Birth Ball for Labor

New Study Shows Pain Reduction and Improved Coping in Women that use a Birth Ball for Labor

A recent study published in the December  2011 peer reviewed journal Midwifery examined the effect of exercises on the stability ball on pain and a woman's ability to cope during labor.

Labor Pain

In a randomized controlled trial, examiners recruited 48 women to participate in a prenatal exercise program involving the exercise ball and compared them to 39 pregnant women that did not partake in the exercise ball program. This study was performed over 12 months in 2009.

The exercise ball program of exercises that the intervention group took part in consisted of a booklet of exercise ball exercises and a 19 minute video. Women were instructed to perform the exercises for at least 20 minutes 3 times per week for six to eight weeks. Each woman used a birth ball during labor and was told to assume the most comfortable postures and exercises.

Questionnaires were administered during labor to measure pain and self-efficacy. (The Childbirth Self Efficacy Inventory, and the McGill Pain Questionnaire)

Results of this study showed that exercises using the birth ball for labor provided statistically significant improvement in pain and a woman's ability to cope. Women that used the exercise ball prior to and during labor required less epidural analgesia, experienced shorter first stage labor, and had fewer caesarean births when compared to the group of women that didn't do the exercise ball exercises.

Reference: Gau ML, Chang CY, Tian SH, Lin KC. Effects of birth ball exercise on pain and self-efficacy during childbirth: a randomised controlled trial in Taiwan. Midwifery. 2011 Dec;27(6):e293-300. Epub 2011 Apr 3.

Other Useful Information

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More information on birth ball basics and positioning.
Exercise and pregnancy information and guidelines.
Sports and pregnancy.
How to use the exercise ball after giving birth.
Precautions when using the ball.
Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period