who is using it for his workouts once more, so it has not gone to waste.
Ours cost around £10 and it has been worth every penny. I would recommend investing in one of these balls to anyone who was pregnant.
I bought my 'swiss ball' during my first pregnancy and used it along side the preggi-bellies (PB) DVD work out (Australian). They quote that using this ball in their workout;
"International research has shown:
- Decreased maternal weight gain
- Easier, shorter and less complicated labour
- Better than average placental growth improving supply of glucose and oxygen to the baby.
- Improved neuro-development at birth and through first 5 years of life.
- Improved rate of recovery post birth."
I personally felt heaps better once I began using the ball alongside the PB exercise regime, my lower back pain decreased, I felt stronger, fitter and had a normal delivery in 4.5 hours! I was so impressed that I went on to use the ball in my second pregnancy and my second labour was 3 hours! My babies were 9.1 and 9.15 respectively, both fit and healthy. I lost all my pre pregnancy weight with 7 weeks, so definitely recommend this ball alongside a carefully planned exercise regime.
I used a foot pump to inflate mine and only occasionally topped it up.
They are also great for other members of the family, my husband has used it when he had a bad back and my eldest daughter uses it as a toy.
I recently borrowed a birth ball and was very sceptical as to why you would want to bounce around your living room on a ball whilst in the later stages of pregnancy. I could not see that it would in any way be comfortable, practical or even safe. Anyway, my friend dropped it off one day and my husband and I set about inflating what is essentially a large exercise ball made of rubber. It didn't take long to pump it up with a foot pump and soon my husband was bouncing around the room and seeing how long he could balance without his hands or feet touching the ground. He was very disappointed with my lack of enthusiasm to have balancing competitions!
Anyway, I nervously decided I had to at least try the ball out, so with much trepidation I ease myself down onto the ball. After 5 or so minutes I was very surprised at just how comfortable I was. I have recently started getting lots of pain in my back and tailbone, and have found that the ball allows me to distribute weight in different ways than you can do with a normal chair, and it's more comfortable to do so because the ball is softer than a chair. With feet flat on the ground I am forced to sit with a straighter back than I would on a sofa. After just a week I am thrilled with the birthing ball and wouldn't hesitate to buy one for future pregnancies.
I've been told that the motion created from bouncing on the ball encourages babies to get into a head down position and because you can roll and rotate your hips on the ball it will jiggle the baby further into the pelvis in the final weeks of pregnancy. I'm not yet far enough along to know whether this is true but I will continue to bounce away to find out, because if nothing else it's comfortable. Birthing balls are also used during labour either to bounce on, which some women find help with the pain, or to enable the mother to access different positions.
As for negatives, the only slight issue is that the ball need a little more air added every 3 or 4 days as it seems to seep out a little. It's getting a fair work out though so am not all that surprised that a little air would escape. My other slight problem is that the baby enjoys bouncing so much that he goes completely nuts whenever I get off the ball, like he's throwing a little tantrum inside me! Overall I love the birthing ball and would recommend them to all the preggy ladies out there.
Edited to add: This time 2 weeks ago the birthing ball got a serious workout whilst I was in labour. I found sitting on the ball was the only position I was anywhere near comfortable in. I also spent a fair bit of time on all fours, leaning on the ball. I have also used the ball postnatally as I have had a lot of lower back pain and just cannot get comfortable on the sofa.
I purchased one of these balls when pregnant, they can be bought from many different places and a gym ball is just the same as a birthing ball but around half the price! Mine was bright pink and cost me £10 from Avon but they can be bought from as little as £4.99 from Argos. They do need to be pumped up though with a hand or electric pump and do take a while if using a hand pump.
I found the ball very useful when i was pregnant for sitting on and leaning over, it is very hard to get comfortable when pregnant and this gave me something supportive and comfortable to use. I could often be found bouncing away on my ball in front of the telly!
In the final trimester of pregnancy it is important to have good posture so your baby is in an optimal birthing position. If you slouch or sit on a sofa where your knees are above your hips baby will usually turn so its back is against your back is this is most comfortable for him/her. The weeks leading up to your due date you should try to keep your knees lower than your hips which the ball is great for.
During labour the ball is great, it offers a good support to try a variety of positions and keep you active in labour. I used it to lean over and rock which really helped with my contractions.
I think this is an essential purchase for a pregnant woman and is great value for money. They are quite large though so you will need somewhere to keep it!
I'm currently 35weeks pregnant and bought this ball as I was advised that it's great for sitting on if you can't get comfy on a normal chair. I was abit cautious of sitting on it as i have quite a big bump i had the image of falling off!
I plucked up the courage and sat on it and wow, it's so comfy. I now sit on it every night while watching tv, being online and even eating tea!
Another thing they are good for is getting your baby into position when you are getting closer to your due date. I spoke to my midwife as my baby was breech and she said doing a simple thing as sitting on the ball could help to turn baby around.
It's also good for rolling about on as then you can do a little gentle exercise to help prepare your body for labour.
The only down side is that for some reason ours didn't come with a pump but it was a giggle watching my husband blow it up with his lungs!!
Would definately recommend this to any pregnant woman, you can also use them in the hospital and at home during labour. Very useful!
I purchased a gym ball when i was around 20wks, and it was the most comfy thing to sit on specially when you get bigger, can be a bit nerving when you first sit on it but once you get in the right position it is then very easy to sit on.
I spent a lot of time sat at my computer chatting and this was my seat while there and it was great it didn't help make her engage as she was my 3rd so there wasn't much chance in that but was the best seat i could of wished for through out my pregnancy.
When i did go in to labour i sat on the ball as this is meant to help open the pelvis but after a while and the further on i got it hurt to sit on it so was abandoned. . .
If you want some comfort i would recommend you getting a ball and once not being used you just deflate and store away.
Essential for practising birth positions and a good support for home births.