Expecting a child is exciting and scary at the same time. The process of pregnancy, especially for those first time moms, is tedious and stressful. One that can lessen your stress level is a good exercise. However, many will find it difficult since as pregnant, they have limited movement. But there is good news for you: besides hours of walking and light exercise at home, birthing ball or exercise ball is highly recommended for pregnant women to relieve you from pregnancy and labor pains.
What is an exercise/birthing ball?
An exercise ball for pregnant women is similar to the big ball that you see in a gym. Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy can use this as part of their exercise. The specialized ball targets hard to reach part of the body, especially the spine, which is commonly aching during pregnancy. Birthing ball, on the other hand, is oftentimes used even in the delivery room during labor.
What are the benefits of using an exercise ball during pregnancy?
As your tummy starts to grow, your body is also starting to gain weight. Pain due to weight gain is also stressful. Using an exercise ball during pregnancy will help you to stay comfortable and active even before labor starts.
Exercise ball targets the following parts of the body that are commonly painful during pregnancy:
- Back/Spine – As your baby grows, the pressure of carrying it lies heavily on your spine. Therefore, stretching it on the exercise ball even while you are watching TV can ease the pain. Exercise ball can also improve your posture which is affected as your tummy grows, and strengthen the back muscles
- Pelvis/Hips – Sitting on an exercise ball can ease the pain in the pelvis, and even allow it to open up and getting you ready for the big day. There is also a study that a version of this ball called Peanut Ball can reduce the length of labor and cesarean surgery rate.
Besides these two main benefits, the use of exercise ball during pregnancy also helps you to lessen stress during pregnancy. Just by its comfortable nature, it allows you to relax compare to an office chair. This is due to the distribution of weight; wherein your center of gravity puts too much pressure on your hips and pelvis. You can also target some parts of your body by gentle pregnancy exercise similar to that of the yoga movement. Example is by gentle bounce or movements.
What you should remember before using an exercise ball?
Before trying out an exercise ball for your pregnancy exercises, be sure to consult your doctor for it. Remember that these are unsteady and quiet rocky so extreme cautions are necessary. Consider your height in choosing the right exercise ball for you. If you are 165 cm, a 55 cm ball is recommended. For those who are up to 173 cm, a 65 cm exercise ball is for you. For moms who are 173 cm up in height, a 75 cm exercise ball will do the job.
Simple pregnancy exercises using Exercise Ball
So you have the right exercise ball for you. For safety reasons, it is better to try ready and fit in to exercise.
Sit on the ball carefully. Check yourself if you have a stable and comfortable position. Once you are fine with your position, gently push your butt downward to create a little bounce. Repeat it until you manage to hold your position. You can add variations by raising your hands up.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Sit on the ball and in a relaxed position. Let your arms and shoulder loose. Move your shoulders upward and press them to the side of your neck. Do this for 10 reps.
Place the ball at your back and to a wall at home. It’s like a “sandwich” the ball between you and the wall. Slowly move down in a squatting position for 10 reps.
These three main exercises are used regardless of what stage or semester the pregnancy is. You can check out other sets of exercises using the exercise ball. Remember, it is important to know what sets of exercise routine is suitable for you.
Advantage of Using an Exercise ball when Pregnant
Since pregnant women have limited movement, including exercise ball in the routine can compensate for that. One of the hardest to reach part as the belly grows is the back, feet and the toes. The exercise ball can tone them as you go through the semesters of pregnancy.
Another advantage of using the ball is it can be a massager. You can lean on the ball while gliding gently back and forth. The soft and rubber feeling can take away those back and hip pain that really kills you.
You can hug it and let your belly hang for a little moment (it is safe, don’t worry). Ask your partner to give you a shoulder or back massage.
To relax your feet and legs, you can lay your back flat and put them over the exercise ball, serving as elevation. Fatigue and discomfort of legs are common pains since you gain weight fast.
An exercise ball also improves posture, as it supports your back and hips while you exercise. And since it supports you sit in a perfect posture, the blood flow to your uterus and placenta improves. This is very good for your growing baby.
What you should remember when exercising during pregnancy
Most exercise routines are safe as long as you do it with caution. Always starts with light exercise such as aerobics. Walking is another exercise that you might find easy. Better to create an exercise plan and join pregnancy sessions that include exercises. This will encourage you to get moving. It is fun to have many pregnant work-out buddies out there.
However, before taking too excitement about it, it is advisable to consult your obstetrician.
You should not exercise if you have a medical history such as:
- History of miscarriage/early labors/premature birth
- Low placenta and weak cervix
As long as you are not bothered by anything mentioned and other illnesses, you are OK to proceed.
When it comes to the exercise ball, be sure that you must:
- Put a secure base to it such as a yoga mat or any rough surface mat to avoid rolling. Falling or tripping is the number one enemy of pregnant women.
- Test the stability of the ball. You can do this by feeling your position when sitting down. Make sure that when your butt doesn’t move unless you move it in purpose. Don’t worry about the ball breaking in. These balls are 100% durable and won’t explode.
- Know your weight and the weight limit of the ball
- Clear the location where you’re doing the exercise. Be sure that no falling objects or any kinds of stuff that can trip you
Another important thing is to be sure that you are hydrated. Do not neglect water since there are already two of you that need to be hydrated.
Using the exercise ball in labor and in post-partum
Many thought that exercise ball is good only during pregnancy. But did you know that you can use it even during labor and post-partum stage? Yes, even other specialists suggest the use of the ball to get pregnant!
During labor, you can lean on it and will allow your hips to sway. It can help the position of the child to go out fast. That shows how versatile the exercise ball is.
Lean on the birth ball especially when fatigue is about to kick in. All the weight will be absorbed by the ball and will relieve your back pain.
Now, this is the fun part of the ball comes. When you are done giving birth, your main concern is how to get back in shape. That’s no problem at all. Grab your exercise ball to tone those extra fats. Just be sure (time and time again, remind yourself) to consult your doctor for safety purposes. Talking about post-partum, you should take extra care to determine whether your body is ready and fit in to exercise ready and fit in to exercise. It will take some time for you to do it.
This is normal, so don’t worry.
For moms who came from C-section, better not to use the exercise ball or do some exercise until you are cleared through the post-operation. Remember, you are more delicate compare to those who delivered normally. C-sections are not just dealing with labor and birthing pains, but an additional deep pain.
Also, remember that bleeding should stop first. Exercise improves your blood flow. This might trigger more bleeding.
One last thing: exercise ball is created for you to enjoy the beauty of pregnancy. It takes away the pain and hardship that you will be getting into. It takes away the stress and it relieves your anxiety. But these are just secondary to the feeling of euphoria. That is when you finally see those two little bright eyes when you heard that little cry, and when you held him or her into your arms, no pain is greater than the joy in your heart!