Who knew there were so many tools available to women in labor?
Before becoming a doula I had no idea there were so many tips, tricks, and tools available to help women cope during pregnancy, labor, and beyond. Once I learned, I was hooked! I have seen the relief provided by these great tools and the gratitude many women have had when introduced to them.
Without further ado, I present to you…all the balls!
The birth ball is pretty magical during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
- During pregnancy, the ball can be used instead of a chair as it comforts and strengthens your lower back. The ball better supports your pelvis and slightly opens it with more ease than squatting. You can also do a gentle back bend over the ball to help with any back aches or pains. You will sit on the ball with your feet planted on the floor and about shoulder width apart. You want your hips equal to or higher than your knees so be sure it is inflated properly.
- During early labor it is a great idea to use the birth ball to do hip movements. You can do circles, sways back and forth, or front to back. Putting on some great music to get a rhythm going often helps!
- Once in active labor, the ball is great to lean onto/drape over. With the support of your partner or doula, stabilize the ball on your bed and drape your body over it. You can sway side to side while the ball helps you move easily. This helps you get into a “hands and knees” position without so much strain on your wrists. You can also sit on the bed and place the soles of your feet together. In the space between, you hug the birth ball. This may help with the baby’s decent and your comfort. Last, as shown in the picture above, you can sit on the birth ball so that your partner or doula have access to your back for a massage, hip squeezes, or counter pressure.
- In the postpartum period, the ball is a great place to sit and sway an upset baby. You can also place your baby on his or her belly on the ball and with a lot of support sway the baby and ball left to right.
- Sizing is important: 55 cm ball if you’re under 5’4″, 65 cm ball if you’re between 5’4″ – 5’10″, 75 cm ball if you’re over 5’10”
- Some women report the peanut ball being great during pregnancy for sleeping more comfortably.
- Peanut balls are great for women that prefer to be in their bed for any reason during labor, whether an epidural is in place, movement is restricted due to high blood pressure or other medical reasons, or rest is needed. As shown in the video, there are multiple positions in which the peanut ball can be comfortable!
- During the postpartum period and beyond, it is great for exercise and kids LOVE them for playing “horsey”.
- Tennis ball massages are fabulous during pregnancy, labor, and beyond! You can simply have your partner roll the tennis ball across your back in the areas you seek comfort.
- Tennis balls create GREAT counterpressure against your sacrum during labor.
- You can give yourself an awesome massage or even adjustment with tennis balls in a sock and laying across them on the floor as demonstrated here.
If you had an awesome experience with any of these nifty balls we’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Written by: Melissa Nauss, Owner | Lead Doula of Stars and Stripes Doulas of New Orleans