If you take a natural childbirth class or do any research about comfort measures during labor, you’ll definitely hear a lot about the birth ball! But you might be wondering what size birth ball to get, how to use it, and whether or not there’s a difference between a birth ball and an exercise ball.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission from products purchased through links on this page at no extra cost to you.
What is a birth ball?
A birth ball is a large, bouncy ball that women in labor use to facilitate different positions to help them get through labor and delivery.
There are lots of benefits to using a birth ball throughout pregnancy and labor!
- Relieve back pain during pregnancy
- Getting the baby into a proper position for birth
- Strengthens the core
- Opens the pelvis and encourages dilation in labor
- Can make labor more comfortable
If you aren’t getting an epidural and plan to be able to move around during labor and delivery, there’s really no reason not to use a birth ball! There aren’t really any downsides. Ask your hospital if they’ll have one available, or just plan to bring your own.
There is basically no difference between a birth ball and a normal exercise ball that you would find at the gym. There are some balls that are marketed specifically for birth, but there’s no need to go out and pay extra for a ball just because it’s labeled differently! Any regular ball will do to help you get through labor.
When should you start using a birth ball?
You can start getting use out of your birth ball even before it’s time to labor! If you do a lot of work at a desk, sitting on a birth ball instead of a traditional chair can help relieve pain and even, help get your baby positioned properly for birth.
Once labor gets going, you’ll definitely want to start making use of the birth ball. During early labor, sitting and bouncing on the birth ball can help open up your pelvis and make more room to allow the baby to move down the birth canal. Your cervix may also dilate faster if you spend a lot of time on the birth ball!
Are there different sizes and types of birth balls?
There’s not a lot of innovation going on in the birth ball industry! If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, for the most part! There are different birth ball sizes which I’ll discuss more below.
There is one alternative to a traditional birth ball that is particularly useful for laboring women who need or want to remain in bed for all or part of their labor. It’s known as the peanut ball, and it’s just what it sounds like! It’s a birth ball shaped like a peanut. You can use it while lying on your side in bed with your legs wrapped around the narrowest part of the ball or in a number of other positions to help move labor along!
How do you know what size birth ball to get?
Choosing a birth ball size is not complicated! You can choose your size for a traditional birth ball totally according to your height. If you’re on the petite side, you’ll want a smaller ball, if you’re tall, you’ll want a larger one. This is mainly just so that you can sit on the ball comfortably without falling off or having to sit down too low!
Birth balls typically come in three different sizes: 55 cm, 65 cm, and 75 cm. 65 cm is the most common birth ball size, and is best for women of average height. If you’re taller than 5’8″ you may want to go up to a 75 cm size ball.
Personally, I’m a little over 5’8″ and I found out that the 75 cm size ball worked well for me.
Can a birthing ball induce labor?
A birth ball probably isn’t going to toss you into labor if your body isn’t already ready and close to doing it on it’s own anyway. That means there’s no danger in bouncing on the birth ball before you’re due – it’s not going to induce you into early labor or anything. In fact, it’s great to practice your balancing ahead of time and can help relieve back pain!
However, at the end of pregnancy, sitting with your legs wide on a birth ball helps to open the pelvis and make your baby move down farther into the pelvis to get things moving along a bit faster. This may help your cervix to dilate at a faster rate as well.
What is the best birthing ball?
If you’re looking for a ball that’s designed specifically for pregnant women, The Birth Ball is a great choice and comes with some fun and helpful accessories. You’ll get a booklet with lots of different exercises and positions that show how to use the birth ball, some non-slip socks, and a hand pump to save you from getting light-headed during inflation!
Honestly, there’s no need to be picky about what birth ball to use during labor. The most important thing is that it is the correct size for your height!
Can bouncing on a ball break your water?
As with inducing labor, it’s not likely that sitting or bouncing on a birth ball will break your water if your body isn’t ready. It’s totally possible that your water could break if you sit on the ball a lot in late pregnancy, but it’s most likely a coincidence and it would’ve happened anyway!
What’s the difference between an exercise ball and a birth ball?
There’s really not much of a different between a birth ball and an exercise ball. If you already have an exercise ball on hand that’s the right size, there’s no need to go searching for a ball that’s specifically branded for birth! An exercise ball will function perfectly well for you in pregnancy and labor.
The only differences that you may see in a birth ball vs an exercise ball is that birth balls have some extra safety features such as being anti-slip and being made of a thicker material to prevent it from popping.As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Melinda worked with children for years in a professional setting before becoming a full-time stay at home mom. She currently has three young children, and enjoys sharing tips and ideas about parenting and how to manage a home with excellence. She’s been featured on Heathline and Her View From Home.