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Choosing a Birthing Ball
When choosing a birthing ball, you'll want one that's the right height. In general, women who are under 5 feet 2 inches will want a 55 cm ball, while women over 5 feet 10 inches will want a 75 cm ball. Women in-between those two heights will do well with a 65 cm ball (the easiest size to find). No matter what size ball you choose, inflate it enough so when you sit on it, your knees are at a 90 degree angle and you feel comfortable on it.
You'll also want to choose a ball that's burst resistant and high quality. This way if your ball gets a hole in it, it'll slowly deflate rather than pop. To make it easier to bring into your birthing facility, inflate it half way and then pinch some of the skin to pick it up. You could also purchase an exercise or birthing ball strap to help you carry it.
You'll also want to check with your birthing facility about their birthing balls policy. Some birthing facilities may have balls you can use during your labor; other birthing facilities may only allow you to use one under the supervision of a nurse.
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Using a Birthing Balls During Labor
There are many great ways to combine a birthing ball and labor. A birthing ball allows you to get into many helpful positions that make your contractions a little easier. While you're at home in early labor, try sitting on your ball. Chances are, you'll find the contractions much more manageable. This is because sitting on a birthing ball puts you into a supported squat opening up your pelvis and getting the baby off many of the joints and ligaments.
Many women also find getting into a hands and knees position and leaning on or hugging the ball is very comfortable. When in this position, consider putting a pillow on the ball to make it even more comfortable.
Try taking the birthing ball into the shower with you so you can sit down on the ball and get the benefit of the shower too. You could also try putting the ball onto your bed and leaning over it for a comfortable standing position during labor.
Make sure when you're using a birthing ball in labor that someone is massaging your back, feet and/or hands to help you even more with contractions. Don't forget your breathing techniques too!
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It's very important when you're using a birthing ball during labor that you're making sure to use it safely. Of course, you know to make sure there are no sharp things around you that can puncture your ball. You also should use your ball with bare feet or non-slip shoes to prevent your feet from slipping out beneath you and causing an injury.
To keep your ball clean during labor, put a blue chux pad (ask your nurse for one) on it before you sit down. This can help if your water has broken or if it breaks while you're on the ball.
Always have someone help you onto and off of the ball. During labor it's not uncommon to feel a little shaky and off balance. Have your coach stand close to help you and prevent you from falling off the ball.
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