Is Birthing Ball Safe During Pregnancy

Is a birthing ball safe during pregnancy? Yes, it is. In fact, a birthing ball can be used right away to help with your aches and pains and reduce the chances of some of the issues that come along with pregnancy. Is a birthing ball safe during pregnancy? Yes, it is. In fact, a birthing ball can be used right away to help with your aches and pains and reduce the chances of some of the issues that come along with pregnancy.

Exercising on a birthing ball in pregnancy can help to reduce any back pain you are experiencing and make it easier for you to move around. It can also help ease labour pain, reduce the pain of contractions (especially if you use it for a couple of months before you give birth), decrease anxiety and shorten the first stage of labour.

Using a birthing ball can also help you adopt different upright positions, which can help you to labour effectively. It may even shorten your labour by an hour or so.

What’s the difference between a birthing ball and a gym ball?

Birthing balls and gym balls are basically the same thing. Both can be made from anti-burst materials. This means they deflate slowly rather than with a bang if punctured. Make sure your ball is anti-burst, but keep sharp objects away from it, just in case. Don’t store it on rough surfaces or near heat like radiators, stoves and open fires.

Some birthing balls have a non-slip finish, which helps them to grip the floor. Most are latex-free and made of PVC but if you have a latex allergy, it’s worth making sure.

Always check the small print when you buy a ball. This is particularly true if you’re ordering a gym ball rather than a birthing ball. What you need is a ball that’s 65cm (26in) or 75cm (30in) in height when inflated. Some gym balls come up much smaller than you expect when you get them home.

What size birthing ball is right for me?

Your height will give a guide to the size of ball that will be right for you. Ideally, your knees should be about 10cm (4in) lower than your hips when you sit on it. As a general rule:

  • If you’re up to 1.73m (5ft 8in) in height, it’s best to get a 65cm ball.
  • If you’re taller than 1.73m (5ft 8in) then it’s best to get a 75cm ball.

A birthing ball will take your weight, whatever your size. Good quality birthing and gym balls are pressure-tested to support weights up to 300kg (about 47st).

As well as traditional round birthing balls, you can also buy peanut-shaped balls. These only roll one way rather than in all directions. They can be useful if you don’t feel secure sitting on a ball. These tend to be a little smaller and can help you get into squatting positions for labour.

You may need to buy a pump, as many balls don’t come with one. Inflate your ball so that it’s firm, but gives a little when you press on it. If the ball is too soft then it may not be as effective so do try to get the right size for you

You could use a pencil to make a mark on a door frame or wall so that you inflate it to the exact height that’s right for you. For example, if you’re under 1.63m (5ft 4in), you may find it more comfortable to inflate a 65cm (26in) ball to 60cm (24in) in height.

Balls tend to lose some air over time. You may need to top yours up to keep it at the correct height for sitting comfortably, with your knees below your hips. Don’t over-inflate your ball as you may find it hard to use correctly.

What if I’m using a birthing ball for the first time?

Place your ball on a carpet rather than a smooth floor. This will make it more stable. When you first sit on your birthing ball, it’s best to have someone with you to support the ball from behind you (especially in the later stages of pregnancy). This will give you a chance to get used to staying balanced on it. Make sure you’re wearing non-slip shoes or socks. Better still, go barefoot.

Place your feet flat on the floor, about 60cm (24in) apart, so you’ve got a good balance. Now place one hand on the ball and lower yourself to sit on it.

Once you’re comfortable, place your hands on your knees and try rocking your pelvis from side to side or back to front. Then, if you feel secure, have a little bounce!

If you feel too unsteady to rock or bounce on your own, hold on to whoever is with you. Alternatively, put a chair in front of you, facing away from you, and hold on to the back of it for support.

If you’re going to use your ball for exercise, make sure you have a clear area around you. Exercise in a slow and controlled way. Breathe normally, and stop if you feel any dizziness, pain or discomfort.

Best birthing positions

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Certain positions may help you have a quicker and easier labour and birth. Find out more.More labour and birth videos

How can I use my birthing ball during pregnancy?

You can use your birthing ball to:

Sit comfortably while you’re working or relaxing
You may find your ball much more comfortable, and easier to get on and off, than a hard chair or soft sofa.

Also, sitting on a birthing ball 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.

Get some gentle exercise
Using your birthing ball is a fun way to improve your posture and balance, and to exercise your tummy muscles. This helps your body to support the weight of your pregnancy. It can also protect your back, and help you get back into shape after you’ve given birth. Try:

  • Sitting on the ball and rocking your pelvis from side to side and front to back. When you do this, try to keep your shoulders still so the movement comes from your waist and below.
  • Rotating your hips clockwise then anti-clockwise.
  • Leaning over your ball from a kneeling position, then rocking your hips forward and back.

You may also want to try exercising your pelvic floor while sitting on your birthing ball. It can be easier to feel what is happening and you’ll also be working your lower tummy muscles at the same time.

Help change the position of your baby in late pregnancy
If your baby is in a posterior (back-to-back) position, adopting upright, forward-leaning positions may encourage him to switch around.

Try getting on to your knees and leaning forward over your ball. This may encourage your baby’s back to swing forward so he’s in an anterior position, with his back towards your bump. Although your baby may not stay that way until you go into labour, it may give you some temporary relief from backache.

Practise positions for labour
If you try out different positions for labour while you’re still pregnant, you’ll know how they feel and discover which ones are more comfortable for you.

How can I use my birthing ball during labour?

It’s best to practise using the ball before you go into labour so you feel comfortable and safe using it.

Some midwives recommend a combination of birthing ball and TENS to help women cope at home in early labour.

You may find you instinctively sway and rock in rhythm with your contractions , and a birthing ball gives great support for this.

Ways to use your birth ball during labour include:

Sitting astride the ball and rocking your pelvis from side to side or back and forth.

Leaning on your birthing ball from a kneeling position on the floor.

Getting into a hands-and-knees position by hugging your birthing ball and lifting your bottom up from a kneeling position. You can then rock your pelvis from side to side.

Leaning over your ball from a standing position, with the ball on the bed or another surface.

All these techniques can be used during first-stage labour.

These positions also give your birth partner plenty of room to support you, massage you or apply pressure to your lower back during contractions.

During the pushing stage you’ll want to avoid sitting, so use the leaning or hands-and-knees positions. They will take the pressure off your bottom and give your baby lots of room to descend with each contraction and to be born.

Most hospital labour wards and birth centres have birthing balls for women to use during labour. If you’re particularly attached to your own birthing ball, take it along with you. You can clean it afterwards by washing it down with warm soapy water.

How can I use my birthing ball after my baby is born?

You may find your ball more comfortable to sit on than a hard chair, particularly if the area between your vagina and anus (perineum) is sore. Deflate it a little to make it softer and take the pressure off any stitches or bruising.

You could sit on your ball while you’re breastfeeding once you’ve got the hang of getting your baby latched on. It’s likely to be better for your posture than slumping on the sofa while feeding. Make sure you feel comfortable and steady on the ball before you try this though. Bouncing on your ball while cuddling your baby may soothe her.

You can use your birthing ball to exercise, using the same techniques described above in how can I use my birthing ball during pregnancy?

As your baby grows up, your birthing ball may become a favourite plaything. You may even want to use your ball instead of an office chair for desk work, as it’s so great for posture.

In short, you may find that your birthing ball becomes the best value-for-money bit of pregnancy kit you buy!

The birthing ball is safe and effective to use during pregnancy. However, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before you begin using the ball. Yes, birthing balls are safe during pregnancy. The mother can use the ball during the last trimester of pregnancy and during labor. It allows complete freedom of movement, exercises and stretching of joints and muscles.

The birthing ball is an essential pregnancy tool that can help with labor and even recovery. The birthing ball’s ergonomic shape allows the user to achieve a posture in which they’re upright, but leaning forward while using the ball. So, while it can’t be considered safe during pregnancy itself, it can actually encourage proper posture during pregnancy. Birthing balls are safe for pregnant women to use, as long as they are used for the right reasons and in a safe manner. They can help relieve back pain, prepare pelvic floor muscles for labor, and improve posture.

When Can You Use A Birthing Ball In Pregnancy

There are three main ways to use a birthing ball in pregnancy: upright and leaning against a wall, kneeling on the floor with your hands and knees resting on top of it, or sitting on it with your back supported by pillows. The great thing about using the birthing ball in pregnancy is the comfort it provides. Not only can this help you with your pelvic floor, it can also improve blood flow and relieve back pain.

A birthing ball is a fitness ball that women can use to exercise during pregnancy. Regular use of a birthing ball can make the birthing process smooth and improve the chances of vaginal delivery. In this post, we tell you the benefits of doing birthing ball exercises during pregnancy.

You should use a birthing ball under expert guidance. Read on as we tell you about the birthing ball you should buy, the ideal size you should use, the right time to start using a birthing ball during pregnancy, and tips on using a birthing ball safely during pregnancy.

What Is A Birthing Ball?

A birthing ball or a birth ball is a big inflatable exercise ball made of rubber. It is a standard fitness ball that can be used by pregnant women for fitness during pregnancy and post pregnancy (1). The birthing ball is a safe and beneficial non-pharmacological technique to increase your chances of having a vaginal delivery.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Birthing Ball?

Here are a few potential benefits of using a birthing ball (2).

  • Eases back pain and improves your ability to move around.
  • Stimulates blood flow to the pelvic area, where the placenta and uterus lie
  • Offers counter-pressure to your perineum and thighs
  • Gives excellent support to your knees and ankles
  • Helps reduce spinal pressure
  • Can eases labor pain and reduce the duration of labor (3)
  • Can reduce the anxiety and pain from contractions
  • Helps open up the pelvic muscles
  • Helps you remain in an upright position, which works with gravity for efficient baby decent

Note that some people may feel dizzy or ill while using the ball. If you do, refrain from using it.

What Is The Difference Between A Birthing Ball And A Gym Ball?

Birthing balls and gym balls are almost similar and made of anti-burst materials, which means they only deflate slowly and not get punctured. However, there are a couple of differences between the two: birthing balls are bigger than gym balls, and they come with an anti-slip finish.

What Type Of Birth Ball Should You Buy?

Buy a birthing ball which meets the following criteria:

  • The size of the ball depends on your height (see the table below). When you sit on it, your feet should touch the floor properly
  • Take the one with anti-burst feature and an anti-slip finish; In any case, do not keep these exercise balls near sharp objects, rough surfaces, direct heat generators such as heaters, radiators, blowers, open fires and stoves.
  • Should be able to bear your weight
  • Choose from a reputed brand so that you can be sure of its quality
  • It should be pressure-tested and take up to 300kg weight

What Is The Ideal Size Of A Birthing Ball?

The ideal size depends on your height, as mentioned in the table below.

Less than 5’2”45cm
5’2” – 5’8”55cm
5’9” – 6’3”65cm
Above 6’3”75cm

Note: When you sit on the ball, the hips need to be higher than the knees. Otherwise, it is an indication that the ball is small for your height or it needs to be filled with more air. The birth ball usually deflates with time and can be inflated using an air pump (4).

Sitting with your knees higher than the hips can disturb the fetal position and lead to prolonged and painful labor.


Image: Shutterstock

Tips For Using A Birthing Ball For The First Time

Here are a few tips for first-time users of a birthing ball.

  • Place the ball on a carpet or a rug and not on the floor. Go barefoot, or wear anti-skid shoes. Have someone hold your hand and support you from the back when sitting on the ball for the first time.
  • Place your feet firmly on the floor to gain your balance. Place one hand on the ball and slowly lower yourself to sit on the ball.
  • Now, place your hands on the knees and try rocking the pelvis sideways, and back and forth. Once you feel you are comfortable with it, bounce on it a little.
  • If you are not comfortable with the rocking or bouncing movements, place a chair near you for support.
  • Make sure that there is enough space around you when you exercise on the ball.
  • Breathe normally, control your exercise movements, and stop the activity if you experience any pain.

Knowing when to use the birth ball during pregnancy is essential to stay safe and make the most of it.

When Can You Start Using A Birthing Ball?

The first trimester is the best time to start using the birthing ball. You can also start exercising on it later during the pregnancy, although you may have difficulty getting used to it, considering how much your body would’ve changed with the growing baby.

Next, we tell you about how the birthing ball can be used during pregnancy, labor and after birth.

How To Use A Birthing Ball During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you can use the birthing ball:

For sitting comfortably when working or resting:

  • It is much easier to get on and off on the ball than it is to sit on a soft sofa or a hard chair.
  • Sitting on the ball is also a mini workout. Rocking and bouncing on it gently can keep your tummy and back muscles upright.

For some mild exercise:

  • Birth ball offers the needed balance, improves posture and exercises your tummy muscles. It gives the required support to bear the pregnancy weight.
  • Rock your pelvis sideways and back and forth while sitting on the ball (pelvic tilts). Hold your core tight, tilt your pelvis back slightly and try curving your lower back gently at the same time. Repeat to strengthen your uterus and lower back. You should not involve your shoulders when doing this, and movement should start from the waist and below.
  • Rotate your hips clockwise and anti-clockwise while sitting on the ball.
  • Remain in a kneeling position, and then lean over the ball (resting child’s pose). Now rock your hips front to back. It helps you relax.


You can also try pelvic floor exercises while using the birthing ball. You may find it much easier, and you will be working on the lower tummy muscles.

For changing the baby’s position in late pregnancy:

  • Lean forward on the ball and try to get on your knees. Forward-leaning positions while on the ball will help the baby adopt the upright birthing position.
  • This will make the baby move into the anterior position, with their back towards your tummy.

Though the baby is not going to remain in the same position until labor, exercising on the ball can at least offer you some relief from back pain.

How To Use A Birthing Ball During Labor?

Working out on the ball before you go into labor can make you feel comfortable. Some healthcare providers also recommend using TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, drug-free option for pain relief) along with the birthing ball to cope up with early labor.

Here is how you can use the birthing ball during labor:

1. Sit on the birthing ball with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now rock your pelvis side to side and from front to back (like using hula hoops). This helps to stretch out your body so that the baby can move into the right birthing position.


2. Get onto all your fours by hugging the ball, and gently lift your bottom from a kneeling position called the resting frog squat. Rock your pelvis sideways.


4. Lean forward over the ball while standing, with the ball placed on the bed or an elevated platform. This position gives gravity needed for the baby’s descent.


5. Bouncing gently on the ball strengthens your legs and improves your ability to balance. It is also helpful in giving counter pressure you require during labor.

6. If you are worried about falling off the birthing ball, try sitting upright on the peanut ball, an alternative to the rounded birth ball. (5).


7. Lie on your side using a peanut ball. It helps you rest and sleep well. It also keeps your pelvic region open when resting.


Besides making normal delivery easy, the birthing ball can also help you stay fit and recover faster after childbirth. Check with your doctor before planning to use a birthing ball. You can get a personal trainer or a specialist dealing with women fitness, if necessary.

How To Use A Birthing Ball After The Baby’s Birth?

You can use birthing ball after the birth of the baby in the following ways:

  • You will feel sore for some days after the delivery. Sitting on the ball is more comfortable than sitting on a hard surface.
  • Once you get the baby to latch conveniently, you can sit on the ball when breastfeeding. It can be better than slumping on the bed.
  • You can also cuddle and soothe your crying baby while sitting on the ball.
  • Exercising with the ball helps tone up your post-pregnancy body.
  • When the baby is ready, they may also like to stand, walk and scoot on the ball.

You may try birthing ball exercises during pregnancy to reduce pain and discomfort. The ball can be used any time during pregnancy and even during the final weeks of pregnancy. These exercises may also improve the body postures and strengthen the pelvic muscles. They are also recommended to increase the chance of natural childbirth and to ease labor woes. However, do not forget to seek your obstetrician’s opinion before beginning exercises with a birthing ball in pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can bouncing on a birthing ball hurt the baby?

No scientific studies have proven that bouncing on a birthing ball while pregnant might harm the baby. However, be mindful of rocking or moving gently on the ball with support nearby.

2. Does using a birthing ball help soften the cervix?

Yes. Studies have shown that using a birthing ball can significantly aid the process of cervical ripening (6).

In pregnancy, the birthing ball is used to support the lower back and abdominal muscles. It helps alleviate some of the weight placed on your back, allowing you to get reclined in a proper position that allows for effective pushing while giving birth. A birthing ball is a great tool for the pregnant woman. It helps keep your back and joints in good posture, and gives you an outlet for relieving back pain at home. You can use it during pregnancy, after you deliver, or with your partner so that he can help you through labor. Be sure to only buy a birthing ball that comes with a free exercise guide and DVD so you know how to use a birthing ball properly.

A birth ball can be used when you’re in labor and pushing, but it’s important to consult with your midwife or doctor before using it. Use a birth ball as an exercise ball on the floor by sitting on it, leaning over the side, then standing on the ball with your arms relaxed at your sides. The balance required for this can encourage contractions that lead to labor. A birthing ball is used to help with the pain of labor. The ball allows your body to move in a circular motion, which can help alleviate the pressure on your back and make you feel more comfortable during labor.

How To Use A Birthing Ball When Pregnant

Pregnant women love to exercise with a birthing ball. The resistance of the ball and controlled breathing can help ease pregnancy back pain and strengthen your abdominal muscles, making it easier to give birth. This guide will show you how to use a birthing ball during pregnancy: When pregnant, using a birth ball can help ease the pain of contractions by helping to bring pressure and relief to your back and abdominal muscles. Utilizing a birthing ball during labor can also encourage an easier delivery and reduce mother’s risk of complications during birth.

When you’re pregnant, it’s essential to find ways to relieve pain and tension. That’s where a birthing ball comes in. Using a birthing ball to prepare yourself for labor can help you feel more comfortable, balanced and relaxed. Here’s how to use it during pregnancy.

There are seemingly endless times and ways that a birth ball can be used during pregnancy. The following are a few examples.

In any stage of pregnancy

Use a birth ball instead of a chair when sitting. Trade the chair in for a birth ball at the computer, at the dinner table, and even while watching TV.

To get into labor

Doing circles on the ball can help get the baby’s head on the cervix. If your baby is posterior, then don’t do these circles until after ten contractions doing the abdominal lift and tuck.

If your water releases and there are no contractions, then doing these circles on the ball, done smoothly but actively (perhaps to salsa music), can help put the head on the cervix and bring on contractions. Do these circles for 20 minutes, changing directions periodically. Alternate abdominal lifts with circles on the ball once contractions begin if the contractions are not yet 3-4 minutes apart and it’s not time to sleep.


In labor

The birth ball can be used to sit on in early labor. The upward curve of the ball is a nice support, and gives a good counter pressure to the slightly engorged or swollen vulva during labor. It’s also more comfortable than a chair.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Use it in the shower if there is a bar to grasp on the shower wall.
  • Some women even like to sit on the ball during a very active labor.
  • The ball can be a mobile support for the mother’s upper body when she is kneeling and leaning forward in labor. This position on the ball makes it easy to rock forward and back during contractions, which soothes many birth givers.
  • Others like to rock side to side or even make gentle circles to calm themselves and rock their bodies during contractions. It’s a great way to be in a hands and knees position without straining the wrists.
When you need help to progress a labor but the mother can’t stand or get out of bed

Obstetrician Diane Peterson taught me this one. The mother sits on the birthing bed and bends her knees and touches the soles of her feet together. The birth ball is placed in the space between her knees and she leans forward to hug the ball. The foot of the birthing bed can be lowered a little to make this more comfortable.

Now she needs two trusted people at either side of her. She vigorously rocks side to side. Her support team grabs her arms and shoulders to hold her weight when she leans towards them, to prevent her from falling off the bed.

It is a vigorous exercise that shifts the asynclitic or posterior baby lower through the pelvis. It may correct the angle of the baby’s head as well. It will even help fetal descent if the reason for the lack of descent is due to an unfavorable angle of the baby’s head.

ball workshop epidural

For pushing

One woman I helped as a doula wanted to sit on the ball while she pushed. She didn’t want to be in bed or stand or sit on a birthing stool.

Her midwife was a little concerned about a repeat shoulder dystocia, but when the time came for the baby to emerge, the mother just angled her pelvis forward while I held her from behind and the baby slipped into the midwife’s hands. I realize now that she did a posterior pelvic tilt when flipping her hips towards the midwife, which is a nice “shoulder-release” position!

Ball H&Knees

After the birth

The ball is great for a parent to sit on while comforting a baby at least 2-3 weeks old. Make sure you are comfortable sitting on the ball and are able to get on and off without losing your balance before you try sitting down on a ball with a baby in your arms.

Here’s a common scene: The baby, who is in pain from gas, often calms down with a little walking. After a while, a parent’s legs will grow tired. If a similar walking rhythm can be imitated on the ball, the parent can sit while holding the baby upright over their shoulder and soothe the baby while resting their own legs.

It’s so good for growing humans to be held!

Using a birthing ball helps increase mobility and reduce pain during pregnancy. While you’re using the ball, focus on deep breathing, visualizing your muscles and ligaments lengthening with each breath. Birthing ball exercises increase blood circulation to the pelvic area, and may be helpful in relieving pain from other pregnancy symptoms like carpel tunnel syndrome. It also can help you stay strong during labor, which can make your whole experience easier. And think about this — you’re going to want to use your birth ball after baby comes, too – so start now and get used to it early. That’ll help you feel like less of a “newb” when using it in the hospital or at home post-baby.

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