Childbirth is a beautiful process that does not follow a straight line, rather a flowing path. A birth ball is a great tool to help ease the discomfort and help a baby move down the birth passage. There are 2 main types of birth balls and each type offers great benefits. 

The Round Birth Ball

A round birth ball is simply an exercise ball similar to what you would see at a gym or fitness studio but is used during childbirth. They are a tool that can be used for sitting, kneeling, and leaning forward, all of which are for easy, rhythmic swaying. Birthing people often find that this type of rhythmic swaying helps enhance relaxation during surges. The round birth ball is great for all pregnant people throughout pregnancy and labor. You may replace your office chair or spot on the couch with your birth ball to promote good posture and increase mobility in your pelvis.

Benefits of a Round Birth Ball

  • Could help progress labor
  • Good for back (posterior) labor
  • Helps rotates baby during a posterior labor
  • Enhances pelvic mobility and relaxation
  • Promotes body mobility
  • Engages gravity for baby’s descent down the birth canal
  • Provides perineal support
  • Can be used simultaneously to fetal monitoring

The Peanut Ball

Peanut balls can offer relief and support to women in labor by offering comfort and progressing labor along. You can sit or kneel over the ball, but you can also use it while lying down. This is why the peanut ball is an ideal support measure for women who are having a medicated birth.

Benefits of a Peanut Ball for Birth

  • Studies have shown that use of a peanut ball can decrease 1st stage labor by about 1 hour and 2nd stage labor by about 20 minutes, with and without an epidural
  • Cesarean rates are 12% lower when a peanut ball is used, regardless of epidural use
  • Often more comfortable than using stirrups or pillows to support the birthing person’s legs
  • Promotes pelvic relaxation
  • Helps rotates baby during a posterior labor
  • Opens and widens pelvis for baby’s descent down the birth canal

All birthing persons can benefit from the use of a birth ball. During labor, moving is paramount to helping create comfort and progress labor along. As your doula, I can remind you about the option of using a birth ball and help you into different positions.

If you are planning to birth in a hospital or birthing center, there is a good chance they will have some sort of birth ball available, but it is recommended to ask about availability prior to labor. I highly recommend purchasing a round exercise ball, such as The Birth Ball, to use at home throughout pregnancy and while you labor at home. Just be sure to purchase one that is the right size for the birthing person!