Birthing balls are one of the latest trends sweeping the pregnant mother fitness world. There’s nothing fancy about these balls; they’re simply your basic elastic Swiss ball or exercise ball. However, using them to perform exercises specific to facilitating childbirth and delivery has become more popular among expecting mothers.
Recent studies and surveys have found that performing exercises with the birthing ball for six to eight hours per week could improve delivery outcomes. However, one study wanted to find out what happened when mothers spent more time training with or using the birthing ball. To that end, the researchers gathered 30 pregnant women. All of the women used the birthing ball for an average of 22 hours per week. They participated in the Ballon Forme classes, both supervised and at home. They attended 28 classes during the span of their pregnancy.
The women who spent more time exercising using the birthing balls saw a visible improvement in their delivery. First off, they had shorter labor durations than the women who spent less time using the birthing ball. They spent less time in each stage of labor, and their deliveries ended up being quicker. The women who participated in the supervised classes also saw better outcomes than the women who performed the exercises at home. Best of all, more time spent on the birthing ball had no negative effect on the baby’s health.
Exercising using a birthing ball can help to reduce the lower back pain common among pregnant women. It can help to decrease pre-delivery anxiety, reduce contraction pain, and enhance mobility and flexibility during the later stages of pregnancy. And, as this study proved, it can speed up the delivery process.
The birthing ball can be used to perform the exercises included in the Ballon Forme program, but it is also useful for sitting. Many pregnant women find sitting on soft couches or hard chairs uncomfortable. The excess weight can make the chair feel harder and stiffer. It can be hard to get out of soft, overstuffed couch. With a birthing ball, you have a comfortable place to sit. It’s also easier to stand up when you want to move around, and the ball will give you a miniature workout. The rocking, bouncing, and swaying motion will work your core muscles, strengthening them for when the time comes to push in the delivery. Definitely worth a try if you want to improve your health during pregnancy and speed up childbirth.
1. Fournier, Danielle; Feeney, Gloria; Mathieu, Marie-Eve, “Outcomes of Exercise Training Following the Use of a Birthing Ball during Pregnancy and Delivery,” Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: Post Acceptance: January 04, 2017 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001672.