The 4 Best Birthing Balls — Plus, A Doctor’s Tips For Using Them
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Birthing balls can go by many names — including yoga balls and exercise balls — and they’re used in a variety of ways. But there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a birthing ball. The best birthing balls can inflate to a size that’s appropriate for your height, are made from thick materials with a nonslip outer surface, and feature an anti-burst design, which means that they’ll slowly release air if they’re punctured rather than pop quickly. (The last thing you want to experience is a total blowout that causes you to fall.)
When shopping for a birthing ball, one main consideration is the size. In a phone interview with Romper, Alice Sutton, a board-certified M.D. and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC San Diego Health, offered some safety tips for using round birthing balls. In order to help figure out the best height for you, she recommends “a position where you can plant both feet on the ground” any time you’re seated on an inflated ball. Avoid being on your tippy toes and ensure your knees don’t extend higher than your belly. You might also “adjust the height of the ball” a few times to find the right fit, notes Dr. Sutton. Manufacturers typically include sizing guides with measurements to help you determine which one is right for your height. Some may even include a measuring tape with your purchase, so you can get a more precise and consistent measurement when inflating your ball.
Keep in mind your center of gravity may be thrown-off during your pregnancy — with that in mind, it might help to look for options with stability rings or textured grips to prevent injuries. Dr. Sutton also adds that it’s best to use it “when someone else is around” as an extra precaution.
While most balls are round, you can also opt for a peanut ball to use later in the labor process. A larger round ball is typically used at the beginning of labor to get some relief with movement, but a peanut ball can come in handy later to help open up your pelvis in preparation for delivery. It’s often used for patients that are “tired and want to rest in the bed” or have “chosen to get an epidural,” according to Dr. Sutton. Not sure if a round or peanut ball is the best fit for you? “Lots of patients will end up using both,” says Dr. Sutton.
All of the choices below are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a type of vinyl with added plasticizers. It’s a go-to material for exercise balls because it’s lightweight and flexible, but it could also include phthalates, which pose potential risks for early pregnancy. While most birthing balls can be used for other purposes like exercise, Dr. Sutton recommends limiting your exposure until you’ve reached full-term (around 39 weeks) or are about to enter labor. When it comes to using a PVC birthing ball, Dr. Sutton notes: “A brief exposure at term, I wouldn’t be as concerned about.”
Check out the list below to see all the best birthing balls Amazon has to offer.
1. This Fan-Favorite Yoga Ball With 19,000+ Reviews
With over 19,000 reviews and a 4.6-star overall rating, this yoga ball is a solid choice to use during labor, according to reviewers. One customer wrote, “This product was amazing for laboring at home. I bounced on it for multiple hours to help through the pain of contractions.” Another reviewer added: “Got it for my pregnancy and I feel totally secure on it.” It’s made from thick, nonslip PVC and features textured ridges on the surface for even more traction. It can also support up to 2,200 pounds and is designed to deflate slowly if punctured. It comes with some handy accessories, too: a manual foot pump and two air stoppers. Plus, you can choose from five different sizes (there’s a sizing guide recommended by the manufacturer) so you can find a great fit. Choose from five colors.
- Available sizes: 5 (ranging from 38 to 85 centimeters)
One reviewer wrote: “I am a few weeks away from my due date and this ball has literally been a lifesaver! It’s so great for stretching my back out and relieving pain. I also use this to bounce on to help baby lower into position, and I plan on using this to help through labor pains as well. I would recommend this to any pregnant woman!”
2. A Birthing Ball With A Stability Ring
This birthing ball with a stability ring helps keep everything steady to prevent your ball from rolling away. It’s made with a thick, anti-slip PVC material that gives you extra support when bouncing or moving around to ease labor pains. One reviewer wrote, “I really like the stability ring that comes with it especially since my balance is off during pregnancy.” Another shopper described: “I was able to do a lot of exercises on it to prepare for my delivery and relieve pain.”
This pick comes with a manual foot pump and plug tools to easily inflate or deflate the ball. Plus, it can support up to 2,000 pounds and has an anti-burst design. For sizing, the manufacturer lists a guide that helps you determine which size ball is right for your height out of three options. There’s also a measuring tape included with your purchase, so you can inflate the ball at the exact measurement you need it to be. The birthing ball is available in three colors, too.
- Available sizes: 3 (ranging from 55 to 75 centimeters)
One reviewer wrote: “I bought this to use through the end of my pregnancy and it is wonderful. I am over 200 pounds and have had no issues with deflation or stability. Does a wonderful job holding up to hours of use.”
3. This Textured Birthing Ball With Massage Points
This birthing ball with textured massage points can not only ease your contracting muscles during labor but can also offer extra stability when in use. One reviewer wrote: “The textured points on the one half of the ball not only make me feel stable on my wood floors but they feel great massaging my lower back and thighs.” The ball is made of PVC, according to an email to Bustle from Comfy Mom. Plus, it is slip resistant, can withstand up to 675 pounds, and features an anti-burst deflation system in case of any punctures. One happy reviewer noted, “It is made of a thick rubber which feels sturdy to sit on so I didn’t have to worry about any ball mishaps.” This option also includes a manual air pump, along with two leak-resistant plugs and tools to deflate it. However, it only comes in one color — this bright, joyful pink.
- Available sizes: 1 (65 centimeters)
One reviewer wrote: “I was, so, in need of relief and comfort during my late weeks of pregnancy and this did exactly that!! 5-stars, it was such a blessing for me!!”
4. This Peanut Birthing Ball That Helps Reduce Labor Time
When you need to speed up the labor process and help reposition your baby for a vaginal birth, this peanut-shaped birthing ball is one to reach for. A peanut ball is best used while lying down and straddled between your legs to help open up your pelvis, giving your baby more room to move into a heads-down position. This peanut ball is made from a PVC material that one reviewer describes as “really thick and sturdy.” The ball has a max weight capacity of 500 pounds, and is both anti-slip and anti-burst. Plus, it has textured rings on the surface. It comes with a foot pump, stopper, and a portable bag to store it in. Choose from five different colors.
- Available sizes: 2 (ranging from 45 to 100 centimeters)
One reviewer wrote: “This was bigger than I imagined but was the best thing ever for labor […] They used the ball to help put me in different positions to help move the baby down. Plus it helps when you’re laying in the super awful uncomfortable beds, this ball help[s] you get in different positions you wouldn’t be able to get into.”
Alice Sutton, M.D., FACOG, Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at UC San Diego Health