One of my favorite tools for labor comfort is the birthing ball (i.e. exercise or yoga ball). Most of the time, we envision sitting on the ball during labor. Sitting is comfortable and lovely. However, the ball is one of the most versatile labor comfort tools out there. So, let’s explore two of the most useful standing labor postures with the ball.
Standing, with the ball between your back and the wall
You can see that Amy has the ball in the small of her back and she’s leaned into it a bit. Her knees are soft so she can move any way her body feels right. She can rock side to side, bend her knees and move up and down, move in circles, bounce in and out from the wall, or she can press back more firmly into the ball.
Josh is in front of her, holding her hands and making eye contact. This makes her feel more secure in her movements. It also helps Josh be present with her during labor and gives him an active role to help manage her discomfort and speed labor along. The hand holding and eye contact boosts Amy’s oxytocin levels, which not only cause a feel-good sensation, but they also increase the strength and frequency of her contractions. That’s huge!
Standing, forward leaning over the ball
Here, Amy is leaning forward with her chest on the ball. Her knees are soft and her eyes closed. This is a truly restful position. Yes, you can get rest in labor, even when you are working!
Her movements can be the same as the other position: side to side, up and down or in circles. She can also bounce in and out from the wall, which feels amazing!
Josh is beside her, with his hand on her back. He is fully present and his touch tells her that. If she wants, he can massage her back while he’s there too.
You can use the ball like this in the shower too! The shower can spray on either mom’s back or belly, depending on which way she’s facing.
If you choose an epidural, it is unlikely that standing labor positions will be available to you after the epidural is administered.
These positions can be done at home or in the hospital or birthing center.
Once at the hospital or birthing center, always check with staff to be sure you and baby don’t have any complications that would preclude the use of these positions.
Want to know more?
In, Confident Birthing, my Lamaze class, we go over these labor postures and a host of others to make you more comfortable, speed labor along and teach your partner how to best support you during birth.
Can’t make a group class? Private childbirth classes are available either in-person or via Skype to get you ready for baby.
For those moms who’ve been there, done that, tell us in the comments below how you used your birth ball in labor.