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Being well-prepared for your birth includes bringing along the right tools. Let’s discuss the 5 natural birth accessories that you’ll want to be sure to have at the ready for every delivery.
Natural Birth Accessories #1: Birth Ball
What is a Birth Ball?
Birth balls are large, inflatable balls, more commonly known as “exercise balls.” In labor, you sit on or lean into the birth ball to help support you in positions that would otherwise be uncomfortable or difficult to hold for long periods of time.
For example, a squat can be hard to pull off during a contraction. Fortunately, sitting on a birth ball offers the same benefits of a squat — namely a wide pelvis — without any of the effort. Birth balls are also a helpful tool to support your upper body during hands-and-knees positions. Additionally, they enable you to rock, sway, and stay mobile during periods of fetal monitoring.
Some moms use the birth ball in lieu of a chair in the weeks leading up to delivery. Not only can it be more comfortable than a hard chair on an achy back, but sitting on the ball can help to passively strengthen your core muscles.
Birth Ball Sizing
Many hospitals have birth balls on hand, however I still recommend that you buy one and bring it along, just in case. You’ll also need to have one to use as you practice labor positions during your natural childbirth class. If you don’t own one already, be sure to purchase the correct size ball for you. When you sit on the ball, your hips should be higher than your knees. A good rule of thumb is:
- If you’re up to 5’4 in height, use a 55 cm ball
- If you’re up to 5’8 in height, use a 65 cm ball
- If you’re 5’9 or taller, use a 75 cm ball
If you’re in between heights, it’s better for the birth ball to be a bit on the big side, so purchase up in size. If you need to, you can always under-inflate the ball to make it smaller.
Birth Ball Cost
You can purchase an inexpensive birth ball for between $10.99 – $12.99, depending on the size. Prices can go up to $25 or $30, but there’s really no reason to spend more than that.
Natural Birth Accessories #2: Peanut Ball
What is a Peanut Ball?
Peanut balls are another helpful natural birth accessory to have handy. They offer a similar concept to the birth ball, only they’re meant to support mom’s legs while in sitting or side-lying positions.
They’re a go-to tool if you need to spend some time laboring in bed, or if you choose an epidural and have less mobility. The peanut ball can keep help open your hips and encourage baby into the most optimal position for birth, even if you aren’t up and moving.
How to Use a Peanut Ball
For example, you can lay on your side and put the peanut ball between your legs. You can also do a modified lunge in bed with a peanut ball. In a semi-sitting position, put the peanut ball under one leg. Gently curve the other leg around the ball to complete the lunge.
Want to learn more? Check out this video from a peanut ball trainer (yes, that’s a thing!). It’s intended for birth professionals but would be helpful for any mom who wants to be well-informed.
Like with birth balls, hospitals typically have peanut balls available to use during labor. Call your hospital to verify that they have them in the labor & delivery unit. If so, you may not need to purchase one at all. If you’re planning a home birth or simply want one to practice positioning before labor, here are some sizing suggestions:
- If you’re under 5’3, use a 40 cm ball
- If you’re over 5’3, use a 50 cm ball
Peanut Ball Cost
Natural Birth Accessories #3: Massage Tools
Touch and massage are powerful coping techniques to use during natural childbirth. However, all that deep massage can wear out your partner’s hands in no time. Save the hands and use massage tools instead! You can purchase massage tools, such as rolling massagers or fancy, battery-operated massage tools. Or, you can stick to simple, inexpensive ones, such as:
- Tennis ball (use the firm all-court balls, not the soft starter balls)
- Tennis balls knotted into a sock
- Lacrosse ball
- Rolling pin
Natural Birth Accessories #4: Hot/Cold Tools
The use of hot and cold can help ease the discomfort of contractions during natural childbirth. An easy way to apply heat is through rice socks, which you can make yourself for around $5. Simply heat the rice sock in the microwave for 2 minutes, and it will provide about 20 minutes of moist heat. A hot water bottle is another useful option.
Read more: DIY Easy Heated Rice Sock
Cool pressure can be applied by purchasing one of a variety of soft, flexible ice packs. (Look for one that is large enough to cover mom’s lower back.) Or, you can freeze water bottles and your partner can use them to apply cool, rolling pressure to your lower back. Latex hospital gloves filled with ice are another option that are commonly used in the hospital in a pinch, especially on the perineum after birth.
(Note: When using heat and cold, use caution and avoid applying the tools directly to your skin.)
Natural Birth Accessories #5: Music
Another must-have natural birth accessory is music. And don’t forget a device to play your music on, too. While you may enjoy headphones during early labor, many women prefer to put the music on an external speaker as labor gets more intense.
There’s no one “right” type of music to listen to during labor, although gentle, calming music may increase your relaxation. In your Kopa Birth® class, you’ll receive access to download mp3 files of Meditations & Imagery for Labor. These audio downloads will take you on a mental journey of relaxation through 6, soothing, birth-focused meditations. Use these guided imagery tracks to practice deep relaxation during pregnancy. They’ll also be a valuable tool to help you stay calm and relaxed during labor contractions.
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth