Using the Birthing Ball

Using the Birthing Ball

Before you use the birthing ball, we advise that you consult with your Midwife or Physiotherapist to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit from its use. The aim of this information sheet is to help you get the most out of using the birthing ball and to highlight how to use them safely in pregnancy and labour.

Your safety first
• We recommend that you only use the balls supplied in the Maternity Unit.
• We only recommend the use of birthing balls, which are recognised as being compliant with the European Medical Device Quality Directive and bear the quality mark.
• If you wish to use your own equipment in the hospital we advise you that you do so at your own risk.
• We advise that a support person or a Midwife should be with you at all times when using the birthing ball.
• We advise that you wear non slip footwear while on the ball, this will assist with achieving traction when balancing on the ball.
• The birthing ball is recommended for use by one person only at a given time.
• The use of the birthing balls is not recommended following an epidural.


In pregnancy
• Gentle exercise on the ball may help strengthen your abdominal and lower back muscles.
• The ball can aid with massage and general relaxation.
• The ball can be used for practising positions for birth.

In labour
• The birthing ball allows a natural back and forth swaying movement and pelvic mobility.
• Provides support to women to change their position in labour.
• Using the birthing ball encourages optimal fetal position in labour by allowing the woman to remain in an upright position.
• Moving on to or off the birthing ball is easier than a chair or a bed for most women.


Here are some suggested positions you may be able to adopt in labour while using the ball. The most important thing about adopting these positions is that it feels right for you. We would encourage trying out different positions and seeing what feels best for you.

The balls can also be used with floor mats and bean bags these are available on the labour ward.

• Sitting on the ball can help take pressure off your lower back. As the baby descends the birth canal, the pressure on your lower back may be very intense.
• While sitting on the ball your hands are free to hold on to the bed or your partner, while the ball takes your weight and allows you to keep moving.

To sit safely on the ball
• Steady the ball with your hands as you sit down.
• Put your feet firmly on the ground about shoulder breathe apart with your hips about 10 cm above your knees.

This position encourages physical and mental relaxation. It may help to make the contractions less painful as the pelvis does not stiffen and helps to take the pressure off the lower back.

To kneel using the ball
• Kneel seated on your heels, with your legs slightly apart arms and hands resting on the ball with your head turned to one side.
• Raise yourself up on your knees and try rocking side to side, or front to back.
• Place a pillow under your knees for extra comfort.

This position allows you to use gravity and gentle movement to help open your pelvis this may assist the baby’s rotation during its decent.
To achieve a squatting position

• Your husband/partner sits on the ball, with their legs apart and their feet firmly on the floor.
• You sit between their legs in a squatting position leaning back on to husband/partner.
• Your husband/partner offers you further support by holding your arms.

Contact Labour Ward (091) 544225 • Parent Craft (091) 544210 • Physiotherapy (091) 544525 University Hospital Galway Maternity Care Booklet

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