– Hedra athttp://hedra.typepad.com/hands_full_of_rocks/2009/04/hypnopbirthing.htmlHands Full of Rocks; a collection of essays on parenthood
What is a birth ball?
A birth ball is simply an exercise ball. The name “birth ball” is used affectionately when the exercise ball is used to prepare for, or during, labor.
I like birthing balls, too. And though I think standing and doing the abdominal lift and tuck is the best for helping a posterior baby rotate in labor, a birth ball is second to the birth stool for helping rotation while the mother is sitting.
Here, Penny Simkin shows how a woman can lean over the ball and keep her pelvis mobile for the baby during labor.
Use a birth ball to sit on instead of a chair.
Where? Trade the chair for a birth ball at the computer, at the table and even while watching TV.
Why? The birth ball comforts and strengthens your lower back. Your pelvis is better supported and symmetrical. The pelvis opens a bit, maybe not as much as squatting, but certainly without the effort of squatting. (Squatting is good preparation, too.) You are able to sit upright comfortably after only a few tries with the ball. Sitting upright helps the abdomen be a hammock for the baby and encourages the baby to settle in an anterior position when the mother’s ligaments and fascia are balanced and she hasn’t waited too long. Start before pregnancy, if you can, but start when you can.
How? Sit so that your feet are flat and apart, so that your feet and the center of the ball make a tripod when you sit down on it. The ball should be firm and big enough so that your hips are equal or higher than your knees.
Use a birth ball to help you do a gentle back bend to open your upper chest and shoulders. You might get a gentle adjustment, or spinal alignment.
To Get into Labor
Doing vigorous circles on the ball can help get the baby’s head on the cervix. If your baby is posterior (you feel little hands wiggling down in front) then don’t do these circles until after ten contractions doing the abdominal lift and tuck.
If your water releases (breaks, rupture of membranes, ROM) and there are no contractions, then these circles on the ball, done smoothly, but actively, perhaps to salsa music, can help bring the head on the cervix and bring on contractions. 20 minutes. Change directions periodically during the 20 minutes you do the circles. Alternate abdominal lifts with circles on the ball once contractions begin if the contractions are not yet 3-4 minutes apart and it’s not time to sleep.
The birth ball can be used to sit on in early labor or the pushing stage. The upward curve of the ball is a nice support during labor. The curve gives a slight counter pressure the slightly engorged or swollen vulva during labor. It’s just more comfortable than a chair. Few women like the ball in very active labor. That’s when it’s hard to sit on anything that presses.
The ball can be a mobile support for the mother’s upper body when she is kneeling and leaning forward in labor. This position on the ball makes it easy to rock forward and back during contractions, which soothes many women. Other women like to rock side to side or even make gentle circles to calm themselves and rock their bodies during contractions.
It’s a way to be in a hands and knees position without straining the wrists.
Need help to progress a labor but the mother can’t stand or get out of bed?
Obstetrician Diane Peterson taught me this one: The mother sits on the birthing bed and bends her knees and touches the soles of her feet together. The birth ball is placed in the space between her knees and she leans forward to hug the ball. The foot of the birthing bed can be lowered a little to make this more comfortable. Now she has two trusted people at either side of her. She vigorously rocks side to side. Her support team holds her arms and shoulders to hold her weight when she leans towards them. They prevent her from falling off the bed. It is a vigorous exercise that shifts the asynclitic (the head is tipped as if listening) or posterior baby lower through the pelvis. It may correct the angle of the baby’s head. It will help fetal descent if the reason for lack of descent is an unfavorable angle of the baby’s head.
One woman I helped as a doula wanted to sit on the ball while she pushed. She didn’t want to be in bed or stand or sit on a birthing stool. Her midwife was a little concerned about a repeat shoulder dystocia, but when the time came for the baby to emerge, the mother just angled her pelvis forward while I held her from behind and the baby slipped into the midwives hands.
After the Birth
The ball is great to sit on while comforting a baby. A baby who is in pain from gas often calms for walking. After a while, a parent’s legs are tired. If a similar rhythm can be imitated on the ball, the parent can sit while holding the baby upright over their shoulder and sooth the baby while resting their own legs. Make sure you are comfortable sitting on the ball and are able to get on and off without losing your balance before you try sitting down on a ball with a baby in your arms.
A co-venture video experience with Spinning Babies and Blooma Yoga! Coming Soon!
Spinning Babies; Daily Essentials For Pregnancy Video.
Together Sarah Longacre, international prenatal yoga instructor and birth doula, and Gail Tully, yours truly, created a unique instructional video for flexibility and comfort in pregnancy and to support better fetal positioning in time for birth.
Here are daily activities for stretching and balancing a pregnant body. Start early in pregnancy to prepare to make the most space for baby's best birth position and the most ease for mother's opening during the birth process.
We begin the program for women of average flexibility (or just plain stiff to start with) and beginner tips. But soon, you'll be ready to move freely! That's when Sarah brings the stretches all together into her easy to follow, playful, sensual, and flowing "Blooma Style" daily routine.
Sarah's "dance of opening," moves joints and ligaments to come alive under the delightful melody and percussions of Carin Vagle. This isn't about core strength; its about freedom of movement and creating space in the body.
Sarah plays along with Gail's little game of "Flashlight" to show pregnant women how to evaluate their own posture and positions. Smart Maternal Positioning helps baby snuggle their backs into the front of the womb for Optimal Fetal Positioning.
The Daily Essentials For Pregnancy includes tips for using Maternal Positioning around the house. Actual scenes in the bedroom, living room -and even the bathroom- gives practical instruction like no other video. You will be sleeping more comfortably immediately when using these tips. Within a week or two many pregnancy discomforts of the pelvis and lower back may be reduced when all these nurturing techniques are integrated into your daily lifestyle. Spinning Babies and Blooma Yoga-- a natural collaborative!
Spinning Babies Childbirth Preparation Class.
Soon pregnant parents around the world can take a Spinning Babies class from their own monitor! Join six couples as they learn the reason why Spinning Babies works and how it can enhance your labor and birth.
See techniques to do daily or weekly. Actual, real consultations with two couples right at our class location, one with a breech baby (head up) and one with a baby in a transverse lie (lying sideways).
Couples do the techniques together and show you how to do these at home.
Used alone or with the Daily Essentials, Spinning Babies Childbirth Preparation Class goes beyond the basics. Simple props show complex concepts sweetly. Little-known anatomy is linked to childbirth and the role of fetal positioning.
The section on labor discusses two labor patterns- the one "promised" in other books and the unexpected one associated with the posterior labor. Learn the common causes of long labor and techniques to help baby through the pelvis.
Be empowered; be prepared. After using this video throughout your pregnancy, while we can't promise, of course, you may not need the tips for labor progress. You can use that knowledge to help your neighbor. This video is all Spinning Babies.
Blooma Yoga Prenatal Yoga for AM and PM.
Warm up in the morning and cool down in the evening in two 30-minute sequences. Sarah Longacre shares her own blossoming pregnancy, Blooma style, to the exquisite music of Carin Vagle. Sarah's affirmations will carry you through labor with emotional strength and encouragement. Play this video when the others become too basic and you just want to dance and have fun. Wait, dance? Isn't this yoga? With Blooma and Carin Vagle, your spirit won't know the difference. Soar to greater freedom of movement. Bring your hormones into harmony with the day. Begin your day with serious play. Cool down at night with a sleep enhancing stretch before bed. This video is all Blooma!
Sarah's video is ready for you now! Get Blooma's AM/PM Yoga here
All three videos are professionally produced by Melissa Koch of Grey Duck Productions, with stills by Tanya Villano Photography, each of these three videos are dynamic on their own. Together they will enhance your pregnancy and labor experience with fun and empowerment in the most practical manner. Feel hope for your birth abilities, this is support for your journey. Gain the confidence and flexibility to fully bloom. I believe these videos carry the potential to bring your best birth dreams into the gentle reality.
Compassionately priced. Estimated Due Date for Daily Essentials March 2014; for Spinning Babies Parent Class, Fall 2014.