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Birthing Ball | Glossary of Pregnancy & Baby Term

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  • Bambino Mio
  • 09 / 08 / 2023



What is a birthing ball?

A birthing ball is a slightly larger version of the exercise ball you might use at the gym or in an exercise class. Many women find birthing balls help them to stay active during pregnancy and labour (1).


Should I use a birthing ball?

You don’t have to use a birthing ball during pregnancy or labour, but many women say that theirs helped them to reduce back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Others say a birthing ball helped them to cope with labour and reduced stress and pain.


A birthing ball can also encourage you to get into an upright position which can help your baby’s head to engage (2), or move into your pelvis.


What size of birthing ball is best for me?

It’s important to have the right size of birthing ball so that you don’t strain your back, hips or legs when exercising with it.


As a rule, your knees should be around 10cm (4in) lower than your hips when you sit on your birthing ball.


If you’re up to 173cm (5ft 8in) in height you’ll probably need a ball that’s 65cm in diameter.


If you’re taller than 173cm (5ft 8in) then you’ll probably need a 75cm ball.


Can you burst a birthing ball?

Almost certainly not. A good quality birthing ball will have been pressure tested to make sure it can support a weight of up to 300kg (47.2 stones). It should also be made from anti burst material so if it does puncture it deflates slowly rather than bursting or popping.


How do you use a birthing ball?

You should only use a birthing ball in labour if you’ve used one during pregnancy and you’re comfortable with the different exercises and postures you can use it for.


Here are the most common ways to use a birthing ball during pregnancy and labour.



When sitting on your birthing ball, you should place your feet a shoulder width apart on the ground. Ideally you should wear non-slip shoes or socks, or be barefoot to avoid sliding or slipping.


You then move in a circular motion, from side to side or in a figure of eight. Sitting on the birthing ball like this is a good way for your birth partner to massage your lower back during contractions (3).


You should adopt a kneeling position to lean on your birthing ball. This posture can help you to cope with contractions and also make it easy for your birth partner to massage your back.


In a similar way to leaning on the ball, with hugging you kneel down but lift up your bottom. This makes it easy for you to rock from side to side when you have a contraction.

Leaning while standing

Place your birthing ball on a higher surface, such as a sofa, and lean on the ball while standing. This can help you to deliver your baby and also make it easier for your birth partner to massage your back.

Citations and References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. ‘Benefits of Using a Yoga Ball During Pregnancy and Labor.’ 2023. Web. health.clevelandclinic.org/birthing-ball
  2. National Health Service (NHS). Ante Natal Advice for Optimal Fetal Positioning.’ 2014. Web. nhsforthvalley.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Ante-Natal-Advice-for-Optimal-Fetal-Positioning.pdf
  3. National Health Service (NHS). ‘Labour. Contractions.’ 2023. Web. www.nhsinform.scot/ready-steady-baby/labour-and-birth/labour/contractions