How to Use a Birthing Ball during Labour and Pregnancy

An inflatable birthing ball is now a common aid to use during labour.  Many hospitals now have a couple available on the ward.  A birth ball is also useful at home during pregnancy and after your baby is born.

How Can I Use a Birthing Ball during Labour?

Using an inflatable birthing ball during labour can help with your labour positions and comfort.  It is another useful tool to add to your toolbox to have on hand during labour.  You can experiment with it during your pregnancy to see which positions are comfortable for you, or to use it for exercise or pain relief during pregnancy.  If you do experiment with labour positions, and find something comfortable, share them with your partner before labour starts, so they have an idea of what to suggest.

Here’s some ideas to help you use a birth ball during your labour or pregnancy:

  • Ensure you hold on to something stable while you lower yourself on to the ball, so you don’t fall.  Keep two feet on the ground while you are sitting on it.  Ask someone to help you get off it.
  • You can sit on it and sway during contractions, maintaining the movement in your pelvis, which can help ease baby down.  This is relaxing for your pelvic floor.
  • You can kneel and lean forward onto the birth ball.  This is a great alternative to a hands and knees position on the floor or bed.  It can help relieve back pain, rotate baby, but is more restful.  It is easier on your arms, and some padding under your knees can help with any discomfort there.  It is easy to rock back and forth while you are leaning on the birth ball.
  • Place the birth ball on the bed or counter, and rest your upper body on to it while standing.  This allows you to sway easily, and also uses gravity to help baby descend.
  • Helping maintain an upright position during labour can help shorten the length of your labour, and also helps increase blood flow to the uterus, placenta and baby.
  • The Spinning Babies website suggest using a birthing ball to get into labour – doing vigorous circles on it can help to get baby’s head on your cervix.  If your waters break, do this for 20 minutes, changing directions periodically.

Available in a range of sizes, it is important to get the right one for your height.  Most women find a 65cm diameter ball the best.

You can watch this video for more ideas:


How can I use a Birthing Ball during Pregnancy?

A birth ball can also be used during pregnancy to help build strength and flexibility, and gently build your core muscles.  It will help strengthen you rack, and ease any pains you may have.  It supports your pelvis well, and keeps it symmetrical.  Here’s some exercises to help with stability, opening your hips, stretching and releasing lower back pain:


After Baby is Born

Bouncing on the birth ball while holding baby will soothe most “fussy” babies.  It can also help with burping baby after a feed – just hold bub over your shoulder and rub their back while you sit or gently bounce.


Birth Partner has birthing balls with a range of other useful items available in our Birth Store, and can send to you Australia-wide.  Good luck with your journey, and please let us know if we can help in any way.


The Birth Partner – Penny Simkin (2008)


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