Before you go in to deliver your baby, you may find yourself researching all the extra items that you might need to make your experience more enjoyable. One of those experiences is how to help your labor go a little smoother, and if you’re lucky, quicker! While this process is unique to every woman, one laboring tool that has become increasingly popular is the peanut ball. It is said to reduce laboring time, but does it work?
What is a peanut ball?
The peanut ball is very derivative of its name – It is an oblong, peanut-shell-shaped ball. The center of the ball dips inward so you can wrap your legs around it during labor. Having a birthing ball is not a new concept. Many women have used round exercise balls to bounce on or hunch over during labor to try and find some relief. However, for some women, they may find themselves unable to get out of their bed. Maybe they had an epidural or they are too exhausted to get up. The peanut ball can be used by these women in the comfort of their laboring bed.
Some claims of the peanut ball are it may help progress your labor during the first and second stage. The first stage of labor includes the thinning and dilation of the cervix. In the second stage of labor, your baby begins to move through the birth canal. Many women use the peanut ball to help open their pelvic outlet to make it easier for their baby to come down the birth canal.
How do I use the peanut ball?
The peanut ball can be used in a variety of positions. The most important method is one that feels comfortable to you. Try out different positions to see what feels best. Do try to reposition every 20-60 minutes to help with circulation. Some common positions include:
- Lay in a semi-reclined position, with one leg over the ball and the other leg to the side of the ball. Push the ball up as close to your hips as comfortable. The ball in this position can help promote dilation and descension of the baby.
- Lay down on your side with your head slightly propped up with pillows. Place your upper leg on top of the ball and your lower leg under the ball. This can help open the pelvic outlet.
Where can I get one?
The best news is Ochsner offers the peanut ball at many of our birthing locations for free! If you are interested in using one, talk with your OB/GYN about its availability.
If you would like to purchase your own peanut ball, they are available on many different online sites. Just be sure that you are purchasing one that is the right fit for your body. If your purchase one that is too big, it can become uncomfortable and put stress on your hip joint. The most used sizes are the 40 cm and 50 cm balls. If you are on the petite side, 5 feet, 3 inches or under, the 40 cm ball might be the best fit for you. Women between 5 feet, 3 inches tall and 5 feet, 6 inches tall are recommended to use the 50 cm ball. The largest size, 60 cm, is likely the best choice for women who are 5 feet, 6 inches or taller.
At the end of the day, you should do whatever feels most comfortable to you. If that includes a ball or no ball. The priority is making sure you have an enjoyable experience and that you and your baby are healthy!