Why you should buy a sitting ball when pregnant..
Because it's the best spent 15-20 Euro when it comes to your pregnancy, labor and postpartum life.. No joke! It's not just there to use it during those couple of hours when in labor, but it will serve you for months, or years even, if you let your kids to play around with it ;-)
Below some inspiration on different practices which involve a sitting ball and which are more than likely to make your pregnancy journey smoother..
1. You can help yourself to avoid lower back pain
When you sit on a ball you are forced to keep your spine straight, otherwise you fall. And when you sit in a neutral position, you are helping yourself to avoid lower back pain, which is by far the most common pregnancy pain..
But that’s not the only benefit of replacing a chair with a ball when pregnant..
2. You also help your baby to get into the most optimal position for birth
We all know that our baby has to go head down if we want a smoother natural birth. What we often do not realize though, that it’s not only about the head down, but it is also important where the rest of the body of our baby lies.
In short: we want to avoid that our baby’s back is aligned with our back – a so called ‘star gazer’ position, which is encouraged by rounding your spine when sitting or standing, e.g. when slouching on a couch. Check the article here, #1 on the list to read all about the neutral posture and the most optimal position for birth of your baby.
A little tip: make sure to buy a ball big enough so your knees are below your hips when you sit on it.
3. You release any discomforts you may experience around your pelvis
When our body prepares for labor, things shift, which may be accompanied with pain around pelvis. For some of us it happens earlier in pregnancy than for the others. Some of us never have any complaints of that sort.
If you do experience, however, any pains around your pelvis or ligaments, try gently circling your pelvis while standing or while sitting on a ball. It is very likely to bring you a huge relief again..
4. You help engage your baby
Around week 36 you may start hearing from your midwife that your baby is engaged, meaning it went deeper in the pelvis and is likely to stay there till labor. It’s a good thing. Yes, it will make you walk funny, sometimes uncomfortable, but it’s one of the mechanics of our body to prepare for labor, so we welcome it when it's there.
Some babies engage earlier than week 36, some only engage during labor. You may wait and see or you may help your baby get down there after week 35 with certain movements. Sitting on a ball and circling your pelvis is one of those movements, so again worth trying. Don’t forget, the more work your baby does when in your belly, the less he/she needs to do when on the way out ;-)
5. You help your baby to rotate, e.g. from a breech into a head down position
One of the practices advised to help turn a breech baby (a baby that is still positioned with a head up), is called rebozo sifting (Rebozo Manteada) – a technique used by Mexican midwives during pregnancy and labor to help baby rotate more easily, or to help mother relax. A mother is kneeling against a sitting ball, while her helper uses the rebozo technique to provide support. Spinning Babies wrote an excellent article with detailed instructions on the technique here. And if you like to learn all about rebozo when in Europe, I would strongly recommend to visit this site.
1. It’s an excellent prop to create a ‘station’ allowing for partner massage and acupressure treatments during labor
You can build it up by using a chair, a sitting ball, a stool and a blanket. You place a chair against a wall, put a sitting ball on that chair and a blanket on the ball. Then you place a stool in front of that construction, sit on the stool and lean against the ball. A blanket is to make us more comfortable, and setting everything against a wall is to avoid the chair to move when you lean against it.
In this position you allow for couple of things:
You are able to completely relax and release as you don’t need to hold yourself
You lean against something, so helping your baby move into the most optimal position for birth with their back aligned with the front of your body
And you give access to your whole back, so a person supporting you during labor can easily help you with a massage techniques that either bring relaxation or relief for your lower back pain, which often accompanies surges (contractions). Here an example of a massage practice, which is great for relaxation and lower back pain, to be used in labor but also any other time during pregnancy or after (#5 on the list).
2. You bring relaxation to your pelvis and help dealing with surges (contractions)
You can do it when sitting on a ball and circling your pelvis, or when leaning against a ball when on your knees and doing similar circles with your pelvis in this position.
3. You help your baby go deeper into your pelvis or engage if still needed
Similar as described in the pregnancy time, you sit on a ball and circle your pelvis.
4. You may help your baby rotate if needed
By using Rebozo sifting method – see description above.
During those first weeks when you often need to carry your baby to help them fall asleep, you can use a ball to bounce on it gently while having your baby in a carrier/wrap. This way your hands are free (as using a carrier/wrap) and you don’t need to hold yourself and your baby as a ball is doing that job for you. It's called a #parentinghack :-)
And once your baby is not such a baby anymore, he/she starts walking and later on climbing literally on anything, the possibilities of fun with a ball are endless ;-)
So in short: get a ball! ;-)