Our guest blogger this week is Charity Wheeler. Charity owns Pure Love Doula and serves Utah and Salt Lake Counties, as well as surrounding areas. She joined the UDA in 2016 and is currently serving on the Board as the Utah County Representative. She loves supporting families and helping parents feel confident and empowered during their birth experience.
Using Exercise & Peanut Balls in Pregnancy and Birth
When I was pregnant with my first child I bought a birth ball mostly because I had heard they were good, but I had no idea why. I would sit and bounce on it while watching “Gilmore Girls”, and towards the end of my pregnancy, I bought one to sit on at work as well. You’d think the fact that I owned two of them I would have known more about them, but I didn’t. And because I was so unfamiliar with how to use birth balls I didn’t utilize them during my daughter’s birth.
Since becoming a doula, I make an effort with my clients to make sure you feel comfortable using both a birth and peanut ball. I bring them into your home and practice different positions with you so that when you are in labor you’ll feel comfortable and confident using these amazing tools.
During pregnancy and birth your body releases an amazing hormone called relaxin. Relaxin makes it so the ligaments in your pelvis can relax and open for the birth of your baby. But, if you aren’t getting into positions that keep you in alignment and allow your pelvis to open, relaxin can be counterproductive.
The optimal positions for you to be in during labor (positions most women will naturally get into) are positions that help open the pelvis, allow movement, and use gravity to move baby down. One of the things I love most about the use of birth and peanut balls is that they allow you to be in more restful positions while helping you maintain optimal alignment and positioning for birth.
Birth ball positions to practice during pregnancy and use during birth:
Sitting on a birth ball doing hip circles, bouncing, swaying back and forth. In this position you can lay over a bed/couch arm, or a support person. Or you can have a support person behind you and lean back on them.
Kneeling on the floor leaning over a birth ball. Many women like being on all fours. It’s great for alignment and this is an adaptation of that.
When it comes to a peanut ball, most people have never seen one before entering a hospital, so are hesitant to use one because it’s so foreign. If you want to be in a side lying or sitting position the peanut ball is a must. Remember how relaxin helps relax the ligaments of the pelvis? Using a peanut ball when sitting or laying will help keep your pelvis open. If you choose to get an epidural make sure you ask for a peanut ball. Your support team can help position the peanut ball under one knee to help keep your pelvis open.
These are my favorite ways to use a peanut ball during labor:
Side lying with the peanut ball between your knees.
Sitting or slightly reclined with the peanut ball under one knee.
I know the peanut ball looks really awkward but whenever I have a client practice these positions they always say they want to purchase one–and some do!
If you’d like to purchase a birth ball you can often find them at TJMaxx, Ross, or any sporting good store. I am strictly an online shopper since I have two young children so I ordered both my peanut and birth ball on Amazon.
Here is the birth ball I purchased (check the size and buy one that will get you into a semi-squatting position): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ILI7SVW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Here is the peanut ball I purchased: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U0FSZHK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
And a special thank you to the amazing Lucy and Seth that were my models for the pictures! She gave birth to her beautiful baby boy the next day and used both the birth and peanut ball during her labor.
– Charity Wheeler, Pure Love Doula
To learn more about Charity and stay up to date on all she has to offer, visit her website or drop in on one of her monthly pregnancy and childbirth classes in Orem!