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How to use Yoga Ball positions for pregnancy and labor Q and A

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Published on Sep 11, 2009

Why would you use the ball?
Sitting on the ball can be very comforting. It is soft unlike sitting on a chair and even sometimes on a chair with a cushion is too hard in labor. As you sit you have the baby in a gravity plus position which helps the baby come onto the cervix. Generally the more pressure the babys head has on the cervix allows the cervix to dilate faster...and this is especially helpful for first babies (translate to less time in prodromal labor from 0-4 cms). When you sit the muscles inside the hip bones are relaxed and this gives the baby just a little more wiggle room as they descend down the birth canal. The ball easily moves from floor to bed to shower and is easy to clean!

Who would use the ball?
Anyone can use the ball. It helps to play with these positions during pregnancy so you o feel comfortable with them in labor. I had a weekly student in my yoga class where we did not have access to balls and when she went into labor and I suggested she sit on the ball for comfort she thought I was crazy! Many women who have used the ball in my classes or on their own say it is one of the most comfortable positions in labor. Sitting on the ball really helps relax the pelvis and is a great gravity plus position. There are also ways to have the birth partner sit on the ball to support you as you lean on them.

When would I use the ball?

Anytime your back hurts she can make hip circles. If you are trying to get the babys head to pivot from back labor(babys back of skull is on the sacrum) you could move in hips circles in one direction for 15-20 minutes. This creates a swirl in the amniotic fluid and helps the baby to spin in the direction. If after rest this didnt work, try going the other way for another 15-20 minutes. This works best if the babys head is not yet on the cervix and they have more room near the top of the birth canal.

The ball is a great support in pose of a child, especially if you are feeling nauseous and it makes the baby go into a gravity plus position! Another way to lean on the ball is cat...which can really make moving from 7-10 cms much easier. If you have carpal tunnel or edema being in cat can be hard on the wrists, so leaning on the ball is a great alternative.

Where would you use the ball?

Sitting on the ball can also happen in the shower, some people like to have a prop in front of them like a bed or wall to put their hands on. If the ball is used in the shower a hand towel can be put under the ball to keep it from slipping and another on top of the ball to sit on. As one of my students learned, be careful where you place the bottom towel and be sure not to put it over the drain or you might flood the birthing room!!

If you drape over the ball in cat or pose of a child you can do this on the floor or the bed.

Squatting with your sacrum on the ball could happen on the floor or if the bed is propped up you could put it up against the head of the bed.

Some hospitals provide balls and some dont. Check when you go on your hospital tour. If the one the hospital is providing feels too big or small ask for another size. (generally 55 cms is good for those 54 and under and 65 cms is good for those who are taller, but the amount the ball is inflated or deflated can vary wildly)

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