When To Start Using Birthing Ball Nhs

The birthing ball is an essential tool for a normal, fast and safe delivery. This article offers advice about when to start using it with the NHS guidelines for pregnancy. If you have gone more than 36 weeks pregnant, it’s time to start using a birthing ball nhs. They are designed to help ease the pains of labour. If you plan on having a home birth, this is essential.

The NHS advises that you should start using a birthing ball from the second trimester of pregnancy, and continue using it until you go into labour. The NHS recommends you use a birthing ball to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, prepare for birth and create space in the pelvis for your baby at 37 weeks, which is when your due date is calculated. However, it’s not necessary to buy a ball until later on in pregnancy when your bump rises up over the pubic bone, or at 35 weeks if you haven’t had much experience with exercise before now.

Struggling to get comfortable during pregnancy? Use a birthing ball to give you the support you need.

When Should You Start Birthing Ball

It’s important to start using your birthing ball as early in your pregnancy as possible. However, there’s no such thing as “too early,” so if you haven’t started yet there is still time to get started today! Use a birthing ball to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor. You can place the ball on a chair or use it on the floor, and adjust it as needed to relieve pressure on different parts of your body. When should you start using a birthing ball? We recommend that you start using one in early pregnancy, so you get used to it and can find the most comfortable way to position yourself. The more comfortable and relaxed you are during labor, the easier it will be to go with each contraction.

Unlike the name suggests, these balls are not only for the ‘birthing’ part of having a baby. They are brilliant multitaskers which can help with every stage of pregnancy – and even afterwards when your baby arrives.


Even if you have the most sumptuous sofa, getting comfortable when you’re pregnant, especially towards the latter stages, can be quite a challenge. And as for getting up again when you’ve melted into the cushions, forget it!

  1. A birthing ball can help you resist the urge to slump as it promotes good posture, which is particularly essential in the last weeks of pregnancy when baby needs to get in the correct position.
  2. If you’re watching TV or need to be in a sitting position for a prolonged amount of time, swapping your usual chair for a birthing ball can help you feel more comfortable.
  3. A birthing ball helps distribute your weight more evenly, relieving spinal pressure and easing any back pain or pregnancy niggles.
  4. Sitting on a birthing ball also offers counter-pressure to the perineum and thighs as well as offering welcome support to your knees and ankles.
  5. Gentle movements from a birthing ball also promote blood flow to the baby via the placenta.

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You can sit on your birthing ball from very early on in pregnancy. Then, from around 32 weeks, you can use it to help you with some gentle pregnancy exercises (see below) although you should always check with your GP or midwife before you try them.

If in later pregnancy your GP or midwife finds your baby is in a posterior position (facing back-to-back) your ball can work wonders for teasing them into an anterior position. Try adopting positions where you’re leaning forward rather than tilting back. Gentle bouncing on your ball is also useful for helping the baby’s head drop into the pelvic area.


Birthing balls can be used during all stages of labour. Once labour begins, sitting wide-legged on your birthing ball helps to increase blood flow to the uterus as well as the placenta and your baby as well as helping open up the pelvis and hips.

Using a birthing ball during labour allows you to get into positions which can help progress it most effectively. Kneeling down using your ball to support your arms and upper body is a good one to try and is ideal for connecting with your birthing partner who can position themselves close to you. With easy access to your hips and back it’s also perfect if you’re planning to use massage during labour.


It’s been your trusty companion throughout pregnancy, but your relationship doesn’t have to end now baby is born. Birthing balls can also be useful after birth, especially in the early days when the perineum is still sore. A good tip to help sitting a little more comfortable is to let some of the air out.

The ball can also be useful if you’re breastfeeding (although you may need to get the hang of positioning baby first) as it helps to maintain your posture.

Bouncing on your ball holding your newborn can feel soothing for them as they enjoy the gentle rhythm. It can also be a great help if your baby is suffering from colic, helping them to settle.

When you’re ready (no earlier than six weeks after birth) your birthing ball is great for post-pregnancy exercise. Even just gentle movements will help strengthen the core muscles in your back and tummy as they move to keep you balanced and upright.


Make sure you get the right size!

Not all birthing balls are the same – they come in three main sizes according to your height. When you sit on it, your hips should always be around 4 inches higher than your knees.

If you are up to 165cm tall, a 55cm ball is recommended; up to 173cm, 65cm ball and if you’re over 173cm, you’ll need a 75cm ball.

Ensure you buy one with an ‘anti-burst’ feature.


Gentle movements or bouncing on your birthing ball can help relieve lower back and hip pain as well as ease tension at the front of your bump where it may be feeling tight. Exercise can also help you sleep a little better meaning more energy for the day ahead.

Hip circles

hip circles birthing ball

Sit on the ball with your back straight and your legs open slightly to balance. Once you’ve adopted a steady position, move your hips in circular movements one way and then back the other. These movements can also be used in labour for relief and to help baby get into the correct position.

Figure 8

figure eight - birthing ball exercise

Sitting on your ball, move your hips like you’re drawing a number eight. This is a good exercise for relieving lower back pain and also helps to move baby’s head down into the pelvic area.

Side to side hips

Sit on the ball facing forward and move the hips from side to side. This is great for stretching out any tightness in the sides of your body. For extra stretch, lean your arm over your head as you move. 

Over ball stretch

pregnancy ball exercise

Using a mat to cushion your knees and starting from a kneeling position, try leaning over your ball and resting your head and shoulders and then make circular movements with your hips. You will feel the release in lower and upper back as well as ligaments around the tummy area. This can also be repeated using a figure eight movement.

Pelvic tilts

From the same kneeling position with your arms hugging your ball, try gently rocking your pelvis back and forth. This is great for easing any discomfort and also gently encouraging baby into position. 

Most people start using the birthing ball around their fourth month of pregnancy. This way, you get used to using it before your body actually needs it. You should start using the birthing ball about one week before you go into labor. This will help your body slowly get used to sitting upright and allow you to practice squatting for delivery.

The birthing ball can be used during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. It is not only a great tool for helping moms labor comfortably and safely, it is also great for baby care.

How Does A Birthing Ball Bring On Labour

Research shows that using a birthing ball can help prepare your muscles for labour by improving your posture and balance, increasing the flexibility of your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use during peeing or pooping), improving the efficiency of contraction and relaxation of those muscles, strengthening your back and abdominal muscles by helping to shift your weight onto them, and reducing the risk of back pain.


How to bring on labour


The pregnancy waiting game can be a little frustrating for excited parents-to-be. You’ve waited 40 long weeks to finally meet your baby; your hospital bags have been packed and carefully positioned by your door for what feels like eternity. The clock is ticking towards your due date, and each and every twinge feels like it’s time to meet your little one.

And then your due date comes and goes. But where is that first contraction? You’re heavily pregnant, feeling as big as a house and probably hot and a little bothered. So how do you bring on labour?

You’ve probably heard the countless remedies and old wives’ tales about how to induce labour naturally. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t try most natural ways to induce labour until you’ve passed your due date.  It’s also worth noting, there are currently no proven methods to naturally induce labour. But if you’ve run out of patience, be really careful and talk to your midwife before trying to naturally induce labour using the techniques listed here.

Exercises to bring on labour

Try a gentle walk

A gentle stroll will help you relax, but being upright can also potentially help kick-start labour. Gravity and the light movement will encourage your little one to get into the correct birthing position, which is down by your cervix. The gentle pressure from your baby’s head on your cervix could stimulate your body into releasing oxytocin, a hormone that encourages contractions.

Can a birthing ball help induce labour?

You can get hold of birthing balls quite cheaply and they’re very useful during pregnancy and labour, providing gentle support for your body. If you’re overdue, then gently rocking on your birthing ball can help nudge your little one into the correct birthing position.

Can sex help bring on labour?

Although you may not feel like having sex, and it’s not the easiest thing to negotiate when your 40 weeks pregnant, sex is one of the oldest techniques in the book for helping bring on labour. Sex can encourage the release of the ‘love’ hormone oxytocin, which can help to stimulate contractions.

Of course, sex with a big bump can be a little awkward, so make sure you find a position that is comfortable for you. The spoons position, where you both lie on your side and your partner lies behind you, is often recommended. However, if your waters have already broken, sex is not recommended as it can heighten the risk of infection.

Can massaging your nipples naturally induce labour?

Your nipples are believed to be one of the pressure points to help induce labour, and although it might sound strange, massaging them can trick your body into thinking your little one has already arrived. Gently massaging your nipples mimics your baby’s suckling, which can stimulate contractions, again by releasing the hormone oxytocin. The recommended way to do this is to stimulate your breasts for an hour. Gently massage the areoles (the dark part of your nipple) with the palm of your hand for 15 minutes continuously on one breast, and then alternate to the other breast for 15 minutes, until the hour is up.

Pregnancy exercise

Does pineapple induce labour?

It might sound a little strange, but pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which is thought to soften the cervix and help encourage labour. That’s the good news; the bad news is you’re going to have to eat a lot of pineapple for this to have any real impact, and eating that much pineapple is likely to upset your stomach. We’d advise caution with this possible way to help induce labour!

Can eating spicy food like curry help bring on labour?

There is a theory – and remember, it’s only a theory – that the digestive system and the cervix are closely linked. So if you give your digestive system a bit of a nudge with spicy food, it has been suggested you could stimulate your cervix. If you enjoy spicy foods you can try it – but beware the possible unwanted side effects of indigestion, heartburn or emergency trips to the loo!

Does acupuncture help to induce labour?

Acupuncture has been around for centuries and has indeed been used to bring on labour in women who are overdue. There have only been a few studies to support this, but one study did show that it helped induce labour in 88% of expectant mums. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into specific points of your body. This is thought to stimulate the energy within your body to act on a specific organ function or system. An increasing number of midwives are now becoming trained in acupuncture, but obviously if you want to give it a try, it is very important you only see someone who is specifically trained in acupuncture during pregnancy.

Is it true that hypnosis can help bring on labour?

There is no study that conclusively proves that hypnosis can help induce labour, but it can help to relax you. If you are feeling a little bit nervous or stressed about giving birth – which is perfectly natural – your body might not release the oxytocin hormone which helps trigger labour. So if you know that hypnosis is going to relax you, then it’s certainly worth a try.

I’ve heard blowing up balloons can help induce labour, is this true?

As strange as it sounds, there is a theory that suggests the pressure placed on your abdomen from blowing up a balloon can help to start labour. If you’re at your wits end and overdue, there is no harm in giving it a gentle go!

Are there any things I should avoid when trying to induce labour?

Although some mums swear by these methods, and you might have heard of some of them, the following possible ways to induce labour all carry potential risks for you and your little one. We would only recommend using these if first discussed with your midwife or obstetrician:

  • Castor oil. Some people believe it brings on labour because it acts as a laxative. But it can also give you severe diarrhoea.
  • Raspberry leaf tea. Many expectant mums drink this during pregnancy because there is a belief it prepares your body for childbirth by helping tone your uterus muscles. However, raspberry leaf tea should not be used to bring on labour as the sudden stimulation can result in strong contractions which can be harmful to your baby.
  • Homeopathic and herbal remedies. There is not much evidence to support these bringing on labour, and in some cases they can be harmful to your baby, so best to stay clear.

Remember that it’s always best when labour comes on naturally. If you reach 42 weeks, your doctor and midwife will offer to induce you. If you choose not to take this induction, it is advised that you let the doctors monitor your baby closely, as your little one could be at risk of complications. If you are considering trying any of these methods, please consult your midwife first for their advice, and remember, the natural way is always best for you and your baby.

It’s been proven that the birthing ball can help bring on labour in three ways: Firstly, it increases your pelvic floor muscles, making them more flexible and ready to give birth; Secondly, it helps you learn how to relax and focus on pushing during labour; Thirdly, it makes you feel grounded and relaxed because when you are pregnant it can be quite difficult to keep your balance. The soothing rock motion helps naturally induce contraction-like pressure on your abdomen that encourages contractions and prepares your body for delivery

A birthing ball is a large inflatable ball that pregnant women can sit on during labour, and then use as a pregnancy support afterwards. It helps to relax the muscles of the pelvic floor, improve blood flow and increase oxygen supply to mum and baby. A birthing ball is a great tool to help prepare your body for a natural birth. It can help improve your ability to relax and relax the muscles in your pelvic floor. Many women find that it helps bring on contractions.

It’s the perfect pregnancy tool for bringing on labour, increasing comfort and reducing the risks associated with pregnancy. It can be used from weeks 28 of your pregnancy to increase lower back discomfort, help with posture and prevent joint pain during labour. It can also be used after birth as it makes sitting up in bed easier so you can recover quicker. If the baby is in the right position, pressure from leaning on a birthing ball can cause the cervix to dilate. The gentle rocking motions may help you fall asleep, giving your body an extra hour or two of rest before contractions begin. A birthing ball can also help relieve tension and numbness in your back and legs, which can be uncomfortable during the first stages of labor. Once your water breaks, a floating pregnancy ball allows you to move around (while still keeping the baby safe inside).

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