Using a Birth Ball

A birth ball is a great tool to include in your pregnancy practices, not just for yoga, but for sitting on as you are working on your computer or at the table. It will allow you to sit comfortably on your pelvic floor, which will bring your awareness there, and also the forward-leaning position will help baby position herself. Slouching and lying back on the couch are counterproductive to positioning the baby and bad for digestion as well.

In order to understand the pelvic floor, and where it is located, I have provided a diagram that shows you the area we wish to soften for labor: the perineal body. When you practice yoga, or are sitting, focusing on this area will train you to open this area during birth.

pelvic floor diagram

Here are a few beneficial ways to use the birth ball during pregnancy and into the early stages of labor for as long as it is comfortable and helpful to you.

BIRTH BALL MEDITATION

meditation ball

If sitting on the floor becomes difficult for you, this is a more buoyant and fluid meditation seat and is great for accessing your lungs if you are finding it harder to breath as your belly grows. It puts you up on a throne, takes you away from the earth, and makes things a bit more airy. However, if your mind is active it might be harder to ground in this posture. This is also a great tool to use instead of a chair or a couch, which both tend to encourage slouching, which is not ideal to position the babe in your womb.

PELVIC CIRCLES ON BALL

What you do:

You want a ball big enough so your hips are slightly higher than your knees with your feet on the ground.
You will most likely find yourself gravitating to a position where you are sitting on your perineum, between pubis and coccyx. It is most comfortable here.
With your hips, draw small circles on the ground with your ball. This action will move into your pelvis and have you rolling around your perineum.

How you participate:

Feet will widen as your belly grows.
You can play with keeping the movement isolated in your hips, so your head isn’t moving, or you can bring the whole spine into it. Play with small circles and then big circles.

What it’s for:

This soft seat for your pelvic floor keeps the perineum engaged evenly, especially while sitting (as long as you aren’t sitting back on your tailbone).
It encourages strength in the back muscles as the belly grows.
It is also a tool to bounce on to soothe the baby within. When the baby comes out, this gentle bouncing has the same effect.

Special Considerations:

This is great to do in labor to encourage baby deeper into the pelvis.

PELVIC TILT USING BIRTH BALL

What you do:

This is just like table posture except you will rest your arms and chest on the birth ball.
Keep your thighs perpendicular to the ground. Undulate your lower body back and forth, curling and uncurling the coccyx.

How you participate:

Swaying the hips back and forth, making circles with the pelvis, or simply curling your tail under and rounding your lower back will help keep the hips and psoai fluid.

What it’s for:

As the relaxin steadily increases throughout your body near the end of pregnancy, it may be hard to place weight directly on the hands in table pose.
Using the birth ball under the chest and arms, as if you were hugging it, offers more height and support for you, as the closeness of table pose to the ground may feel slightly constricting as your belly expands to its limit.
It is great to utilize in pregnancy to take pressure off the lower back and will serve this purpose in labor as well.
If your baby has not yet turned to the head down position, this posture is great to get into any time you feel the baby moving, to coax her into the most optimal position.

SUPPORTED WIDE-LEGGED STRETCH TO SQUAT

What you do:

Position yourself so your hands are on your birth ball with your legs mat distance apart (the short side).
Torso and arms extend to form an arc as far from the birth ball as possible while maintaining the natural wave in your lower back. It may take a few tries to find the best placement.
Ensure that your weight is more balanced on the front of your foot initially.
With knees slightly bent, lengthen your whole spine, maintaining a slight backbend, and look at your birth ball to encourage this.

How you participate:

On the inhale drop your butt down so your hips are in line with your knees and your eyes look above the birth ball. Shift your weight back towards your heels, letting the birth ball come inches closer.
Return to the starting position on the exhale and shift your weight to the ball of your foot, then birth ball moves forward a couple inches.
If your baby is head down, you can bring your butt lower than your knees and go up and down into a deep squat to encourage the baby further into your pelvis, especially as you are nearing the end of pregnancy.
If your baby is breech, do not bring your butt below your knees.

What it’s for:

These dips will create room in the lower uterus as your baby drops down and will also work to strengthen the legs and open the pelvis for birth.
They also strengthen the pelvis and legs to give you stamina for birth.

Special Considerations:

If you find that you are unbalanced in this posture there is most likely too much weight on your hands. The birth ball is simply a light support and the goal is to do the posture from your legs.

***

Mama I hope this helps you to find some deep breaths throughout your day. For more practices like this, my latest book “A Timeless Birth” is coming soon!

***

All artwork by the talented Susan Fierro