Using a birthing ball to induce labour is nothing new, but it is rapidly becoming the most popular and healthiest option for new mummies to be.
Why? Its drug-free, which is extremely important for the health and well being of your baby, whilst specific exercises can help accelerate your baby's descent down the birth canal.
How does a Birthing Ball Help to Bring on Labour?
The last couple of weeks in pregnancy can be very taxing and uncomfortable, so how can I use a birthing ball to help bring on labour?
Well the chances are, some of the discomfort you are feeling, is likely caused by your baby, not being in an optimal foetal position for your labour to begin.
Targeted movements and exercises can help persuade your baby to move into an optimal foetal position ready for birth, and also help a breech baby (born bottom first) come out normally (head first).
And if you’re wondering how to use a birthing ball to break your waters?
Well once your baby has moved into an optimal foetal position, simple techniques on the ball will help ease your little one down the birth canal. The pressure of your baby’s head will then help naturally break your water and dilate your cervix.
Using a Birthing Ball to Help Induce Labour Has Other Benefits Too
Using a birthing ball to help induce labour has other benefits too. Specific positions and certain movements can help:
- Increase blood flow to the uterus and placenta - as well as the baby
- Act as a counter-pressure to the perineum and thighs
- Loosen up pelvic and lower back muscles to aid in a smoother delivery
- Position the baby properly in the foetus minimising the chancing of a breech baby birth
- Lower stress and anxiety levels
- Take your mind off the pain you’re experience from your contractions.
Birthing Ball Techniques to Help Your Baby Drop
Birthing ball techniques to help your baby drop are nothing new. Midwives have been relying on birthing balls for years, keeping soon-to-be-mums, as comfortable as possible during those painful hours of labour.
Recent studies have now found that pregnant ladies who sit on a birthing ball at home, around the start of their third trimester, should expect to see labour progressing much faster.
So why not give it a go yourself? From knowing how to bounce on a birthing ball, to techniques a little more advanced, here’s 7 easy ways to induce labour at home with a birthing ball.
7 Easy Ways to Induce Labour on a Birthing Ball
Start by sitting on the birthing ball with your knees slightly lower than your hips. If you need any additional support or balancing, use a sturdy piece of furniture or spotter.
Now gently bounce up and down on the birthing ball. Rest your hands on top of your thighs or the sides of your belly.
Focus on your breathing, keep your shoulders back and your spine straight. Bounce slowly with safety in mind and increase your level of bouncing if you feel comfortable and confident in doing so.
Another birthing ball movement to induce labour is the rocking motion.
Sit on the pregnancy ball while placing your legs on either side. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and facing outward in order to maintain optimal balance.
Now carefully and very slowly rock back and forth – putting the weight on your tailbone first and then your pelvic region.
Rocking will help alleviate the pressure that’s experienced around the tailbone area during pregnancy. It will also loosen up the pelvic muscles in order to better prime your body for labor.
The Squat Position
Stand in an upright position and rotate your feet outward to about a 45 degree angle. Carefully lower yourself into a typical squatting position while positioning your legs about shoulder width apart. Place the maternity yoga ball out in front of you, grabbing it with both hands to keep your balance.
Suck in and slightly flex your abdominal muscles while keeping your back as straight as possible. Visualise a string that is attached to your head and that someone is using it to pull you upwards. Squat back into a standing position.
Squats can reduce labor times quite noticeably as the natural force of the gravity loosens and opens up the pelvic area – giving your baby more room to smoothly manoeuvre down the birth canal.
Squat Position Variation (Advanced)
Don’t be afraid to take it a step further. Start by placing your BABYGO pregnancy ball between a solid wall and your lower lumbar region. As you squat down using the ball as a natural support, let your legs and knees open up, as they normally do when you go into a squatting position.
Go as far down as you can using the ball as a rolling support, as long as you don’t feel any pain or discomfort. Focus on your breathing, brace your core and keep yourself steady. Gently move back up and straighten your legs. Repeat for a few reps.
The Figure Eight
Take a seating position on your bouncing labour ball and move your hips around in a figure eight position, first clockwise and then counter-clockwise.
Do the movement in a few sets of 10 reps each. Take a break then repeat for a few more minutes. This particular birthing ball technique will not only loosen up you lower back and pelvic muscles but also prepare your hips better for childbirth.
The “Reaching V” Motion
Sit on the ground with your back straight. Open your legs until they form a “V”. Place the bouncing ball between your legs and keep your hands on top.
Now gradually ‘walk the ball out’ toward your feet but stop just as you start to feel a stretch in your legs. Hold in this position for a few seconds and then walk it back toward your body.
Repeating this movement stretches your hips and legs which in turn help to open up the pelvic muscles and help induce labour.
The Forward Lean
Although a very basic birthing ball exercise, sometimes, a simple motion like leaning forward on your maternity yoga ball can give your back a much needed rest. Leaning forward takes the stress off your back which, as a pregnant woman, feels nothing short of amazing.
Kneel forward by placing your elbows on the bouncing ball and keeping your knees slight open as you feel your lower back relaxing.
All in all, the above birthing ball positions will help you induce labour while also reducing the pains and discomfort associated with going into labour.
Out of all the movements discussed above, perhaps gentle bouncing, rocking back and forth and the squat are the three most common movements that pregnant women start off with. Give them a go, and once you’re ready, go ahead and try out the other yoga ball positions to induce labor.