Getting the most out of your birthing ball! May 05 2016
Birthing balls are hugely popular with pregnant women, but many birthing balls just aren’t used to their full potential. Instead of actually exercising with the ball during the pregnancy period, too many women leave theirs in the package until they go into labour. Below we explain how to get the best out of your birthing ball.
Stay on the ball during pregnancy
The chances are that if you're pregnant, you either have, or maybe thinking of purchasing a birthing ball. If so that's fantastic news. There are several reasons why most midwives recommend them during pregnancy.
- Sitting on a ball will give you support while forcing you to use good posture. This will be welcome relief for your back, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Balls have also been used to encourage baby to turn into the correct position, and can often help to make labour more comfortable for the mother to be.
- Because of this it's now usual for hospital maternity units to carry a stock of birth balls, although not usually enough for a busy night on the labour ward!
This is all great news, however what's happened to the benefits of actually exercising with the ball? That seems to be something no one in the baby industry, least of all the people buying the balls, know much about. Birthing balls are one of the best things around for exercising during pregnancy, and also for getting your figure and strength back after the birth.
So, Why are they so good? Because when you exercise on the ball, you have an unstable base, and that's totally different to exercising on the floor or a bench, both of which are firm and stable.
- The instability of the ball makes your body, and your core muscles in particular, work harder to keep you balanced, and in time these muscles will become stronger and stronger resulting in fewer injuries and less back pain. Also during pregnancy your centre of gravity is shifting on a daily basis, so that improvement in balance becomes very important.
Even when pregnant there are lots of exercises you can perform safely on a ball. Once you've been given the go ahead by your doctor (there are several contra-indications to pregnancy exercise, so you should always check with your doctor first), your workout should include exercises for your upper and lower body, your core and your pelvic floor, and also (as mentioned above) for your balance.
Before you start exercising you must learn to activate your transverse abdominus muscles (TVA).
These are deep muscles that comprise part of your 'core', and learning to control and strengthen them is necessary to help maintain good posture, alleviate back pain, and prevent injury. To find your TVA, lie on your back and put your fingertips inside your hip bones. If you cough, you’ll feel the muscles beneath your fingers twitch. That’s your TVA. To contract the TVA take a deep breath in, and then breathe out and at the same time pull your belly button in towards your spine. Those of you who've done any pilates will have done this before, and will have heard of the term 'navel to spine' many times.
When you've got the hang of this, try holding it for ten seconds while continuing to breathe. It will be tricky at first but once you've learned to 'fire and sustain' the TVA you will be able to switch it on any time you exercise, lift baby, or do anything else that requires effort.
On a serious note, if you want to use a ball during pregnancy you should always buy the 'anti-burst' variety. Some midwives I've spoken with have told me about cheaper, supermarket brand balls bursting like balloons during labour, and that doesn't bear thinking about. If punctured, an anti-burst ball will deflate slowly and not go pop. It's also important that you perform the exercises correctly in order to avoid injury, so get qualified instruction whenever you can. A quality product like The Miracle Box includes a good anti-burst ball with detailed teaching instructions. We shall be recommending some exercises for you to try out with your ball next month!
Peanut Birth Ball - Helping Mums in Labour and Birth January 30 2015
Mums just love peanut birth ball!
Thinking about getting a peanut shaped birth ball? Then perhaps you should look at the miracle box; leaders in birth balls. Supplying peanut birthing balls to the NCT, Doulas, NHS Trusts and many mums...
This is not just a gimmick, this is an unbelievable idea! Peanut Shaped Ball, perfect for helping all mums to be during pregnancy?
What is a peanut Birth Ball?
Birth Balls are commonly rounded, varying in size depending on the height of the mother-to-be ranging from 55cm to 75cm, and have many benefits to mums during pregnancy, labour and post pregnancy. However, a peanut ball, is what it says, peanut shaped, and comes very much into its own during labour especially if an epidural is performed!
So, why use a peanut ball in labour? The peanut ball gives a more controlled, multi-directional movement; with this increased stability it provides greater confidence while aiding support in the squatting position/straddling the ball, therefore giving more balance to the mother-to-be. The ball sits comfortably between the mother's legs, aiding support and helping to open the pelvis. Varying the mother's positions with the ball encourages foetal rotation and descent. The ball has been found to be most effective to help prop open a woman's legs when she cannot use upright positions due to an epidural. The ball provides a soft, comfortable, squeezable aid during the labour process. The peanut ball has been found to be at its best when used on women who receive epidural injections to alleviate pain during pregnancy as typically a mother-to-be cannot use other proven birthing methods such as squatting or using an typical round birth ball, whereas the peanut ball due its smaller size and shape fills this gap perfectly.
What size do I require?
(*from women who have used the peanut ball) *Studies have shown that the ideal size is between 45 to 55cm, therefore we have settled on a 50cm ball (approx. 19" high) typically smaller than a round birth ball. The peanut ball can be used in conjunction with a traditional birth ball as both have their place during pregnancy and labour. The size is measured from the base to the tallest point on one of the larger ends of the ball. This is used between the legs to open up the pelvic outlet, you don’t want it to be as large as the traditional birthing balls that are used for sitting and swaying on etc.
Who uses the peanut birth ball?
The peanut birth ball has been widely adopted in the USA, by hospitals, doulas and midwives. This is now starting to be adopted in Europe as an effective aid during labour especially if an epideural has been used. Initially pioneered by Banner Good Samaritan Medical Centre in the USA, clinically proven results have been outstanding. (Please see below)
How do you use the peanut ball?
There are several different positions in which you can use the peanut ball. It is also incredible useful to help support your back and neck whilst in bed, as well as being able to lean over the ball etc.
Side laying Squat Position:
When you are tired and exhausted and need to rest and lay down or you have had an epidural and you are either not allowed or able to stand, the peanut ball can be used to simulate optimal labour positions while in a resting posture, by opening the pelvis and allowing the baby room to descend and open the cervix.
Laying Squat Position:
This position simulates a squat whilst laying down bringing your knees up and opening up the hips into a squat. (similar to using stirrups), but much better and more comfortable!
Laying Lunge Position:
The laying down lunge can be used to open the pelvis, stretch the cervix, and help rotate baby in one direction or the other depending on which way you lay and need the baby to move.
More positions and how to use the peanut birth ball effectively included with our Ball.
Some of the Benefits of Using a Peanut Birth Ball
1. Studies** prove that the Peanut Ball lowered C-Section rates. The C-Section rate for the group of women who used the peanut ball was 13% less than for the group that did not use the peanut ball.
2. Studies** show that ladies in labour who used the peanut ball decreased the first stage of labour by nearly 90 minutes and the second stage by 23 minutes compared with a controlled group that did not use the peanut ball.
3. The Peanut Ball can be placed between the mother to be's legs in a way to open the pelvis so dramatically as to allow the baby to get into his or her best position to be born.
4. Studies** show that the use of the Peanut Ball during labour for patients with an epidural significantly reduced the length of labour.
5. The peanut birth ball gives a more controlled, multidirectional movement, therefore giving more balance to the mother.
6. The peanut ball is commonly used by women who receive an epidural. The ball sits comfortably between the patient's legs, aiding support and helping to open the pelvis. Varying the mother's position with the ball encourages foetal rotation and descent.
7. The ball helps increase the pelvic diameter and in turn, allows more room for the foetus to descend.
**The use of peanut balls was pioneered at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center and has been rolled out to other Banner facilities throughout the USA. The Banner Good Samaritan trial included 200 pregnant women who were carrying a term baby and who had an epidural. Studies are also being conducted in Europe, and the peanut ball is starting to be widely used by Doulas, Midwives and Hospitals
The Miracle Box Complete Birth Ball Package gets even better! September 16 2014
The Miracle Box Complete Birth Ball Package gets even better!
Why Is this?
We have loaded so much information online, that is simple and easy to download to any device (phone, tablet or PC) to help you during your pregnancy and labour.
Not only do you get a class leading birth ball and pump (anti-burst, non-slip surface ball) you also get information on:
Optimal Foetal Positioning
- Late Pregnancy Postures.
- Getting your baby into the best positions for birth.
- Exercises to help move your baby.
- Helpful positioning tips during labour with your birth ball.
Information Sheets on Birth & Labour Positions using a Birth Ball
Series of helpful photographs and descriptions to help you during the labour and birth of your baby
PLUS the DVD is now online for you to access and view anytime. This DVD has been divided up into 4 sections:
- Light Core Exercises
- Pelvic Floor Exercises
- and, Self Checking for Diastasis Recti (Abdominal Separation)
PLUS our fabulous high quality exercise wall charts for safe and effective pregnancy, post natal and advanced toning and stretching exercises. Designed by pre and post natal exercise specialists will also be online very soon
For more information visit www.themiraclebox.co.uk
The In's and Out's of Birthing Balls (all you need to know) January 28 2014
Ins and Outs of Birthing Balls
I am probably asked 10 times a day by mums, how effective are birthing balls? Do birth balls really work? Why should I purchase a birth ball?
I totally understand why I am asked these questions, from the untrained eye how can a birthing ball offer so many benefits. I cannot stress how effective they really are. I have been recommending birthing balls to mums for over 10 years now and I still cannot believe how effective they really are during pregnancy, labour and during the postnatal period. I have seen the benefits for myself when my wife used a birth ball during the birth of our son.
As an advanced personal trainer, I have studied the benefits and seen the benefits. I have even developed a birthing ball package to help mums realise the benefits during pregnancy, labour and afterwards using a birth ball (this is called the miracle box complete birth ball package) plus I have also written a book “The Essential Exercise and Birth Ball Handbook for Pregnancy and Beyond” which is sold in Amazon, Waterstones, Boots the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) to name but a few.
So let’s answer some of the questions I often get asked.
What is the difference between a birth ball, exercise ball, gym ball or Pilate’s ball?
Essentially they are all the same thing. The main and most important difference is whether they are made from an anti-burst material. What does this mean? This means the ball will deflate slowly rather than with a bang if punctured.
How do you know if it is anti-burst material?
I often get asked this one. Basically, it will say on the box, website or on the ball. If not and you are given one from a friend, typically a non anti-burst ball will have a shiny surface. If you touch the ball it will feel thin and they tends to be softer. If you are unsure, do not use and purchase a quality anti-burst birthing ball. Some birth balls have a non-slip finish, which helps them grip to the floor as well as helping you to grip the ball when sitting on. Always check the small print when you buy a ball. This is particularly true if you're ordering a gym ball rather than a birth ball. What you need is a ball that is 55cm, 65cm or 75cm in height when inflated. The size depends on your height. Some gym balls can come up much smaller than you expect when inflated.
What size birth ball is right for me?
You will find different guidelines on many sites, and some sites only recommend 65cm and 75cm balls, which I believe is wrong. Through working with midwives, doulas, fitness professionals and many 100’s of mums over the past 10 years, I always stress that it is very important to purchase the correct size ball based on your height. As I tell many mums, firstly, makes sure that your hips are slightly higher than your knees when sitting on the ball when fully inflated. Also the reason you need the correct size ball is for balance and stability. Do not get a larger ball than suggested, as you will find your centre of gravity changes during the later stages of pregnancy, it is important to be in full control when sitting on a birth ball, especially if you intend to do some light exercises.
A birth ball will take your weight, whatever your size. Good-quality balls are pressure-tested to support weights up to 300kg.
Inflating a birth ball
Depending on your ball, you may get a measuring tape with the ball, which indicates as a guideline whether your ball is at the correct height. If it does not have this, as a rule of thumb, inflate your ball so that it's firm but still gives a little when you press into it. Typically press the ball of your thumb into the ball, if it goes into the ball no further than 1” you have the prefect pressure. Birth balls tend to be thicker than an exercise ball, and will generally take a couple of days to get to the correct height. All balls are slightly different and you may tend to lose some air over time. You'll probably find you need to top yours up to keep it at the correct height for sitting comfortably, with your knees below your hips. Do not over-inflate your ball as you will find it hard to use correctly and you may lose your balance and slip off. Always follow the guidelines with the ball. During the later stages of pregnancy you may want to let out some air to soften your ball. This is useful to do when using in labour. This will make it more comfortable and stable to use.
Using a birth ball for the first time
First of all don’t be afraid of your ball, don’t think the ball is going to burst, roll away or you are going to fall off. You will be surprised how stable a birth ball is!
When you first sit on the ball, it's best to have someone with you to support the ball (especially in the later stages of pregnancy). This will give you the opportunity to get used to staying balanced on it. Always make sure that you are wearing non-slip shoes or go barefoot, socks can often slip especially on smooth surfaces. Make sure that your feet lay flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, so that you feel comfortable and balanced. Place one hand on the ball and lower yourself onto it, once you're comfortable, place your hands onto the sides of the ball by your side. You can start with pelvic tilts (rocking your pelvis from side to side or back to front) this will feel very comfortable and you will find this feels very natural. Then perhaps have a little bounce! This is great for getting your baby excited and helping to open your pelvis. If you feel unsteady at any point hold on to or whoever is near you, such as a chair, table or person.
If you're going to use your ball for exercise, make sure you have a clear area around you. Exercise in a slow and controlled way. Breathe normally, and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort (Watkins 2001). Some birth balls come with safe and effective pregnancy exercises like the miracle box complete birth ball package.
How can I use a birthing ball during pregnancy?
The possibilities for using a birth ball seem to be endless. The earlier in the pregnancy the better, I would certainly suggest using from 6 months and it will become of more use during the later stages of your pregnancy. You can use it to:
How do I use my birth ball during labour?
Using a birth ball can help you adopt different labour positions, which can help you be more comfortable in your labour. It has been proven to shorten labour times. Using a birth ball during labour has been shown to help reduce the pain of contractions. Some midwives and doulas recommend a combination of a birth ball and TENS unit to help. These are especially useful for home or natural births. You may find you instinctively sway and rock in rhythm with your contractions and a birth ball gives great support for this.
Below I have outlined a few positions that work best during labour:
During labour you will find that sitting on a
birth ball will help relieve back pain/pressure. It
will also help to open the pelvis and cervix.
Rocking from side to side/back to back or
bouncing will also help aid pain relief. Make
sure that your pelvis/hips are higher than your
knees (as per the image).
You will find leaning forward on the birth ball
will help during contractions and will also help
relieve any back pressure. Hold your knees with
your hands or lean further forward it that helps
with your elbows on your knees. During the
contractions lean forward, in between sit more
You can always soften the ball, by taking a little
pressure out of the ball during the later stages
of labour, to make sitting on the ball more
Kneeling on one leg with one leg forward,
whilst leaning on the ball for support. You may
find this position very comfortable. You can
always put a pillow on the floor to help take the
pressure of your knee.
We have included a complete guide to birthing positions when using a birthing ball within the miracle box complete birth ball package
Should I use my own birth ball or one in the Hospital?
Most labour wards and birthing centres have birth balls to use during labour. I recommend taking your own, as you will definitely have one for use and you know where it has been. It'll be easy to clean your ball afterwards by washing it down with warm soapy water and using antibacterial wipes.
What do I do with my ball after the baby is born?
You may find your birth ball more comfortable to sit on than a hard chair, particularly if your perineum is sore. You can deflate your ball a little to make it softer and take the pressure off any stitches or bruising.
You could also use the ball to sit on whilst breastfeeding, you will find that it is better for your posture, as sitting in the sofa can be uncomfortable and your posture tends to slump which is not as good for when feeding.
Many mums have also mentioned that bouncing on the ball while cuddling your baby helps soothe them and often gets them to fall asleep. You can use your birth ball to perform post natal exercises, which is ideal for helping to strengthen your core muscles and also to help perform pelvic floor exercises.
As your baby grows up, you may find that the birth ball often becomes a great plaything or you may use the ball as an office chair, which will help your posture and help reduce back ache.
To summarize just a few of the benefits of using a birth ball:
- It will help alleviate back pain.
- It helps to get your baby into the optimal foetal positioning, if you baby is back to back.
- It will help with pain relief during labour.
- It can help reduce your labour time.
- Excellent for pregnancy exercises.
- During the later stages of pregnancy it can offer support and comfort when sitting on.
- Perfect for Post Natal Exercises.
- Excellent platform to aid Pelvic Floor Exercises.
- Use as an office chair to help posture and help reduce back problems.