Sitting on the Birth Ball

  • Gently swaying back and forth on the birthing or exercise ball will help ease the pain of contractions.
  • By sitting straight on the ball gravity will assist the fetus descend into the pelvis.
  • By sitting on the birth ball rather than a chair it allows your partner to rub your back or apply a counter-pressure.
  • Sitting on the ball gives the perineum and pelvic muscles extra support without a lot of pressure.
  • The labour ball exerts an even pressure on the perineum and thereby stimulate dilatation and widening of the pelvic outlet.
More information on the birth ball/labor ball:
What is a birth ball?
Exercise ball tips from our readers
New study shows pain reduction
Exercise and pregnancy

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, among women who had a vaginal birth or those who attempted vaginal birth, one of the medication-free techniques most frequently used for pain management was sitting on the birth ball. 18% of women in the Canadian Maternity Experiences survey were using the birth ball to assist in pain management.(1) Other methods used were breathing exercises, massage, changing position, walking, and baths/showers.

A study examining a group of 58 18 to 35 year olds with low risk pregnancies compared the perception of pain during labor and in the immediate post partum period between women using the exercise ball for labor and women who didn't. The study found that the birth ball is a safe method of decreasing pain during labour with 4 cm dilation and in the postpartum period. (2)

Other positions using the birth ball:
Sitting on the ball leaning forward
Standing leaning over the labor ball
Kneeling leaning over the ball
Squatting back.
1.  Public Health Agency of Canada. What Mothers Say: The Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey. Ottawa, 2009.
2.  BE Delgado-García,  MI Orts-Cortés, I Poveda-Bernabeu, P Caballero-Pérez. Randomized controlled clinical trial to determine the effects of the use of birth balls during labour. Enferm Clin. 2012 Jan-Feb;22(1):35-40.

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